The Pacific Northwest


In Seattle, the pioneer hardwood concern was and is Ehrlich-Harrison & Company, established in 1903, by Frank O. Ehrlich, E.A. Abbott, and A.H. Harrison. Ehrlich-Harrison Company operated a saw from 1909 to 1911 for the manufacturing of Japanese Oak. They bought out the hardwood business of Cadwallader-Gibson in 1924, and in conjunction with the D.A. Johnson Hardwood Company, and the J.J. Matthews Hardwood Company also bought that of Van Waters and Rogers in 1931.

In 1905, D.A. Johnson, an old resident of the Northwest, and an experienced woodworker, general contractor, and sawmill operator, bought the softwood lumber business of B.F. Nudd, and started a hardwood lumber yard, with the help of his two sons he carved out a successful career.

The J.J. Matthews Hardwood Lumber Company of Seattle was established in 1923, as a successor to J.J. Matthews, who commenced his business in 1915. Mr. John W. Sumrall was the presiding genius of this concern.

The hardwood industry in Portland, Oregon started with stocks carried by planing mills for their own use. There were, of course, blacksmiths and supply houses, such as J.E. Hazeltine and Company who carried the necessary wagon hardwoods as part of their merchandise.

The first regular stock of hardwood lumber, however, was that of Nicholai Brothers & Co., planing mill operators. This firm started in 1866. It afterwards became Nicholai-Neppach Company. Ernest Hall commenced with them in 1908.

In 1910, J.S. Emerson, a lumberman of Vancouver, B.C. put up a sawmill and veneer saw in Portland for sawing up Japanese Oak logs. Charles Stetson was his representative with James Ahern, a former employee of Nicholia-Neppach Company, as assistant. A fair sized business was run for a number of years.

In 1920, the Emerson Hardwood Company was sold to Roger Sands, of Seattle, who operated it under the management of James Ahern until 1926, when the mill was closed down and the business sold to Ernest Hall of Nicholai-Neppach Company.

In Vancouver, B.C. Mr. J. Fyfe Smith, a native of Australia, where he had learned the timber trade, bought the hardwood lumber business of A.P. May & Company in 1904. The old firm had been established about the year 1900. Previous to that, the hardwood requirements of this wonderful Canadian city, as well as those of the city of Victoria, had been supplied principally from San Francisco, With a thorough knowledge of the trade, combined with British integrity and unusual business acumen, Mr. Fyfe Smith soon changed his condition to one of home industry. The genial vice-president of J. Fyfe Smith Company, Std. was Mr. Norman C. Sawers, who excepting for his period of service as a Canadian officer during World War I, was associated with the concern practically from boyhood.

The above covers the Coast, city by city, but there remains one concern which formerly extended its sphere over the entire territory. Cadwallader Gibson Co. Inc. were manufacturers of Philippine Mahogany in the Philippine Islands, and had made a success of their business. The idea of expansion caused them to establish distributing yards in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland & Seattle. The successes attending their Philippine operations were not equaled by their Pacific Coast distributing yards. The business in Seattle was sold to Ehrlich-Harrison & Company in 1924. The San Francisco stock was bought by the J.E. Higgins Lumber Company in 1925 and their Oakland yard was closed out. The Los Angeles venture was expanded into a door factory, veneer panel plant and large wholesale distributing yard. Two years after selling out in San Francisco, they returned to that city and opened up in the same location. The stock was again sold out, this time to the Kirchmann Hardwood Company. They operated as dealers solely in Los Angeles, under the presidency of Mr. B.W. Cadwallader, with Ray Ford as secretary and next in charge. After a reorganization in 1929, Roy Barto assumed control.


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