Mentor Lumber and Supply is celebrating its 100th year in business, a figure that is not lost on the people who work there.
“(Celebrating 100 years) means so much to our team members, leadership and ownership,” said Tom Kirk, president of Timber and Sourcing Mentor. “It means our team members and those who have retired from here are proud to be part of something special that has stood the test of time – the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam , several recessions and many more have all come and gone, but the large Mentor Lumber sign at the Highway 615 bridge still stands.
Mentor Lumber was founded in 1922 to sell lumber, coal, animal feed and building materials. In 1963, the current property acquired Mentor Lumber and established a full-service lumber yard.
Kirk said being a recognizable staple of the Mentor business community for such a long time is a source of pride for the company.
“As part of the preparation for our celebration this year, we had to extract old files dating back to 1922 to tell the story of our great company. It was amazing to read the minutes of the board meetings of administration over this century to see what their struggles were between how they operated then and how we operate now,” Kirk said. “The town of Mentor is now home to some very large businesses, but the local businesses that operate today are the true backbone of this city.”
Chardon Lumber was acquired in 1965, adding a full-service lumber yard in Geauga County. Both Mentor Shipyard and Chardon Shipyard provide materials and services to builders, remodeling contractors, and homeowners in northeast Ohio.
Mentor Door & Millwork was established in 1988. This division offers interior doors, prefabricated stairs, mantels and custom woodwork.
Mentor Installed Services was established in 1992. This division offers refurbishment and installation of all company products. Mentor’s showroom and design center was opened in 1998 with windows, doors and kitchens.
“Mentor Lumber and Supply offers more than our name implies,” Kirk said. “Most people don’t know that we sell and design custom kitchens as well as high-end windows, doors and joinery. Our Mentor Door and Millwork shop can produce everything from mailbox posts to custom mantels and cupolas – you name it, we can probably build it in our shop. We often refer to our Mentor Door and Millwork shop as “Northeast Ohio’s Best Kept Secret”.
The Chardon division moved to new facilities in 2000, adding a window, door and kitchen showroom to its full-service lumber yard.
“(The expansion into Geauga County) speaks volumes about our customer base,” Kirk said. “We have a loyal group of customers and builders who have been with us (in some cases) for over 50 years. They see the value of doing business with us because of our success and the quality of our product. I don’t think there’s loyalty without trust and relationships. We truly care about the success of our clients. If our builder clients don’t succeed, we go bankrupt.
“Not only do we have loyal customers, but our team members are extremely loyal – with an average of 15 years of longevity. Our longest serving team member is also one of the founders of our second ownership group , Robert Sanderson, who will celebrate his 60th birthday with us in 2023.”
Kirk also singled out a few people who deserve credit for helping the company reach the milestone, including original TP founders Kirby and John Hillenbrand and Jerome T. Osborne’s second ownership group, Sanderson and Harry Fishleigh.