Building a better Taos. Randall Lumber and Hardware’s history is a part of Taos history.
During World War II. Elisha P. Randall, founder of Randall Lumber and Hardware. Spent many an extra hour lending his neighbors a helping hand. In those years, a number of Taos families were shorthanded because, fathers, brothers, husbands and sons were away at war. So Randall helped his neighbors put on a roof, replace a door or get other repairs completed, whatever chores were needed to keep their homes secure.
That tradition of commitment to the community, were the Randall family has deep roots, stretching back over the past century, has continued for generations.
Established in 1921, Randall Lumber and Hardware, at 315 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, the original location, is the oldest business in Taos. Today, the business is owned and operated by a third generation of Randall’s- Paula Randall Ervin, Britt Bland and David Randall. The partners are proud of their family’s historical roots and they are committed to assisting friends and neighbors, many of whom are third generation customers. The family is interested in welcoming new friends into Randall Lumber and Hardware.
“Our reason for being in business is to help people in our community have a satisfactory home”, said Paula Randall Ervin. “We’re in a business that provides people with the goods they need. You need a light bulb for your lamp. You need a good roof for your house”
More important, the family truly understands the character and personality of their friends and neighbors, many of whom are rugged individuals willing to build, repair or renovate a home on their own.
“Taos is one of those self-sufficient kind of towns. So many people do a lot of their own projects. Helping those people is real important to us,” said Ervin, who along with her husband built their own home.
That the Randall’s would identify so closely with Taos residents, willing to do for themselves, is no surprise given the family’s history. The Randall family first arrived in the area when New Mexico was still a territory. Lured by adventure and tales of gold mining in Twining Canyon. The Randall family left Maine, heading west for New Mexico at the turn of the century. Elisha Randall was still a boy, according to Paula’s father, Charles Randall, one of Elisha’s three sons.
The gold mining did not pan out, but there were other business opportunities available to a young man willing to work hard and to establish himself in a new community.
“Elisha has a saw mill and he decided he wanted an outlet here in town, so he purchased property and started bringing lumber in and selling it,” Charles Randall said. “Eventually he started adding hardware.
The young company also established a motto- “Everything to Build Anything”. As the young business grew, Elisha Randall lived up to his motto, adding new dependable product lines to his inventory, such as Valspar Paint in the 1920’s and Amarillo Hardware in the 1940’s. Both firms still supply Randall’s with quality products.
At the same time the Randall family grew, Elisha Randall married a young woman named Erna, who, over her long life, became known to everyone as “Grandma Randall”. The young couple worked hard, growing a business and raising three sons, John, Merlin and Charles and a daughter, Minnie Lou.
Despite long hours in the lumber yard and in her garden, Grandma Randall, a woman described as warm and inviting by her children, opened her arms to the community.
When the couple’s sons returned from college, they went to work in the company. Other family members contributed as well. In fact, Grandma Randall could be counted on to assist customers up until the end of her 96 year life.
“My grandmother was a fixture here until the year (1999) she passed away,” Ervin said. “She would at least be able to help people find things so they wouldn’t be standing there, feeling they weren’t being paid attention to.”
Ervin also put in long hours with the rest of the family.
“I worked in the business basically all my life. When I came back from college, I came back to work in the business,” Ervin said. “It was always my dream to continue the business. I was fortunate that my brother (David Randall) and my brother-in-law (Britt Bland) were willing to share that with me.”
The partners purchased the company from Elisha Randall’s sons then divided responsibilities based on each individual’s area of expertise. When the third generation took over, they were assisted by a thoroughly seasoned and professional staff of 26 employees. This includes Dorothy Randall (Paula and David’s mother), who has been the bookkeeper for Randall’s for 37 years.
“The average length of service for our employees is 25 years, “ Ervin said. “We all feel like family. We have a real good group.”
The company, which prides itself on “Building Taos Since 1921,” has a full line of products available to help their friends and neighbors build homes to last, whether those homes are constructed of adobe, pumice, frame or newer alternative materials. Out in the yard, customers will find lumber, block, roofing materials, insulation and forms just to name a few of these items. The company keeps a watchful eye on developing trends in the construction industry.
“We’re always trying to find new products to help people build more efficiently and have a more efficient home,” Ervin said “It’s good to see different alternatives being tried and perfected”
Randall’s customers are encouraged to share new ideas and information about products coming on the market.
“We recently picked up a new insulation that is designed for radiant heat flooring.” Ervin said. “It keeps the heat going up into the floor.”
Inside, the company has a complete line of hardware, as well as Skil and Makita power tools on hand. Randall’s stocks Valspar Paint and Minwax Stains. Gardening items, including a very efficient drip irrigation system, are available.
Randall’s can special order any building materials or hardware needed for a project. Deliveries and estimates are free. Individuals who would like assistance in building can get names and information from the staff.
“We have a good network. We know all of the builders in town and direct people to the builder who is good at all type of building they want to do,” Ervin said.
Randall Lumber and Hardware’s future goals include continuing to grow with Taos and providing new building material technologies as they become available. Even more important is
the company’s steadfast desire to remain loyal to Taos.
“We’re very rooted in the community. We care a lot about the community and our customers.” Ervin said.
Reprint from The Taos News by Sara Ford publish April 26th, 2001.
All photos taken in Maranda Canyon in 1920.