G.W. Smith Lumber Co., Davidson County’s’ oldest lumber & building materials firm celebrates its 110th Anniversary
G.W. Smith Lumber Company was founded in 1905 by Griff W. Smith, who also served as chairman of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners for over 22 years. The business was first established at 310 East Center Street behind Mr. Smith’s house, presently Tastings Wine and Beer Shop. At times, Mrs. Smith (Nora) was even called on to tend the planer. She finally convinced Smith to move the business so she could tend to her own “yard work.”
In 1921, Griff Smith moved the original office to its present location at 720 West Center Street. The structure was hauled by wagon across town and set on a new foundation. The old office now serves as the entrance sign and historical museum for the present day professional building supply complex.
The business began with the manufacturing and delivery of lumber for construction with the use of only horse and wagon. J. Frank Smith, former partner and the son of the founder, recalled, “The rocks on Main Street used to make the delivery wagon joggle as the ‘ol horse, Bob, pulled it through downtown.” From the days of horse and wagon, G.W. Smith Lumber now deploys a fleet of heavy trucks including boom, forklift mounted, covered and four wheel drive trucks to insure proper delivery of materials to professional jobsites.
G. W. Smith Lumber has sold over one billion board feet of lumber since 1905. Millwork became so important to the business that it started a separate operation named Smith Millwork at 920 Robbins Street in 1979. Over 19 years through the able leadership of Ellis Myers, Smith Millwork outgrew its parent. The operation now wholesales moldings, door parts, columns, railing, and decking throughout the Southeast. Smith Millwork specializes in the manufacture of fine custom moldings and presently has over 1,000 custom knives.
In the beginning, G.W. Smith Lumber manufactured framing lumber, but now inventories over 4,000 items with over 120,000 items available upon special order. Recently, the firm has become more dominant in the finish end of the home with a design showroom featuring kitchens and baths, windows, doors, counter tops, molding, and builders’ hardware. G. W. Smith Lumber is a complete builder’s supply that caters to professional builders with “everything for the home from the tree to the key.”
The management of G.W. Smith Lumber Co. has passed through four generations. Founder Griff W. Smith turned over the business to his sons Griff, Jr., Frank, and Bruce in 1940, with Bruce eventually becoming sole owner. Upon Bruce’s untimely death in 1966, his sons Jerry, R.B., Dan, and Steve gained ownership, with Jerry and Dan directly involved in the management of the company. In 1985, Dan sold his share of the business to his brothers. Jerry Smith serves as president of Smith Companies, Inc. with Steve Smith serving as vice president.
Mark Smith is president and general manager of G.W. Smith Lumber. Ted Smith is president of Smith Millwork. In 1997, the Smith Brothers established the Bruce and Eleanor Smith Charitable Foundation that supports many Davidson County charities and continues the company’s policy of community involvement.
The Smith Companies work as a team to serve the needs of their customers. “For the past 110 years, our customers have always been the chairman of our board,” states Jerry Smith. G.W. Smith appreciates the support it has earned from its many friends and customers over the last four generations and pledges to prove “There is a material difference” for generations to come!