Many people appreciate traditions. They give the feel of stability, longevity, and being part of something bigger than yourself. While America is young compared to many nations, the soil of her history has been made rich by the sacrifices and toil of many. When Katharine Lee Bates penned the lyrics to the patriotic hymn America the Beautiful, she wrote of a “patriot dream/ That sees beyond the years.”
Part of that dream was encased in the free enterprise system that allowed the McIlvain family to start a lumber business all the way back in 1740. In many ways, McIlvain Lumber helped build America before she was officially made up of the United States. While no McIlvains are listed as official Founding Fathers, many helped in foundational buildings with strong ties to our great nation’s early success.
When Hugh McIlvain began a small lumber enterprise near Philadelphia, he couldn’t dream of the lumber legacy that would continue 7 generations and 200 years from then. The location along the Schuylkill River was perfectly poised for the city’s early westward expansion. While Napoleon’s conquest across the pond was causing many lumber exporters to flounder, McIlvain lumber was contributing to the very buildings where our Supreme Court meets, the president lives, and Congress convenes.
McIlvain Lumber would continue to grow and develop over the next century, becoming known for quality hardwoods. Both individual builders and pivotal industries would learn to rely on this small but growing family business. As the railroad’s far-reaching expansion gave way to the automotive industry, McIlvain lumber would meet the changing needs of our nation’s growth.
Our current J. Gibson McIlvain headquarters near Baltimore in White Marsh, Maryland, were established in 1960, providing a key locale for importing lumber. As we extended our offerings to include not only domestic but also exotic species of wood, we continued to see our business flourish.
Establishing partnerships with sawmills in South America, Europe, and Africa allowed us to keep prices reasonable for our customers due to direct importing. Other additions during the 1900s included a lumber yard in Danielson, Connecticut, and a California location that allows us to ship most lumber products to anyplace in the U.S. within a 2-week time period.
Now in the 2000s, our company is still a family-owned enterprise that celebrates our nation’s history. Our president, J. Gibson McIlvain III, continues in the tradition his ancestors began. Of course, it would be a shame for us to rely on our past successes and discontinue the high caliber of professionalism for which we’ve been known. Instead, we appreciate our rich heritage and wish to continue in the same vein. With seventh-generation McIlvains like our international purchaser, Caroline McIlvain, continuing the legacy, we anticipate providing continued quality products and customer service in the decades ahead.
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