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May 4, 2014

Duncan Builders Supply marks 50 years

DUNCAN — Duncan Builders Supply, which started out with a grand total of 504 square feet of floor space in 1964, marked its 50th year in business on Saturday.

 Sitting on a bench watching the anniversary party at the business on North 7th Street was Robert Davenport, now 81, one of the three men who started the operation.

Over the years, the business was remodeled three times and eventually expanded to 20,000 square feet.

“When I look back I wonder how it really happened,” Davenport said with a smile. “Our original store is what is now the paint department.”

 Davenport, M.J. “Mutt” Lewis and the late Orville Duncan began the business. After Duncan retired, Davenport said he and Lewis  owned and operated with the business.

  Lewis, who had a thriving construction business, owned 70 percent, while Davenport said he held a 30 percent stake while serving as general manager of the business.

  It’s a high volume, low margin business, Davenport said.

   To thrive, Davenport said it took good employees and a willingness to learn and change with the times.

   “We had a lot of good employees,” he said. “A lot of them are still here. Good employees were the secret. Good employees are the secret to any retail business.”

    “We tried to treat everybody the same,” he added. “We didn’t have three or four different prices for different customers.”

    He also learned there were cycles in the business that seemed to occur every four years.

   “When we started out, Formica tops were the only thing you could use a counter top,” he said. “Now there are 40 different things you can use.”

   Duncan Builders Supply still operates three other building supply outlets it began long ago in Chickasha, Ardmore and Tishomingo.

   Though Davenport and Lewis sold the business in 2003, but the company is still a family affair.

  The new owner is Mike Lewis, whose wife Jackie was the 50-year anniversary party, along with Davenport’s daughter Bobbi Williams and granddaughter Amy Talley, who still are  employees of the friendly business at 116 N. 7th.

 

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