||THE HERALD DISPATCH ARTICLE
|April 10, 2010 @ 11:00 AM
JEAN TARBETT HARDIMAN
HUNTINGTON -- Steve Waggoner suspects that some folks aren't sure of all the things his company does.
And it does a lot.
General Building Supply Inc., located at 618 7th Ave., has a retail hardware store, as well as doing installation of new windows, siding and doors. It will build a screened in porch onto the back of a house, or manufacture a new awning for a business. It also sells appliances like refrigerators and washers, and has a healthy supply of Case knives -- selling more than any other business in West Virginia.
"There's a lot more to us than what they see," he said.
The company has a fairly long, varied history, which is why people may be confused, says Waggoner, who bought the company in 1989 from Garnet Cashman and Claude Wellman.
Cashman's husband, Leonard, founded the company in 1953 as a home improvement business located at 2151 3rd Ave., now the site of Marshall University's football stadium. Garnet Cashman took over after her husband passed away in 1969, working in conjunction with Wellman.
At some point after that, it took on a focus of selling awnings and canopies. When Waggoner took over, he moved the business to its current location and started diversifying.
Today, it's about six times the size of what it was when he bought it 20 years ago, selling to the general public, as well as general contractors and businesses.
And Waggoner plans to increase the size of his hardware store, which last year was 18 percent of its overall business.
"We pride ourselves on quality workmanship," said Waggoner, who is a father of two and married to Sherry Waggoner, granddaughter to the Cashmans. She works part time as office manager of General Building Supply.
"We have a family business," Steve Waggoner said. "The community takes care of us, and we take care of them. That's how we do it."
General Building Supply makes an effort to sell quality products, he said.
"They're not always the least expensive, but they're good products," he said. "Your home is a major investment. It's usually the biggest investment of their lifetime. ... We want them to invest in things that are going to enhance the value of their home."
He said his business will "duke it out" to offer better prices than other stores, he said.
General Supply has 12 employees, including three who work in the hardware store, one in the office and the rest who work in the manufacturing shop and do installation.
Most of their business is done within a roughly 60-mile radius, eastward toward Charleston, northward toward Lucasville, Ohio, westward toward Grayson, Ky., and southward toward Williamson.
Warren Harless, who works in maintenance for Capital Venture Corp., a Huntington development company, was at the store Thursday buying paint and some other supplies to do upgrades to apartment buildings.
He's a frequent customer because, "It's convenient, they're nice people and they have good prices," he said.
General Building Supply also has built a name for itself as the largest dealer of pocket knives from the Case & Sons Cutlery Co., based out of Pennsylvania. That includes pocket knives costing $15 to collector's knives costing $800.
Some people will come in and buy pocket knives for every man in their family for Christmas presents, Steve Waggoner said.
"It's a cultural thing in this area," he said. "If they don't have a pocket knife, they're not dressed."
The only time he goes anywhere without his is when he's traveling and has to go through security.
"When I travel, I take it off. You feel naked, but you just have to do it," he said.
The store sells some for charity purposes as well, including a special edition "Support the Cure" knife that will be on sale May 8 for cancer research.
It's just another part of a diverse family business.
Sherry Waggoner previously worked as a nurse, but now works part time and said the business is part of her heart.
"My grandmother and grandfather started it, and it's nice that I can work with my husband and help make it grow," she said.
The closing of C.M. Love Hardware may create a boon for General Building Supply, but Waggoner said he's sorry to see it go. It will close April 17.
"I think there's more than enough business for everyone," he said.
The hardware store is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
About General Building Supply Inc.
WHAT: The company has a retail hardware store and it does instillation work for windows, siding, doors, porches, awnings and more. It also sells appliances and has a large selection of Case knives.
WHERE: 618 7th Ave.
HOURS: The hardware store is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
INFORMATION: The store can be reached at 304-529-2551.