By Maureen Werther
It has been about three months since Curtis Lumber transitioned several key people into new positions within the organization. According to Kylie (Curtis) Holland, a sixth-generation member of the Curtis family, the new corporate management realignment and promotions are working out well for the 127-year-old, family owned and operated lumber and retail store.
During the January transition, Holland moved into the newly created role of director of organizational development, in charge of overseeing human resources, employee training and employee development initiatives. The job allows for a more structured approach to employee training, safety and security programs and it creates a central corporate outreach location for all 21 stores across New York and Vermont, she said.
The other major change involved the creation of three vice president positions. Jon Hallgren, now a senior vice president, began his career with the company 44 years ago and is planning to retire in 2018.
“When Jon transitioned into the position of vice president, we were a much smaller company,” said Holland. “In the past 10 years, we have doubled in size. Jon’s upcoming retirement in 2018 presented a good opportunity to create the new vice president positions,” she added.
In addition to Hallgren’s role as senior vice president, the new positions are held by Liz Irish, who is vice president of information services; Doug Ford, vice president of sales and purchasing; and Rich Keating, vice president of sales and marketing.
According to Holland, Irish’s previous position had incorporated information systems under the umbrella of HR and employee relations. When the separate information systems position was created and Irish transitioned into that role, it left a gap in human resources that Holland could step into.
Holland, whose father, Jay Curtis, is the owner and president of Curtis Lumber, began working in the Ballston Spa flagship store during high school and continued there through college. Her first job was at the front desk service counter. After a few years, she moved into supervisory positions before finally moving to the corporate offices so she could learn more about how the company operates.
Curtis Lumber is one of the few family-owned and operated businesses in the lumber/retail industry that holds its own amid the world of “big box” stores. Holland attributes the success to the company’s flexibility and the equal attention it pays to both its professional customers and its retail clients.
The stores continue to attract a substantial number of “walk-in” retail customers, mainly because of its kitchen and bathroom remodeling services, a popular part of its business model.
Holland said the employees are at the core of the company’s success and longevity.
“Our employees have been with us an average of 10 years and some of them have been here for more than 35 years,” said Holland.
When asked why employees stay with the company for so long, her answer is simple:
“We have the family environment of a small company, with the stability of a big company.”
Curtis Lumber is headquartered in Ballston Spa. Its website is www.curtislumber.com.