Around Town

How a small business has stayed alive in Charlotte for 70 years

Queen City Lumber and Supply Company has been nestled between the Chantilly and Elizabeth neighborhoods for 70 years. Chuck McShane, the Director of Research at the Charlotte Chamber, said, “Less than 25 percent of all businesses survive for 20 years, so for any company to make it 70 years is very rare.”

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H. B. “Berry” Hatley worked at several other Charlotte lumber companies before WWII, and in 1946 decided to go out on his own. Hatley and Wade Wilkerson purchased the land and opened Queen City Lumber and Company with eight employees.

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Clyde Hatley

Clyde, Hatley’s son, worked at the lumber yard too. After 10 years, Wilkerson was bought out by Berry Hatley’s brother, Van. It became a Hatley family business with various members taking over the reins for the past 60 years.

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Web Hatley

Web Hatley, Clyde’s son, received both undergraduate and master’s degrees in wood science from NC State University. Web joined QC Lumber staff full-time in 1984 and took over all operations in 2004. Of his years at QC Lumber, Web, not without emotion, says, “Good to keep a family business going. Good sense of accomplishment.”

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Queen City Lumber in 2016

Over time, QC Lumber became known as the place to get specialty lumber and custom made decorative molding, custom doors, shutters, furniture, siding and windows. In the beginning, this separated them from the small lumber yards, and later it saved them from closing when big box stores opened in Charlotte.

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According to Web, QC Lumber would not be in business if not for their expertise in finding, making or matching wood: “Even when I first started, my uncle Van had found a niche –carrying specialty lumber, and that’s where people gradually began to seek us out.”

Service is the other reason QC Lumber has stayed in business so long. Web firmly believes that anyone can sell you a 2×4, but help with a problem sets them apart from other stores. Employees at QC Lumber have a construction background and can suggest ways to solve a design or building problem.

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Dan Daywalt, a project manager for Salins Group, has been a QC Lumber customer for eight years. He says, “Queen City impressed me with their ability to work with difficult concepts. They also deliver on time unlike other businesses.”

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Web recalls the days of his uncle and father’s expectation of strong customer service: “That’s another thing that from the very beginning, my daddy and my uncle bent over backwards to help a customer.”

Web carried on that tradition and says of his employees, “It’s actually better now, these guys will do anything. That is the key for keeping a customer. That’s the biggest thing we got.”

Photos: Queen City Lumber, Vanessa Infanzon