Recently, a woman walked into Gloor Hardware & Specialty Lumber and, mystified, asked her companion, “Are we in Gloor’s?” She had reason to be confused. Since late August, the 64-year-old lumber business has undergone a total makeover inside and out.
“We’re trying to bring it back to the glory it was,” said Stanley Tomlin, Gloor Hardware & Specialty Lumber’s general manager since August. “We’ve just gone through a major restocking of merchandise. We literally took everything out and brought in everything new.”
Inventory that had been around for up to 20 years – tools, nuts and bolts, shovels — was sold off at deep discounts or given away to a local church. Tomlin replaced their non-longer-attentive hardware supplier of 30 years and adjusted the pricing structure. New exterior and interior lights were installed, and trees were trimmed to make the business more visible.
Tomlin began with changes in the outside lumber yard and warehouses. He was aware that the employees were concerned about getting out of their comfort zone and doing things in a new way. “I told them they would not be working harder. They would be working smarter. Now it’s easier to reach certain places. We had a lot of cleaning up to do. We got it done, and they have adjusted really well.”
Alton Gloor, who owned the large stretch of land from Paredes Line Road to the Expressway and helped develop it, moved his lumber store there after a fire at the original location. Gloor donated several parcels of land to the city (including the water tower site) along what is now Alton Gloor Blvd. The company, which has sponsored Little League since 1953, continues to donate trees to the city instead of having them bulldozed. Gloor’s sons Len and Les got into the family businesses, with Len running Gloor Lumber until his death. Then Les hired Tomlin, who had lumberyard experience.
“Our mainstay is custom builders, with a lot of small contractors and some walk-in, do-it-yourselfers. The custom builders, they know that it is all about quality. No one can compete with us on quality. We have all number one lumber. We buy structural grade. Contractors don’t need to return unusable studs because we sell only what we would use ourselves,” Tomlin said.
Prime wood is kept inside the warehouse or under a roof. Even lesser grades stored outside are wrapped for protection against sun and rain. Inside big 4×12 cedar beams and other wood products are remarkably straight and knot-less. “We are one of the few stores carrying 1×12 lap-and-gap. The lip breaks so easily,” Tomlin explained, “but we handle wood very carefully. My fork life operators are told, number one, to be safe and number two to drive slowly and handle wood with respect so it doesn’t break. We do a lot things by hand that others do by forklift.”
Gloor has been embedded in the community for generations and is still family-owned, Tomlin said. “A lot of people don’t understand — and it’s really dear to my heart — that every penny you spend in this store stays in Brownsville, Texas.”
Gloor’s future will include more supplies for custom home builders: outdoor kitchens in particular as well as custom light fixtures, wall outlet covers with built-in LED lights and sensors. “We’re not done yet. We’re still re-organizing and deciding what to do,” manager David Garcia said. “Your custom home builders and really good contractors do plan ahead. We’re talking with one who hasn’t broken ground yet.”
Tomlin said Gloor might expand into farm and ranchette supplies such as hog panels, gates, water troughs and electric fencing. “We are on edge of town and have got the space. We can be competitive.”
Besides quality products, Gloor excels at customer service, Tomlin said. “We like to treat customers well and show them the respect they are due. Now we need to bring in different folks who haven’t seen the changes and how we have brought the store up to date.”
For more information call 546-4244.
This story by Eileen Mattei appears in the January 2017 print edition of Valley Business Report. appears in the December 2016 print edition of Valley Business Report.