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Company Follows Founder's Advice to Change with the Times

The Gerretsen Building Supply in Roseburg, Ore. celebrated 90 years in business in 2013.

Bill Gerretsen and a partner founded the company in 1923 that has gone through three generations of family ownership.
The founder’s advice to his successors was to “change with the changes.”  The family had many opportunities to do just that.  The Garretsen Building Supply warehouse was ground zero for the Roseburg Blast in 1959 that led to the deaths of 14 people and destroyed all the buildings within an eight block radius.  The supply store was able to rebuild at a nearby location when credit customers quickly paid their bills.
Later, in competition with national chains, the company started a contractor-support division and moved the warehouse to a more spacious site in 2000.
The family adjusted to the national recession of 2006 by reducing employment, dropping inventory and salaries and cutting advertising.  Nearby lumber mills helped out by continuing to supply the company with wood products.
Today’s owners credit the company’s survival for nearly a century to following grandpa’s instructions:  “change with the changes.”

Reed, Craig. "Built to Last, Building supplier has survived, thrived plenty in its 90 years." The News-Review 16 Sept. 2013 [Roseburg, Ore.] : 1,2. 

Dr. James S. Long was an As It Was contributor until his passing in January of 2016. He met editor Kernan Turner when Kernan spoke to the Roseburg writers’ club about contributing to JPR's As Is Was series. His contributions to As It Was ranged from a story about the recovery of whitetail deer at the old Dunning Ranch to the story of Nick Botner’s private orchard near Yoncalla created to preserve over 3,000 heritage apple varieties.