Wilson Building Supplies

Wilson Building Supplies will be closing by mid-January. Debbie Wilson (from left) and her husband, Bill, founder Barb Wilson, Debby and her brother, Jim, will be retiring after closing the long-time local construction business.

VERNON TOWNSHIP — After 70 years in business, Wilson Building Supplies Inc. will close by mid-January.

Though not an easy decision for the family, it's become time to retire.

"We hate to see it go, but we want to retire," said Barb Wilson, the 88-year-old matriarch of the family. "We really don't have anyone to take it over."

Wilson's three children who work at the business as well as a daughter-in-law all are of retirement age.

Barb and her late husband, William, began the business as a saw mill at Harmonsburg Road and Route 102 in Vernon Township.

"They all grew up in the saw mill yard," she said of her children — Debby, Jim and Bill Wilson, who all work at the business as well as Bill's wife, Debbie. Another daughter, Carol, also had worked at the business; she passed away in June 2016 at age 57 from melanoma.

The business — as well as the way of doing business — evolved over the multiple decades. It went from a saw mill to an expansion into general building supplies. It also sold tractors, snowmobiles and lawnmowers, and industrial gases at various period.

In the early years, building products were delivered by rail into Meadville, but then had to be loaded onto trucks and taken to the yard where they were unloaded by hand.

Computerization of the business in 1984 help track inventory needs and orders.

However, what has changed the business and been a major factor in the decision to retire has been the COVID-19 pandemic which has disrupted the supply chain.

"We'll miss the customers and the relationships we've had with them," Bill Wilson said. "But you can't get supplies and when you do get them, they're priced at the time they ship them and they don't ship them for six months."

"Everything is on allocation," Debby Wilson said of supply chain issues. "The pandemic — that was the biggest driving factor."

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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