BY ANDREA PALMER
Curtis Lumber, a well known lumber yard for
contractors and do-it-yourselfers, is celebrating
125 years in business.
Founded in 1827 by Captain Isaac Henry Curtis
as a sawmill, the family-owned independent
company has bloomed into a 21-store operation
employing around 570 people full-time.
“The two biggest things driving our success in
the region are people and customer service, said
Doug Ford, general manager of the Ballston Spa
location. “Curtis Lumber has a habit of hiring
good people and keeping them. My average staff
member has been here over 15 years. Many have
been here over 30 years. Curtis Lumber has a
philosophy of listening to our customers. We pay
attention to what works and don’t try change
the game all the time. We are consistent.”
Ford has been with Curtis Lumber for 19
years. Prior to Curtis, he worked for 17 years
with Grossman Lumber. “Prior to that, I went
to school to be a high school math teacher and
ended up in the lumber business by default,”
Jay Curtis, CEO of the company, is the fifth
generation in the Curtis Lumber lineage. His
son and daughter both work for the company
and represent the sixth generation. Curtis
became president of the company in 1992, assuming
ownership of nine stores from his father
and expanding to additional stores shortly after.
Ford said that, while there has been an increased
demand for green and energy-efficient
building products in recent years, consistency
in customer service is what has driven the company’s
success. He said part of good customer
service is equipping employees with knowledge
“Customers are always looking for good service
and that’s something that we give them. We
deal with middle and higher end products. We
don’t try to play down our price with imports
and low price-point items like our competition.
We carry quality products, brand names. We
invest in customer service. We spend a lot of
money training our employees so they can do
more than just find something on a shelf for a customer,” said Ford.
Curtis Lumber saw $170-million in total sales
last year. Its project center includes flooring,
kitchen equipment, lighting, baths, doors,
paints and stains, windows, decking, siding,
roofing and stairs.
Curtis Lumber is involved with many area
organizations, including Rotary, local chambers
of commerce, business associations and
homebuilders organizations. The Ballston Spa
location hosts a farmer’s market every Friday,
as well as Lion’s Club events, a yearly car show
and a Pet-A-Palooza pet adoption event. Jay
Curtis is an avid animal advocate.
All stores are involved with their respective
“One of the big reasons we’ve been so successful
is that we are willing to get involved in
the communities our stores are in. We are encouraged
from the top down to be involved, not
just come to work, do our job and go home–we
want more than that,” Ford said.
Said Ford, “As far as future plans go, Curtis
is always looking to grow. It has to be the right
opportunity and the right market. We are a
community-driven company, so we look to be
in communities where we are welcome and we
provide a value to the community.”
The Curtis Lumber timeline for its history in
the area includes:
1823 – Captain Isaac Henry Curtiss builds
first sawmill on Charlton Road.
1890 – Business purchased by Elmer A.
Curtis. Drops second ‘s’ of name as waste of
time. Inception of modern day Curtis Lumber
1910 – Fire destroys Curtis sawmill, but is
1938 – Kent Curtis assumes ownership from
1949 – Robert K. Curtis assumes ownership
from father Kent and establishes Curtis Lumber
1952 – New office constructed with nine
1955 – Store rebuilt in Charlton. Expands into
hardware with 11 employees.
1966 – Schuylerville store opens.
1967 – Warrensburg store opens.
1969 – Curtis Lumber clears way for construction
of Ballston Spa location.
1971 – Schodack store opens.
1972 – New sawmill opens.
1974 – Delmar store opens.
1976 – Curtis Lumber moves Charlton Road
store to current location at Route 67, Ballston
1981 – Hoosick Falls store opens.
1982 – Mill fire closes sawmill operation.
1986 – Amsterdam and Glens Falls stores
1989 – Schroon Lake store opens.
1990 – Curtis Lumber celebrates 100th anniversary
and expansion to current 130,000
square foot store.
1992 – Jay S. Curtis becomes president, assumes
ownership of nine locations from father.
Hoosick store opens.
1994 – Perth store opens.
1996 – Fort Plain and Granville stores open.
1997 – Queensbury store opens.
2004 – Curtis Lumber is “Pro Sales Magazine”
Dealer of The Year.
2005 – Curtis Lumber purchases 7 Webb &
Sons locations in Central New York.
2006 – Curtis Lumber purchases 4 Gregory
Supply stores in Northern New York and Vermont.
2007 – Curtis Lumber, with 22 locations
throughout New York and Northern Vermont,
reaches over 600 employees and more than $150
million in sales New York and Northern Vermont’s
largest independent building supplier.
2008 – Curtis Lumber is Home Channel News’
Pro Dealer of The Year.
Its website is www.curtislumber.com.