In 2019, our company celebrated its 110th anniversary! Wilson Worth Starr began the business in 1909, and his family continues to own and operate the company today. The company has been under the leadership of only 3 different managers in its 100 year history.
W.W. Starr began the company on November 1, 1909. The initial capital to start the business was a loan from a local druggist who was Starr's previous employer. Assets included a wagon, a team of 2 mules and 1 hired hand. During his lifetime, Starr acquired lumber yards in nearby communities, and the number of retail locations reached 14 at its peak. Throughout his lifetime, Mr. Starr earned a reputation as a community builder as well as a successful businessman.
Mr. and Mrs. Starr had only one child, Mildred. She married Norman Ryerson, and electrical engineer from Chicago. The Ryersons moved to Oklahoma, where Norman worked for Mr. Starr, and eventually succeeded him as chief operator. During Ryerson's tenure, the company closed many of the retail sites, most in small towns that were declining. At the same time, competition and transportation had improved, so Ryerson concentrated his focus on strengthening the Alva location, the largest market. Aging and wanting to pursue other interests, Ryerson realized the need for new leadership and turned the business over to his only son, Richard, in 1960.
Richard Ryerson entered the business and immediately finished the job his father started, closing the Hopeton, Carmen, and Dacoma locations. Under his leadership, the company prospered and acquired 3 new and larger lumber yards, one in Woodward, Oklahoma and one in Blackwell, Oklahoma and the newest location in Enid, Oklahoma. Another important strategic move involved major investments in all 4 locations to transition from a store-front lumber yard to a larger home center format. Today, Richard Ryerson remains a significant stockholder and General Manager of the company. In 1998, Richard Ryerson welcomed his son, John Ryerson, to join him in the family business after ten years in the financial sector. John currently serves as Vice President of the Corporation and Manager of the Alva location.