Lumbermen’s Merchandising Corporation


In the early 1930’s the lumber industry – manufacturers and retailers alike – focused their attention on reducing overhead and seeking more efficient means of operation. In order to achieve their goals, they would have to pay more attention to buying.

Group buying was then in its infancy. The Associated Merchandising Corporation of New York City, a huge buying cooperating merchandising group of large independent department stores was probably the most notable. Their members were non-competitive and shared basically the same financial and merchandising concepts.

AMC’s philosophy was simple – quantity discounts. By pooling their buying, the members of AMC were able to achieve large trade discounts.

Hearings on the new Robinson-Patman Act pointed up the enormous discounts granted, particularly in the mail-order and large chain-grocery fields. This had a great appeal to retail lumber dealers. They had already experimented in pooling to purchase car-loads of slow-moving items such as millwork, moulding, and high-grade lumber.


One group of lumber dealers, in Pennsylvania, led by Fred H. Kessler, president of Central Lumber Company in Reading, sought to carry group buying a step further.

James L. Buckley Sr., Secretary-Manager of the Middle Atlantic Lumbermen’s Association, who had previously met with the president of the Associated Merchandising Corporation of New York, set up a meeting with Fred Kessler. During this meeting, the two drew up a list of some forty to forty-five names of prominent retail lumber retailers. Kessler and Buckley approached the companies on this list. The first twelve quickly jumped on board.

A meeting was planned for early July, 1935 to be held at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. Fred Kessler chaired the meeting during which the following points were agreed upon:

  1. The corporation would be set up and would be known as Lumbermen’s Merchandising Corporation.
  2. A minimum of thirty-five dealers would be needed to get it started.
  3. Each dealer would subscribe to one share of $100 common stock.
  4. Subscription for market bulletins would be $30 per month, plus other charges as required.


LMC has gone through many changes since the original thirty-five got together in 1935. That first year the volume was almost $600,000. Today, there are over 370 stockholder companies and annual sales volume exceeds three billion dollars.

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