Frozen In Time: 125 Years Of Mathew Hall Lumber Co. [VIDEO]
ST. CLOUD -- Mathew Hall Lumber Company is the oldest business in St. Cloud that is still run by the founding family.
Mathew Hall started the lumber company in 1889. There were many sawmills in the area at the time and he saw a need to open a retail lumber yard.
By 1910, Hall realized there was a demand for expansion and built three large lumber sheds. The original building was located where their downtown warehouse currently sits.
Loran Hall is the current president and fourth generation owner of Mathew Hall Lumber Company. He says when the business first started it was located in the middle of nowhere.
"We were outside of the downtown trade area. There was nothing around here back in 1889," says Loran Hall.
By 1915, the company started delivering lumber to its customers using horses. There was a stable located on-site and a full-time employee whose job was to take care of the horses.
The company moved to its current location next to Cathedral High School in 1928. It was originally owned by a farm implement dealer.
There were fears that the business was going to be sold to an outside party. Hall's grandson James decided to lay out a business plan and buy the company in 1967.
John Hall is the company's fourth generation vice president. He says in the 1970s the lumber yard went on strike so he gathered up some of his high school friends and went to work.
John says it's a unique business because, "you can always deal with a Hall...We've always been here. We've made it our lives and our careers."
Loran says even though they've kept up with the changing technology they still operate the way they have for years by their great-grandfather's motto, "treat each customer as a personal friend."
Today there are more than 70 employees--some that have worked with the company for more than 30 years.
Loran, John and Dan Hall have been fourth generation owners for about ten years. In addition to their local facility they also have a ten acre site located about seven miles west of St. Cloud that contains their manufacturing and distribution center.
The Hall family's fifth generation currently works for the company. Loran says, "I want to leave it better than I found it. Hopefully someone else will have an opportunity to leave it better than they found it."