Monthly Event Highlights: Sutherland Lumber
January 11 - January 31
A slice of Kansas City History: the story of Sutherlands
I’ll bet all of us have driven up and down Main St without knowing that the National Headquarters for Sutherland Lumber is located at 40th and Main. This uninteresting building is the headquarters for over 60 lumber yards across the Midwest, west and southwestern United States.
The Sutherland family has lived in the Kansas City area for almost 100 years and still have homes in the family compound on Mission Road south of 103rd St.
The family headed by Robert Sutherland in the 1930’s began following the oil fields in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and later Kansas with the discovery of oil in southeast Kansas. Oil created boom towns and boom towns needed houses and businesses to support the black gold.
The Sutherlands moved their headquarters to Kansas City like so many other growing companies because Kansas City was and still is the rail and highway hub of the United States. Their first location was in the west bottoms on Wyoming. It was there because of its proximity to all the rail lines coming from all over the US. It was easy to receive and ship lumber, cement, gravel, steel and everything you would need to build whatever it was you needed to build.
The Sutherland Family picked the location at 40th and Main St again because of its easy access to and from work. Despite competition from the likes of Payless Cashway (long gone) bringing their National headquarters to 31st and Broadway, the Sutherland family continued to do business the way they always have. They would hire kids in high school and place them in one of their locations during the summer recess to see if they were the type that would take pride of ownership at that young age. If they were, they were hired full time after graduation from high school and then put on a course to become a store manager somewhere in their system.
Today they continue to thrive in the building materials business despite Home Depot, Lowes and giant from Brainard Minnesota, Menard’s, all over Greater Kansas City. Sutherlands continue to reinvent themselves and stay relevant in our market.
A proud member of one of Kansas City’s own multi-generation companies finding a way to turn lemons into lemonade headquartered in the Urban Core of Kansas City.
Oh, the next time you have an occasion to visit a big box home improvement center find a Sutherlands close to you. I guarantee you will notice the difference in product knowledge, service and maybe just maybe you’ll see an employee you grew up with running that location. My son’s best friend growing up on the south side of Olathe is now the manager of the Sutherlands on Wornall Rd in Waldo.
All the best-