Entrepreneur’s Story: Brooks Lumber– December 10, 2018 by Randy Myeroff

In this installment of Entrepreneur’s Story, highlighting the journey of successful private companies and their leaders, we focus on Ray Formosa of Brooks Lumber & Hardware in Detroit, Michigan. Over the years Ray has used valuable insights gained from a city in economic transition and from his own customers to continually reinvent the company and lead Brooks Lumber to lasting success.
Below is an excerpt from his story featured in the fall 2018 issue of Taxonomics.


During Detroit’s postwar population surge, Brooks Lumber & Hardware began running a mill and was one of 200 independent lumber yards in the city limits. “That is amazing if you think about it,” says Ray Formosa, owner of the business, relating that it’s the last standing.
With an operating mill and more warehouses — Brooks Lumber & Hardware was buying up houses in the neighborhood to grow the business. Then, in 1967, the riots changed the tenor in Detroit and Corktown. “Our business eroded, and the company fell once again on hard times, and we had to adapt just to maintain,” recalls Formosa.
The mill was shut down, and Mr. Brooks re-evaluated the business. He teamed up with Ace Hardware to become more of a complete source for shoppers, expanding from commercial into retail.
Read the full story in Taxonomics to learn more about how Ray continues to help the business evolve and find ways to differentiate the 120-year-old company in a changing market.
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