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Owens Supply celebrates 60 years
Marcia McCoy
Marcia McCoy tells the history of Owens Supply during the company’s 60th anniversary celebration on Saturday in Pembroke. Photo by Lindsay Miller.

By Alex Floyd, Special to the News

The year was 1956. War hero Dwight Eisenhower was in a race for the Presidency. Elvis Presley released his second album and 27 year old Harry Owens joined Shuman Supply Company. He was given a truck, a notebook and price sheet. He put some quarters in his pocket so he could call the orders back to Pembroke and a legend was born. On April 1, 1963, Harry purchased 25% of the company.

Sixty years later, the next three generations of leadership gathered with a crowd of employees, customers and well wishers to celebrate Owens Supply Company.

But according to the family it wasn’t always big tents and ice-cold coca colas. The “old store” (today Global Commodities) was a huge brick warehouse on a railroad spur. Railcars of lumber and sheetrock were unloaded with handcarts come hot sun or cold rain. One of those carts remains in the back of the current store to remind us all to be thankful for forklifts. Mr. Harry and his brother Herbert Owens joined forces in Columbia and Ridgeland, SC. The Columbia business sold to a Pembroke man and longtime manager Thomas Bacon and Ridgeland sold to their younger brother Richard Owens. Meanwhile, Pembroke continued to flourish as headquarters even as Mrs. Marcia dreamed of an office with indoor plumbing.

That dream came true in 1994 and the current Owens Supply building has been welcoming travelers on Hwy 280 into Pembroke ever since. That year Mr. Harry retired and the reins passed fully to the next generation. Mrs. Marcia Mc-Coy joined the company as a bookkeeper after graduating high school in 1976. Bookkeeping has come a long way (she told the crowd about driving to Memphis for three days to learn their first computer) but she retains the solid business principles and “to the penny” skill today (and the same office chair).

That same year Mrs. Marcia married Mr. Terry McCoy who had started in the warehouse and driving a delivery truck. He told me many times he went to school “on a broom handle” and learned the business the hard way and from the ground up. Even as he and Mrs. Marcia and her sister Ms. Debbie took over the company, he could still be found behind a broom handle or behind the wheel of a truck.

His sister Annette McCoy Bacon ran the warehouse as supervisor and the two of them remained an unstoppable force for many years. When Annette (affectionately known as Aunt Chill) wasn’t driving a forklift, she kept a house filled with McCoy and Bacon children. Anyone who has seen the kids walking single file behind her in the grocery store knows she ran the house like the warehouse.

Two pastors were keynote speakers at the event. Mr. Jesse retired from the military and joined the force even though he told Mr. Terry “if I can’t fly it or shoot it, I really don’t know what to do with it”. But he figured it out and continues to keep it running with military efficiency. France gives credit to the Owens-McCoy family for his strong relationship with God and his calling to the ministry. Brother Lelon Jeffers and his wife Sister Teal have ministered to the family at East Main Street Church of God in Statesboro and are close friends and spiritual advisors.

Typically at celebratory events like these we tend to gloss over the hard times, but Owens is not a typical company and the financial crisis of 2008 was not a typical time. The family’s businesses in Savannah, Ridgeland and Summerville, SC closed and the company “hunkered down in Pembroke”.

Hard decisions were made and the crisis that took down so many couldn’t take down Owens Supply.

Times got better across the country and the Owens family rebounded like never before. Daughters Tiffany and Hannah added cabinets and bath fixtures to the line. In 2014, son Jordan sold a set of unfinished cabinets and Storehouse Salvage was born. By 2016, Storehouse had moved from Owens to a warehouse in J Dixie Harn Industrial Park and in 2018 the flagship opened in the former ALCO building west of town. One only needs to see the line of trailers and range of counties on the truck tags on a Saturday morning to see the success of Storehouse.

Tragically, Terry McCoy, more than a boss to so many, passed suddenly a few weeks after Storehouse opening its doors. His longstanding wish was to be cremated and his ashes put in capsules for the employees to carry in their pockets. That way he could kick them if they sat down. Needless to say that didn’t happen, but his spirit, wisdom and the memory of a great man of integrity rides not in pockets but in hearts throughout the company.

In the South, family responsibilities go beyond blood relations. The Owens- McCoy family takes their business seriously and their community more seriously. Mrs. Marcia says a solid business principle passed to her by her parents and on to her children is, “Customers are equally important no matter if they bought a 1 lb box of nails or a house package.” This love of community stems from rock-solid faith and giving credit to the One who makes all things possible. Jordan’s wife Sarah McCoy sang beautifully at the conclusion of the ceremony, “With every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God”.

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