The year 1898 was a significant one in Canadian history. In those early days of the gold rush, Yukon became a territory unto itself, a first attempt at federal alcohol prohibition was made, and a young entrepreneur by the name of George C. Goodfellow began his foray into the world of lumber.
Despite recessions and depressions, wars and technological advancements, the wholesale business that started 120 years ago in a lumber yard in Montreal has maintained its status as Canada’s largest distributor, processor and importer of specialty wood products. Goodfellow’s legacy has stood the test of time.
Since the opening of its Calgary branch 23 years ago, Goodfellow has expanded its footprint substantially. To adjust to market demands and the need for additional space, the company relocated in November 2017 to a more suitable premises with ample square footage for inventory storage. In addition to construction-related products, the wholesale distributor also carries pressure-treated lumber, glue-laminated wood beam structures, wood sidings and a complete range of plywood and specialty wood panels.
General manager of the Prairies region, Wes Clifford has been with Goodfellow since 2006 but is no stranger to the industry. “I’ve been in the wood business for more than 30 years now,” he says. “My father was in the building material industry, so I grew up in the lumber yard.”
Longevity seems to be the underlying theme at Goodfellow. Since its very beginning, it has continuously extended its product lines and adjusted to the needs of the market.
“We supply the industrial segment which includes cabinet shops, moulding manufacturers and commercial millworks shops,” says Clifford. “We also distribute to building supply outlets – RONA/Lowes, Home Hardware, to name a few.”
Although Goodfellow’s niche is flooring and siding, the company is strong in panels, lumber and composite decking. With an in-house paint shop, customers are given custom finishing options for fibre cement, engineered siding and real wood.
Mike Tschumi has been with the company for 16 years and is proud of the evolution. “When I started, we were primarily just a flooring wholesaler mostly due to space restrictions,” he says. “When we moved to this site, we were able to expand our inventory. Now we stock composite decking, hardwood lumber, industrial panels and so on.”
“When we stumbled upon this location, we noticed there was a large parking lot behind the building that wasn’t being utilized,” says Clifford. “We were fortunate to be able to convert it into what is now our storage yard.”
Having room for growth means the 120-year-old company can continue to introduce new and innovative products to keep up with the demands of the market. With the ever-changing residential design trends and engineering advancements particularly in the flooring world, keeping up is more important than ever.
“Right now, demand is strong for vinyl,” says Tschumi. “It’s easy to maintain and install, and comes with a reasonable price tag. Part of the beauty of this company is that we have easy access to stock across the country. If we need to transfer something in, there are trucks running across our branches on a weekly basis.”
Convenience, flexibility and expertise are at the core of everything they do at Goodfellow. The team of 18 in the Calgary office work hard every day to prove it. With a culture of advancement and promote-from-within, the hard work is recognized and rewarded.
“We have a really strong team, from operations and administration to sales and management,” says Clifford. “It’s a close-knit group of people who genuinely want to see others succeed. A lot of our employees have been with us for 10-plus years.”
It’s safe to say the company culture plays a large part in Goodfellow’s ability to ride out stormy weather. The team as a whole is focused on the overarching business goals and the success of the company. And likewise, the company is dedicated to setting its people up for role development and career growth.
With roots going back to 1898, Goodfellow has learned a bit along the way. It takes resilience and a willingness to change to weather more than a century. Showing no signs of slowing down, the industry-leading wood specialist is trailblazing into the next 120 years.