144-year-old company will continue to operate under current name as Benson Lumber takes over
By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Company, the second oldest business in Laconia, has been sold to Benson Lumber and Hardware of Derry and Londonderry, but will continue to operate under its familiar name and with the same staff its customers have grown used to.
Sally McGarry, Boulia-Gorrell president and general manager, said there is a shared synergy with the new owners, who, like the Veazey family, have owned their business for four generations.
"We truly felt this was the right direction for the future of the company. We are very dedicated to our customers and we wanted the same level of customer service to continue,'' said McGarry, who has been in charge of the company's operations for 20 years.
"The friendly and long-term staff at Boulia-Gorrell will remain the same and they will continue to provide the same quality product and services, but customers will also see new products on the shelves," said McGarry.
Grant Benson, one of the owners of Benson Lumber and Hardware, said, "Before we began to expand, our business began at a size similar to Boulia-Gorrell's. With many of Benson's employees being long-term, you can expect knowledgeable help with your home improvement and commercial projects."
He said the family-owned Benson Lumber has been in business for 103 years and, like Boulia-Gorrell, has a history of being involved with their communities, assisting with such programs as Derry Girls and Boys Clubs, Beautify Londonderry, and local Cub and Boy Scouts.
Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Company is 144 years old, and the company name dates back to 1872, when Julius Boulia and Horace Gorrell opened a sawmill and finish mill in Lakeport, just below the dam. Later, they added a cabinet shop and factories that built boxes and crutches. The entire operation was consumed, along with much of Lakeport, by the great fire of 1903, but was rebuilt in the same location.
By 1918, the owners were facing organizational and financing challenges, and sold the business to William D. Veazey, an attorney in town and McGarry's great-grandfather. The mill was again destroyed by fire later that year, but was rebuilt and modernized. Within a couple of decades of Veazey ownership, the company was operating two lumber processing facilities, one at the original Lakeport site and a second on the shore of Paugus Bay near the current site of Watermark Marine Construction. Veazey had also purchased Cook Construction, on Fair Street, the six acres of Winnipesaukee River-front property where the business is located today.
The two mills on the shore of Paugus Bay put the company in position to capitalize on the hurricane of 1938, which flattened forests throughout New England. Loggers raced to harvest the best trees before rot could set in. The logs were brought by train from lumber mills to the north to the shores of Winnipesaukee, which were towed by steamboats across the lake and then into Paugus Bay, which was chock full of lumber waiting to be processed.
John Veazey , who died in 2010, leaving the business in the care of his son Allen, nephew Charles Veazey, and daughter, McGarry. He also led a political career as a representative in the New Hampshire State House and an influential member of the state's Republican Party. Many future presidents, and nearly all candidates for governor, made stops to confer with Veazey at the business, which by then had consolidated to the Fair Street location. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush all spent time in the Boulia-Gorrell cabinet shop.
The Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Company has ben sold to Benson Lumber and Hardware of Derry and Londonderry, but will continue to operate under its familiar name and with the same staff its customers have grown used to. (Courtesy photo)