Hammond Lumber Company is celebrating its 65th birthday after enjoying the most successful year in its history. The Maine family business that began in 1953 as a tiny sawmill in Belgrade is now one of the largest independent building suppliers in New England, and it’s still growing.
In 2017, Hammond Lumber achieved its largest sales volume ever and now employs more people than ever.
According to personnel director Rod Wiles, there are currently 475 people working at the company. They include 140 who have worked with Hammond for more than ten years, 61 for more than twenty years, and 23 for more than thirty years.
“All that experience is the key,” said Wiles. “It adds up to an enormous knowledge of how the industry works, how the company works, and how best to serve the needs of our customers.”
Bangor thriving, too
There are 13 Hammond retail stores throughout the state, including the one on Hammond Street in Bangor, which the company opened in 2002 after buying the facility from Wickes Lumber. As have the other Hammond stores, Bangor has continued to thrive. Its staff of 39 workers includes 17 who have been there for five years or more, 8 who have been there for ten, and 4 who have been there since the store opened.
Skip Hammond started the business with $50 he borrowed from his wife, Verna, who also worked in the company until several years ago. Now in their 90’s and still living a mile up the road in the house they built around the same time they acquired the sawmill, they still visit the store regularly. In fact, they’re often spotted driving around the yard and sawmills to see how things are going.
Skip and Verna’s son, Don, who started the retail side of the operation in 1967, handed off the roles of president and CEO to his own son Mike a year ago, though now as vice president he remains just as active as he’s ever been. Mike and his sister, Sarah Hammond Krizo, helped out at the Belgrade store while growing up, and Mike later served as vice president until last year. Sarah also works full-time for the company and oversees Hammond’s marketing effort.
“They’ve all worked in the yard, stocked shelves, crunched numbers and waited on customers,” Hardy says. “They understand what it takes to do each job, and they give the rest of us the opportunity to grow along with them. The harder you work, the more you’re recognized.”
Opportunities to grow
Hardy himself started out working in the pine bin in Belgrade in 1997. His other jobs included picking orders to be transferred to other Hammond stores, working in the door & window shop, cutting logs for the company’s Maine Pine Log Home packages, and also training in sales. He worked in Skowhegan and served as assistant manager of the Fairfield store before taking the reins in Bangor.
Wiles’ path to his job as personnel director also started out in the yard at Belgrade. That was 31 years ago. He then advanced into sales and also became a product buyer. In 1997, he assumed responsibility for advertising and marketing, then trained in personnel and ultimately became head of the department last year after the retirement of Bob Thing, who had started in the yard as a teenager.
Hardy credits the training offered by Hammond Lumber for not only empowering employees to advance their careers, but also for continuing to expand the scope and quality of customer service.
“The amount of time, effort and money the Hammonds devote to training is amazing,” he says. “They never stop.”
The Bangor store is located on Hammond Street and can be reached by phone toll free at 1-866-439-2264 or 945-9416. Directions for driving to the store are available by phone and email, as well as by visiting hammondlumber.com. Customers may also call 1-866 HAMMOND toll free, and they will be connected with the store nearest where they are calling from.
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