A Brief History of Ward Lumber... a remarkable business story worth sharing!
In 1890, Harvey M. Ward entered the forest products industry in the AuSable Valley of the Adirondack Mountains. He worked with portable and water powered mills to custom saw logs brought by farmers and landowners in the region. These logs were processed into the lumber farmers needed for building. His sons, Amos, Ralph, Harry, Sidney Sr and Harvey, later ran the business as "Ward Brothers".
Sidney J. Ward, Sr., who became owner of the business in 1944, started buying logs and established a retail operation selling lumber to the surrounding area. Through the years, Sid also had the foresight to purchase over 5,000 acres of timberland, which is still owned by the Ward Pine Mill and managed by the company today to ensure the preservation of and production from this renewable resource.
After Sid Sr.’s passing, his son Sid Jr., a third generation owner, continued to grow the business. When Sid Jr.’s sons were ready to join the family business, they became the 4th generation of owners of Ward Lumber. Sidney III “Jay” was President, and Jeffrey was Senior Vice President of Manufacturing. Sidney Jr.’s wife, Janet Ward, was also an integral part of this family business until she and Sidney Sr. turned the day-to-day operations of the business over to their sons in 1997.
Agnes Ward, wife of Sidney J. Ward Sr., passed away in 2015. Agnes had a length of service at Ward Lumber that spanned over 70 years before she retired. She was primarily behind the scenes but her impact can still be seen today. Agnes’s fortitude and longevity in the family business was due to her dedication to family, admirable work ethic, and desire to continue what her husband had begun over a half century earlier.
As Ward Lumber grew over the years, it became necessary to delineate different segments of the business and in 2017 the two major elements of Ward Lumber the Building Materials Division and the Lumber Manufacturing Division split into Ward Lumber and the Ward Pine Mill. Ward Lumber consists of two building supply stores in Jay and Malone. The Ward Pine Mill maintains a special relationship with Ward Lumber, and is composed of timberlands, forestry management, sawmill, dry kilns, maintenance facility & a planing mill. Their sawmill is one of the largest White Pine sawmills in New York state.
Jay Ward, the 4th generation owner and President, said: “Ward Lumber was founded on values of hard work, service and quality. We owe much of our success to the generations of hard-working, dedicated men and women who have worked at Ward Lumber, and to the support and patronage of the people who live in the communities we serve.” Ward Lumber celebrated the 125th anniversary in 2015.
THE WARD LUMBER WORKER COOPERATIVE
In 2021 the employees of Ward Lumber formed the Ward Lumber Workers Cooperative and purchased Ward Lumber Company from Jay Ward. The majority of Ward Lumber Employees are now also owners and each share equally in the business. You can click here to learn about our Coop.
The current Board of directors is made up of 7 seasoned and dedicated employees. With their relationships & technical assistance from providers and external advisors they are continuing to guide our company culture and oversee the Governance of the company.
Jay remained as CEO to help with the transition and business continuity but announced his retirement in late 2022 & is preparing to retire at the end of 2023. Over the past three years Ward Lumber has experienced a 40% increase in sales growth and an even more impressive increase in net profitability which has provided a strong financial position for the employee owners. Ward Lumber’s strength continues to be its strong management team, experienced employees, and our commitment to the communities that we serve.
Into the future we will be continuing with our planned management transition. A new CEO will be onboarded and it is our goal to continue to grow Ward Lumber Worker Cooperative to provide viable employment opportunities for many generations to come. We intend to communicate openly and honestly with customers, employees, vendors, and community members. We intend to foster an enjoyable work environment, working towards a common goal. We intend to continue our legacy of prioritizing customer satisfaction, while continuing to have financial growth through open communication and fiscal responsibility to increase the financial security and stability of WLWC members .
Our Company Mission Statement:
We invest in our employees, families, and our communities in order to provide meaningful and rewarding livelihoods by being the local resource for quality building products and excellent, knowledgeable customer service in a family-friendly atmosphere, to help create and maintain shelter in our local communities.
Corporate Mission Statement:
To be the best lumber manufacturing and building supply company in the Northeast by providing quality products, professional services and value to our customers.
Safety - Safety is our first, last and ever-present priority to ensure the health of our employee team, customers and our company through safe work habits, safe work environment and ongoing training.
Communication - We strive to communicate openly and honestly and respectfully with customers, employees, vendors and community members. Leverage multiple methods of contact to best relay information in a timely response. We promote involvement and respect by creating a two-way communication flow and listening to understand rather than respond.
Teamwork - Professionally representing ourselves to employees & business associates in an honest, respectful, fair &collaborative manner. To foster an enjoyable work environment, working towards a common goal, and backing each other up in the execution of our mission.
Service Interact with our customers with responsive, informed, ethical service, meeting or exceeding their needs with good natured efficiency. To promote and provide service to each other and our community through volunteering and supporting our friends & neighbors.
Financial Growth - Foster financial growth through open communication and fiscal responsibility to increase the financial security and stability of our Team Members and create long term fulfillment of our mission.
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