Ward Lumber added to state historic business registry

MALONE — Ward Lumber has been added to the New York State Historic Business Preservation Registry.

State Sen. Daniel G. Stec, R-Queensbury, nominated the worker-owned cooperative — 3240 Route 11 in Malone and 697 Glen Road in Jay — for the registry last year.

“For over 130 years, the company has been an important part of our region,” Stec said in a statement Thursday. “From its quality products and being a source of good-paying jobs, to its efforts in improving the quality of life through its many partnerships with local schools and the communities at large, Ward Lumber is a business we can be proud of.”

In 1890, Harvey M. Ward first launched Ward Lumber in the AuSable Valley of the Adirondack Mountains, according to Ward Lumber’s website.

The forest product business then grew into a family-owned industry when Ward’s sons, Amos, Ralph, Harry, Sidney Sr. and Harvey, eventually ran the business as the “Ward Brothers.”

Sidney J. Ward Sr., who became the owner of the business in 1944, had purchased more than 5,000 acres of timberland, still owned and managed by the Ward Pine Mill, according to the Ward website.

After Sidney Sr.’s passing, his son Sidney Jr., a third-generation owner, continued to grow the business. Sidney Jr.’s sons — Sidney III “Jay” is president and Jeffrey is senior vice president of manufacturing — are now fourth-generation owners of Ward Lumber.

Agnes Ward, Sidney Sr.’s wife, and Janet Ward, Sidney Jr.’s wife, both played integral roles at Ward. Agnes died in 2015. She had been recognized for more than 70 years of service to the business.

Jay Ward wrote on the Ward website: “Ward Lumber was founded on values of hard work, service and quality. We owe much of our success to the generations of hard-working, dedicated men and women who have worked at Ward Lumber, and to the support and patronage of the people who live in the communities we serve.”

In 2015, the business celebrated its 125th anniversary.

In June of last year, the company transitioned into a worker-owned cooperative, with an employee board of seven people.

The transition from a family-line succession to a worker-owned cooperative was seen as a way to preserve up to 50 jobs between the Malone and Jay locations.

“It was a privilege to nominate Ward Lumber for the Historic Business Preservation Registry and I’d like to congratulate it on being one of the first businesses selected,” Stec said.

The state Historic Business Preservation Registry was established in 2020 and is administered by the Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. To be added to the registry, businesses must be in operation for at least 50 years and have contributed to their local community’s history.

Nominations must be sponsored by an elected state official.

Other Northern New York businesses added to the registry include Agri-Mark in Chateaugay, nominated by Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake; Alcoa in Massena, nominated by Assemblyman Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, and Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome; Phillips Diner in Ogdensburg and the Crystal Restaurant in Watertown, both nominated by Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton.


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