Seattle’s Compton Lumber Celebrates 125 Years

By / 7 months ago

From left: Steve Compton, operations manager; John Compton, president; Greg Compton, shipping supervisor.

SEATTLE – Compton Lumber, a family-owned provider of lumber products and expert customer service, recently announced its 125th anniversary. Since its founding in 1892, Compton Lumber has played a role in supporting the growth of the Seattle landscape, partnering with the pillars of local business, community organizations and the arts.

“Horace F. Compton, my great grandfather and founder of the company, got his start by working at the lumber mill run by Seattle pioneer, David F. Denny,” said John Compton, president of Compton Lumber. “In the face of a severe economic depression in 1892, Horace harnessed his entrepreneurial spirit, and with a capital investment of $300 established the first retail lumber business west of the Mississippi.”

From its early beginnings, Compton Lumber placed great value on providing its customers with not just high quality lumber and building materials, but also with superior customer service. This emphasis allowed the company to withstand the ups and downs of the building industry over the years. Many of its current customers date back to the 1900s, including Nordstrom, the University of Washington and Bartell Drug Stores.

Horace F. Compton at the original location.

“Creating partnerships through understanding the needs of our customers has been paramount to our success,” said Compton, who earned his first penny of allowance working for the family business. “This approach has been supported by five generations of the Compton family and all of our employees.”

“Compton Is not just a vendor, but an active part of our team,” said Michael Moore, Scenic Studios Manager for the Seattle Opera. “For over 40 years, Compton has been part of nearly every set seen on our stage. Their value is in the true interest and understanding of what we’re doing. One day they might introduce us to a new product, and if needed on another, they would deliver glue at 3:00 a.m. before opening night. Compton is a fantastic partner.”

Whether helping walk-in customers select a single unique board, or managing long-term commercial accounts with regular on-site deliveries, the sales team at Compton makes a point of treating everyone as an extension of the company’s family, providing expert advice and finding just-right solutions. Today’s modest-sized sales team of nine is made up of people with in-depth industry knowledge, including some with more than 20 years at Compton alone.

Dave Borgatti, Instructor at the Seattle Central College’s Wood Technology Center, started off as a regular customer, and was so impressed with the Compton team that he has now led quarterly student tours at Compton for more than 15 years.

“Most retailers today are impersonal and tough, but Compton is the most friendly and knowledgeable place around,” said Borgatti. “Plus, you know what you’re getting is of great quality, whether on the floor or specially ordered.”

In addition to carrying a variety of hardwood lumber, Compton offers a substantial door and plywood inventory, including fire-retardant options, as well as decorative moulding and a vast array of other building materials. The in-house millwork and door shops allow for quick and skilled customization.

Compton’s growth over the last 125 years has necessitated several moves from its original spot at the foot of Columbia Street, but the business has always remained within the city. Compton has been at its current SODO location for 31 years, and is one of the rare lumberyards left in an urban setting.

“We are proud to uphold the 125-year tradition of providing our customers with dependable service and high-grade products, from a convenient location for pick-up and quick delivery,” added Compton. “This year’s anniversary reminds us that our customer-centric philosophy has worked, and we look forward to continuing our partnerships within Seattle’s building industry.”

Source: Compton Lumber


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