His entry into the lumber business was a fortunate accident.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
President, Hamshaw Lumber, Inc.
Favorite professors: “Professor Ernst in history, who really pushed me to work harder. And of course, Professors Russell and Rasmussen.”
Favorite college memory: “Serving on a regional student focus group run by Nelson Rockefeller.”
Advice to students: “Keep your head on straight in the first year. Be serious about your studies.”
Building on a Chance Opportunity
Doug Hamshaw ’72 doesn’t regard his own success story as one for the faint of heart to emulate. In 1980, he took a risk, and purchased the debt of the privately owned lumberyard he had been working for. He inherited more than 300 creditors and a struggling business.
“I had to make my first lumber purchase on a personal credit card,” he says. “But I knew I had an opportunity to make money here, and I stuck with it.”
With a mix of savvy negotiation and a dogged determination to treat his customers like family, Mr. Hamshaw has more than rekindled his business. In 1984, he moved the original yard to a new location, and in 1988 added a second yard with a hardware store. In the first seven years, he saw average annual growth of 40 percent.
Today, he presides over a three-state operation that includes several retail stores and employs more than 135 people. His most recent additions were two tack stores, catering to the many equestrian enthusiasts in New Hampshire and Saratoga Springs, New York.
Mr. Hamshaw faced one of his largest challenges in 2003, when the Home Depot opened a store down the road.
“I was worried,” he says. “I did my homework, and I spent two years educating my customers and employees about the value of a smaller store that pays attention to its customers. We can provide a convenience and level of service that they cannot.”
His drive-in lumberyard continues to be the foundation of his business. Where the logging industry often has a controversial reputation, Mr. Hamshaw, a biology major with an interest in environmental sciences, sees the industry as a very sustainably managed business.
“Lumber is grown and harvested like a crop,” he says. “It’s one of the most renewable resources we have.”
Mr. Hamshaw’s entry into the lumber business was a fortunate accident. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he began to pursue an M.B.A. and found part-time employment in a lumberyard. He and his wife relocated to New Hampshire when he was hired to be the assistant director of a children’s camp in southern New Hampshire run by his other alma mater, the Waldorf School of Garden City, where his mother taught for more than 30 years.
After the birth of their first child, he began looking for a full-time job, and found an opening at a familiar place: a struggling lumberyard. One month later, he became the new owner.
Mr. Hamshaw and his wife Marianne live in Marlborough, New Hampshire, with their three children. His mother has since joined them in New England. In his spare time, he enjoys home improvement projects and the great outdoors.
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