Glenora Lumber, the location for complete lumber solutions in the Edmonton area, is celebrating 60 years.
Alberta’s relationship with lumber runs deep. Although known for oil and gas, more than 60 per cent of the province is covered in another valuable resource – trees. Sustainable, natural, and with deep ties to the province’s history and settlement, lumber is essential to Alberta. Kerry Connelly and Jamie Emin are proud to be part of this history. The sibling’s grandparents, Dugald and Dorthy MacDougall, started Glenora Lumber in 1960 and it has remained a family business ever since.
As the successful founder of D. MacDougall Construction Ltd., where he specialized in commercial work and counted Safeway Inc. among the high-profile clients, Dugald was frustrated with the inconsistent service and products he received when sourcing lumber. He, along with Dorthy, decided to start a company that focused on the customer experience. What started in a home basement has grown to two facilities, a yard, a pre-fab manufacturing shop for stairs, a dedicated space for residential doors, and areas of production for millwork and custom cutting.
Over time the MacDougall’s children joined the team. Now run by the second and third generations, Glenora Lumber continues to uphold its reputation as “the building supply company you can always count on,” even as the industry enters a period of unprecedented demand among equally unprecedented pandemic conditions. With roots that go deep and an entire team dedicated to the city it serves, Glenora Lumber adapts with agility to keep providing the products and services for which it is best known.
The business’ founders instilled the importance of relationships, dedicated staff, loyal customers, reliable suppliers and respecting its diligent competitors. From its humble origins 60 years ago, these founding principles continue to guide operations today. Now, Connelly and Emin help guide the four divisions: sales, administration, shipping/receiving and remanufacturing, to support the product lines of lumber, hardware, mouldings, doors, stairs and wood vents.
“To be a part of something like this is impactful; to see from where it started to where we are today,” says Connelly. “People believed in my grandparents and in the company. We are so fortunate in this regard that our core staff have been with us for 35 years. The team is an extension of our family – a family that will see the fourth generation working here starting this summer. After 60 years we are still growing despite the changing, challenging times in the market.”
Connelly credits the deep roots, along with the team, as giving Glenora Lumber an advantage.
“As a family business, I do feel that our history and our staff set us apart. Our staff are proud to wear the Glenora badge. All have played an integral role in our success. We have maintained somewhat of a flat organizational structure, so our team is competent in many areas. This allows us to be agile, resilient and pivot/alter course when necessary.
She continues, “We are relationship-driven. Glenora Lumber may not be the largest or cheapest company of its kind, but the extra miles we go and the value we instill in each order shines through in everything we do. We are responsive and at the end of each day we know we have accomplished something. My Glenora experience means a unity in our purpose and shared pride in our history, along with gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices before us. We are committed and driven to be the building supply company you can always count on.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected business across Alberta in many different ways. Those in the lumber industry have seen an incredible jump in demand – and price. Record high prices trend while demand continues to outpace supply. How is Glenora Lumber addressing this challenge? The company is working through it the way it addresses any other challenge: intentionally, thoughtfully, and being proactive instead of reactive.
“Everyone in the industry is impacted,” Connelly admits. “The struggle is real and relevant. Raw materials are not shipping as fast, mills are closing, backlogs are seen in treating lumber – but we are on it! We have a deep history and long relationships with our suppliers, along with sound business practices and customer-facing service that are getting us through this time.”
A goal of Glenora Lumber has been to remain resilient and reliable no matter what – and this latest challenge has not altered its ability to fulfill this guiding principle. While the brand continues to rely on its network and suppliers to meet growing demand, it remains tuned into other challenges that would otherwise affect customer service.
“One of our biggest challenges is replacing core staff,” says Connelly.
The Glenora Lumber team members are long-term employees; factors like retirement leave very big shoes to fill. Experience combined with ongoing training means each core team member has a wealth of knowledge in their role. Glenora Lumber supports cross-training and industry education programs to ensure the skill level remains consistent as team members move to the next phase of their career or retirement.
“Another challenge is the world of information overload,” Connelly continues. “Pinterest, lifestyle shows and more promote trends that play out differently in real life.” Glenora Lumber keeps informed of the trends while never compromising on quality, durability and long-term customer satisfaction.
To overcome challenges, Connelly says it’s all about collaboration.
“We have opportunities to work with and collaborate with people we know, trust, and care about. Our clients and vendors have supported us for decades. This is how we succeed – by working together. Edmonton’s business community is very loyal and our clients are generational. We have grown together alongside our partners and supporters.”
Glenora Lumber does more than build up Edmonton and area with high-quality products. It builds up the community too. Just some of the charitable and non-profit interests the company supports includes the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada – Alberta Division, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, Edmonton Down Syndrome Society, the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, and many more.
The family business is humble but that hasn’t stopped the industry from recognizing it several times over. Glenora Lumber has earned a well deserved spot on Home Improvement Retailing’s Canada’s Top Retailers list, and has five consecutive years of finalist nominations and four wins in the Awards of Excellence in Housing. Further, Glenora Lumber is pleased to be associated with industry partners such as BuiltGreen, the Western Retail Lumber Association, COR, and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Edmonton Region.
On behalf of the family and team, Connelly says a very big thank you to her grandparents and parents. “We also express our sincere thanks to those behind the scenes cheering and supporting us everyday, namely, our spouses and kids. Further we gratefully acknowledge the other family members, past and present, that have contributed to Glenora Lumber’s success.
“The inspiration and idea came from our grandparents,” she says. “During the course of the business, my father took ill. My brother and I came to the forefront of the business with our mother, before what would have been the anticipated time of succession. The efforts, vision and values of those that came before us set the foundation of where we are today.”
The past sets and builds the stage for Glenora Lumber’s future.
“We will continue to train and invest in our people as well as the organization as a whole so we can remain relevant, efficient and provide the ultimate Glenora Experience. From humble beginnings we have been fortunate to sustain and evolve through both turbulent and good times. Each have presented numerous challenges along the way; many in the industry have become extended family throughout this journey. We are proud of our history and our founders who worked relentlessly to ensure that Glenora would have a strong foundation and provide the resources to grow and thrive. We are excited to be a part of the Glenora legacy and hope that our contributions will continue to grow the company while giving customers the reliable experience they deserve.”
Connelly concludes, “There is value in what Glenora Lumber does, and we do it all for you.”
14505-116 Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5M 3E8
Tel: (780) 453-5691 • Fax: (780) 454-4022
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