The big “50” might strike fear in the hearts of some. But to Pixley Lumber Company, turning 50 this year is a time for celebration, a big celebration.
Paul Pixley, second generation leader of the company, said it is also a time of sharing the successes of five decades with others in the Claremore community. And especially those, like him, whose family business dates back 50 years or more with continued active involvement by founding family members.
The late Warren Pixley, company founder, was always about service; service to his customers and to his community. That philosophy continues, says Paul, whose sons, Chris and Mark, are third generation company associates. His sister, Mary Pixley Warden, is also associated with the company.
To say service to customers was a priority could go back to the first sale made from that abandoned Long Bell Lumber yard. It was purchased with the help of Warren’s brother, Paul, then a Chelsea lumber dealer.
Jim Casey, the company’s first employee, was hosing down the new site when a man stopped by and asked if they had hoses for sale. Paul says the story goes that Warren told Casey to drop everything and rush to Wilson Hardware (about a block away on the corner of Will Rogers and Missouri), buy a hose and sell it to the man for just what he paid for it.
“That was the first sale,” said Paul, but set a precedent for the future of the company, even to a time when, to meet customer needs, they became their own supplier of pre-hung wood and steel door units at their own “Door Plant.”
The doors to Pixley Lumber Company at 220 N. Missouri were opened in October of 1963.
To memorialize this time and to pay tribute to others with a business heritage in the Claremore community, Pixley Lumber will host a family event on Friday, Sept. 27, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to share with the public and Pixley customers.
There will be clowns, magicians, face painting, and a flyover by Joe Bacon of Pryor, in honor of Warren Pixley’s World War II military service. There will be a chain saw carver, a BB gun range manned by J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum and dunk tank with an opportunity to dunk Alma Chancy, door plant manager, and Mark Pixley.
Free hamburgers and hot dogs are on the menu from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., thanks to Cedar Creek Wholesale, an important vendor.
Patricia Pixley, matriarch of the family, will be on hand to share in the occasion, as will other members of the Pixley clan not active in the company; Joe and John and their families, and Ruth Stone and her family.
The company has grown from the time Warren moved his growing family into a tiny house between the old Lucky and Star Motels on the Highway 66 access road, to the move into a new home in the Marlar Addition on 16th Street.
The lumberyard move to present location at 715 West Will Rogers Boulevard in 1971 was a massive investment and business undertaking, with 7,560 square feet of floor space, 9,000 feet of warehouse with racks, and additional storage above offices.
Additional storage means all lumber under one roof as well as updating the retail area, technical capabilities and adding employees.
The company now boasts 46 employees and the latest in technical equipment and late model vehicles and loading aids.
Warren Pixley, who died in 2003, was active in the Claremore Chamber of Commerce, served as a director of Rogers County Bank, and was a leading supporter of formation of Claremore Junior College, later Rogers State University, Rogers County Homebuilders, Zebra sports, and professional organizations. Mrs. Pixley served as a member of the college board of regents.
Warren shared a passion with his wife for Meals on Wheels, a program in which she continues to be active.
Paul has followed in his father’s footsteps in activities of the Chamber, Homebuilders, professional organizations, American Legion Baseball, and board member of BancFirst.
Members of Paul’s self-proclaimed “50 Years in Business in Claremore in the Same Family Club” include Neely Insurance, Akin Plumbing, RCB Bank, Claremore Nursing Home, Love Air Conditioning, Warehouse Market, and Burrows Agency, like the Pixley’s are three generations; Dunlap Auto Glass and Wrecker Service, Melton Sales, Swan Brothers Dairy, and Froman Oil and Propane, four generations; and R&S Auto Parts and Jack Kissee Ford, two generations.
Some of them have been in business more than 50 years.
Paul is quick to point out other businesses 50 years old and older, but with a shorter history in Claremore including Reasor’s, Sonic, Stillwater Milling and McDonalds.
Then there are those not controlled by a founding family member, but with a long history of family service and in business in Claremore for the last half century or longer. That list would include Dot’s Café, one-time Gray Goose, owned by Cecil Chenoweth, then Nell’s Café, owned by Nell Sparks before becoming Dot’s, now operated by three generations of the Washom family.
Heins Jewelry was passed down to Clara Heins Evans, then to Jack West and now operated by Vic West. Others are Musgrove-Merriott-Smith Funeral Service and Crematory, Rice Funeral Service, Dorothy’s Flowers and the 121-year-old Claremore Daily Progress.