By David MacDonald M y great-grandfather was the founder of the business. He was an Englishman who immigrated to Canada in the 19 th Century,” Chris explained. And like so many Europeans who eventually settled in Western Canada, Harry Galer spent time in Montreal before making the cross- continent trek to the Pacific Coast. “There’s actually a lot in our family history that’s quintes- sentially Canadian. On both the Davidson and Galer side of the family, we’re definitively waspy,” he laughed. “Family on both sides have a history of service in both world wars – and the business was kept running the entire time. Unfortu- nately, my great-uncle and my grandfather’s brother-in- law were actually killed in the Second World War.” If you are a Tri-City resident – which now includes the villages of Anmore and Belcarra and the cities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody – and a history buff, you may have noticed the bright red signage with white print above the entrance to POCO Building Supplies on Mary Hill Road gives an established date of 1921, which postdates the end of the First World War in 1918. “That’s really the origin of the company you see today.” “We trade on the 1921 date because that’s the date of our incorporation. My great-grandfather originally had small shop here in Port Coquitlam that opened in 1912 on what is today Kingway Avenue. He was one of only a few propri- etors in downtown Port Coquitlam who had a truck and he

would often drive into New Westminster for supplies – coal and bits of lumber for the shop. He quickly found himself taking orders for people. He realized that this was a lucra- tive business opportunity and he decided to close down the shoe shop and run coal and lumber full- time by 1919 from a new shop on Shaughnessy Street nearly opposite City Hall. That’s really the origin of the company you see today.” What you see today is impressive. POCO Building Supplies is a founding member of Timber Mart, a Western Can- ada-based GPO (group purchasing organization) which has become one of Canada’s largest buying groups for independent business owners. “We have upwards of 750 member stores across Canada and we’re between the third and fifth largest lumber-buying entity in Canada. We bring significant volume to the table. We’re able to use our buying group to our advantage and buy in bulk as an inde- pendent.” Timber Mart is the largest Canadian customer of Orgill, the world’s largest vendor of hardware products in the US with access to over 75,000 products and industry-leading retail services, according to “They [Orgill] just opened a distribution centre in Idaho actually and we use them on a weekly basis to resupply on the hardware side of things and then we use a whole network of vendors through the Timber Mart distribution chain to bring in everything else.”

But when Chris and Jeff took the reins in 2008, the path was a bit bumpy.

“We wondered what we’d gotten ourselves into,” Chris



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