When a business has almost 60 years of history and experience to fall back on, it shows. Like Walmart, Nike and other well-established brands, Baird Brothers has been around since the 1960s.
Unlike most companies today, they didn’t start up with any sort of complicated business plan, financing or a marketing strategy. They didn’t even have a logo.
The business was born out of necessity and a desire to make something with what was available at hand.
This is the history of Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods.
Start Small, Think Big
Like many good stories, this one begins on a small family farm.
The Baird Ellsworth Township Farm was an agricultural holding that also housed a small sawmill.
The sawmill was a source of endless fascination and possibility to the boys in the family, Howard, Paul and Richard. And, boys being boys, they soon got to wondering, “what if”?
They didn’t just sit around and think about it, though. They experimented with the old mill until they got it working and then they started asking around town about anyone needing orders for rough lumber.
Soon enough, they had their first paying customer, then the next and so on. The small business took off and they expanded into making pallets for the steel mills in Youngstown at the time, furniture, and even charcoal.
Before they knew it, these young men were working tirelessly during every moment of their free time to fill all the orders.
Their work ethic paid off and also paid for Richard and Howard’s Youngstown State University education. Over time, they celebrated milestone after milestone, buying a new truck here and extra machinery there.
Wives, relatives and friends began to help and even the smallest children got involved as the business grew (going to work with family on Saturdays — knowing that someday they, too, wanted to be a part of the family business).
The company officially incorporated in 1960. Three years later they built their first of many buildings on Crory Road. Then after another three years of slow and steady growth, in 1966 they bought their first automatic sawmill.
These humble beginnings (based on hard work, camaraderie and sticking together) are still the backbone of the company today.
One Door Closes…
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for this family endeavor, though. There were (of course) disagreements, many sleepless nights and unavoidable setbacks along the way. Despite that, Baird Brothers continued to push forward.
In 1972, the brothers set up a moulding plant at the Crory Road site to supply picture frames for a large contract. And just when things couldn’t seem to get any better, their customer went out of business.
True to form, they turned this setback into yet another opportunity.
Since they already had all the machinery needed to make the mouldings for picture frames, they shifted their focus. At that juncture, Baird Brothers became a retail operation, selling hardwood moulding for homes instead.
This shift was the catalyst for major expansion, thanks to their newfound ability to work with homeowners and contractors alike. They soon added customers from Cleveland and then western Pennsylvania to their client base.
However, another major blow came in 1988 when a devastating fire ripped through their property. Huge portions of their lumber inventory burned and several buildings crumbled to ashes during the blaze.
Amazingly, they got together, rolled up their sleeves and re-adjusted.
They moved things around and opened back up for business without missing a single day’s work (the kind of response that’s kept them in business for all these years).
Adapting to the Times
By the mid-1990s, the company had grown from 30 employees to over 100.
Thanks to this massive boost in income, the company was able to upgrade its machinery to the latest technology, which included a hardwood scanner to detect any defects in the lumber.
The company also introduced zero-waste and environmentally sustainable practices long before they became fashionable. (They recycle all the sawdust produced during woodworking as fuel for boilers that, in turn, run the factory.)
And, let’s not forget the age of the internet. Its introduction and adoption allowed Baird Brothers to take online orders and become a national vendor by shipping their products to every state.
It was the dawn of a golden age, and then the 2008-2009 recession hit. Employees who were once working overtime were barely needed full-time. Yet, Baird Brothers didn’t lay off a single employee and stuck it out until things improved.
Three generations later, Baird Brothers is still going strong and there is nowhere else that any family member would rather work.
From their story, it’s obvious that persistence, determination and flexibility have paid off for the team at Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods. What might not be so obvious is the role that their focus on customer service excellence has had on the big picture.
Customers are treated the same whether ordering one door or one hundred. Baird’s motivation is the simple time-tested adage — give the customer the kind of service you’d like to receive yourself.
This philosophy shows in their products, too. They produce a range that varies from high-end custom mouldings to items for those on a budget.
Baird Brothers does not consider their job done once they’ve rung up the purchases either. They believe that their products remain their responsibility long after installation, because they take pride in the quality of each and every single piece they produce.
This admirable sense of responsibility starts when the lumber arrives at the mill. Whether it’s poplar, maple, hickory or various other types of hardwood, it doesn’t get to the factory floor if it isn’t of the highest standard.
Every piece of wood receives the same degree of care, skillful craftsmanship and precise woodworking. If it’s going to bear the Baird name it has to be perfect!
Needless to say, as a family business focused on the Golden Rule, Baird Brothers has an extremely low staff turnover rate. Some employees have been around for 40 years or more.
The longest standing staff member (and one of the founders), Paul Baird, still arrives for work every day at the age of 77. While his late brothers may no longer be there in physical form, he knows they’re there in spirit.
At present, a third generation of sons and daughters are busy learning the ropes, and they bring with them the kind of renewed vigor and refreshing ideas that give any established company its staying power.
Baird Brothers Today
While Paul Baird still holds the position of president of the company, the business remains a hands-on operation for the whole family. Now, day to day operations are overseen by the second generation of Bairds – Scott, Mark, Matt, Lori, Terry and Tim.
Thanks to continued growth, there’s never been any problem finding a place for each new family member as they’re ready to join the team. In fact, a number of longstanding employees and specialized team members from the local community have joined the top ranks, too.
All along the way, this band of brothers has considered themselves bound to their community. They all grew up here and continue to support and participate in community life wherever possible.
They are still headquartered in Canfield, Ohio, where it all began. International and national orders take place online or on the phone.
They’ve done it all, including stepping onto the national stage with a small outfit called This Old House (you may have heard of them once or twice). Custom poker rooms, home theatres, modern floating treads, and classic staircases are all part of their portfolio.
Every year, they host the Red, White and True Festival to showcase their products and give their vendors a chance to show off their goods, too. It’s a free family event with food, drinks and fun for the whole community.
See for Yourself
Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods has a showroom right on site at their factory, and they take great pride in walking customers through the warehouse to pick out the exact products they’ve been searching for.
Why not pop in for a chat? Or, speak with a knowledgeable staff member at one of the numerous regional and national expos the company attends!
Otherwise, you can view and order an endless range of hardwood products from their website. From Brazilian cherry to locally sourced oak, engineered flooring to butcher block, you’ll find it listed in the catalog. And, you can ship to all 50 states and Canada.
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