With silver balloons reading "100" hanging in front of Scruggs Lumber, Bob Scruggs choked back tears Wednesday morning as he proudly looked around at the dozens of employees around him. His daughter and fellow co-owner, Stephanie, stood off to the side, tears running down her cheeks.
Through flexibility and customer service, Scruggs Lumber has been a family-owned business for 100 years, a milestone not many businesses achieve.
"Because of these people," Scruggs said pointing at the employees, "(and) because of Jefferson City, we are 100 years old. Thank you."
Scruggs Lumber held a ribbon-cutting Wednesday to celebrate the achievement, a landmark accomplishment Stephanie said is "surreal."
Cliff Scruggs purchased George Hope Lumber Company in 1919 and operated the business alongside partner Henry Guhleman. Cliff's son, John, took over Scruggs Lumber in the late 1950s after his father died, and the Scruggs family bought out the Gulheman owners in the mid-1960s.
John's son, Bob, became the third generation to operate the business after his father semi-retired in the late 1980s. John later died in 1994.
Bob now runs Scruggs Lumber alongside his children, Stephanie and Christopher.
Originally located at the southeast corner of Jefferson and McCarty streets, the business relocated in the 1960s to the Millbottom area. In 1976, the Scruggs relocated their business to their current location at 1707 Christy Drive.
Over the last century, the Scruggs had to be flexible and keep up with the changing industry.
"Honestly and truthfully, there has been a lot that has been taken away from our business" because of the evolving industry and business, Bob said.
For example, Scruggs Lumber is no longer able to stock roofing shingles on the roof without following fall protection mandates set by the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The Scruggs have also seen a rise and evolution of specialty product contractors. Items like concrete, insulation and drywall are now predominately supplied by specialized companies. While Scruggs Lumber still offers those products, it is at reduced inventory levels compared to several years ago.
While Scruggs Lumber has had a door shop for decades, Stephanie said, Bob pushed for a finishing shop so contractors wouldn't have to paint or stain the doors. He also was a "visionary" for having forklifts on the back of the delivery trucks, she added.
"He had a vision and just really made it grow," Stephanie said. "He saw things that needed to be done for our customers."
The business also has to keep up with evolving technology. Bob said he remembers filling out the billing tickets by hand before he had a machine to do it. It's now common for customers to send text messages to salesmen with orders instead of calling the store, Stephanie added.
"We're looking down the line as to see, 'OK, we need to be ahead of all of these technologies that are coming forward,'" Bob said. "You're always having to think about what's going on in the industry."
Customer service is another key to running a long-time business, Stephanie and Bob said.
"People who have been customers of ours for so long, they can walk into the store and it's not just me, it's not just my dad, all of our employees many times can call you by name and get to know you as a customer," she said. "I think that's what makes us special and different here."
Looking forward, Bob and Stephanie said they are unsure what the future holds for Scruggs Lumber.
While she hopes the fifth generation of Scruggs will take the torch and continue the business, Stephanie said, she is not sure if they will.
With the rise of online shopping and large department stores, Bob added, he doesn't know how long a small, independent business will last.
"I really don't know how much longer (a) small business is going to be able to withstand what the future generations want to do," Bob said. "In our situation, with the heavy material that we have, we'll probably be there for some time, but I don't know how long."