The story of Porters Building Centers starts all the way back in 1952 as Kearney Lumber Company. Mack Porter, founder of the business, had been teaching High School in Highland, Kansas for three years. He taught math, science, and was the head coach for all three sports offered. He decided if he was going to work that hard for not much pay, he was going to work for himself.
Mack and his wife, Mary Helen, cashed in what he saved from teaching and what she saved from working at the local hardware store in Highland. They moved to Kearney, Missouri and started renting an abandoned lumberyard which at the time was being used as housing for hogs, chickens, and mules! What they didn’t know when deciding a tentative opening date, was that on that day, they would give birth to their first son Craig. So, literally from the first day open, Porters has always been about the small town, local family.
Being the new guy in town, Mack had to grind for every customer. Something we still strive to live up to today, Mack developed a reputation for excellent customer service. Most of the time working all day out of his truck, he would deliver and hand unload pallets of blocks to his customers right to the spot they were going to need them; something they were surely not accustomed to. To make a point of the sacrifice this little family made: One day a hail storm moved in and damaged many of the roofs in town. Mack sold Mary Helen’s new car to buy a truck load of shingles so that people could quickly repair their roofs. Mack hand loaded and unloaded every one of 300, seventy pound bundles in a day’s time. Let’s not forget that while Mack was out bending over backwards to earn business, Mary Helen was at home keeping the books while still taking care of their son.
After several years in business and developing a small customer base, Mack and Mary Helen decided to open a new store in Braymer. The same week they opened in September of ’56, making a habit of it, they had their second son Kent.
As the family grew, so did the business. By the time their third child, Kristy, came in August of ’61, the business had grown to four stores. As their children grew up, they all chipped in at the family store. In large part to the terrific community and customers, the Porter family was a living embodiment of the “American Dream.”
Kearney Lumber Company became Porters Building Centers in 1976 when the Kearney store built a brand new building, where it is currently located. Since then, Porters has become three locations in Kearney and Elwood, Kansas and Laurie in Missouri. To this day, Mack still drives himself to work and contributes to the business as our Lumber Buyer. Kent is the current owner and operator of Porters Building Centers. Craig is the owner and operator of the split off contractor yard, Porters Wholesale, in Mosby. Even Kristy still comes in once a week to help out. Kent’s daughter and son, Natalie and Alex, also work in the office at Porters, making our stores three generations full of family operation.
The Porter family owes a debt of gratitude not only to Mack and Mary Helen for laying the ground work, but to the loyal, amazing, hardworking customers and employees from the communities we have the privilege of serving. The Porter family appreciates your patronage and hopes to always be able to help you with your lumber and hardware needs. “We’re Here to Help”