From its beginnings delivering coal, ice and firewood by horse cart, the firm branched into freight hauling, road grading, soft drink manufacturing, beer distribution, concrete mixing and homebuilding.
Today, Dennis Company is a well-regarded local retailer with five stores along the Highway 101 corridor — in Aberdeen, Elma, Long Beach, Montesano and Raymond. It is a chain suited to the needs of the smaller communities it serves, selling seemingly everything but groceries — from clothing to sporting goods, hardware, animal feed and farm equipment.
“We just continue to change and evolve and try to get growth where we can,” says Randy Dennis, who runs the company with his brother, Brent. The firm is affiliated with the Ace Hardware chain but operates under its own flag, has weathered the economic ups and downs of the coastal timber country and the competition of big-box stores.
Randy Dennis attributes its longevity to the strength of customer service. “We don’t just take them to the aisle and point,” he says. But like many an owner of a family business, Dennis wonders sometimes about the next generation that will carry on the line. He and his brother each have two children, leading lives in Seattle and Portland. At this point, he says it’s too soon to know. “I hope someday one of our kids comes back and takes over the business, but I don’t have a yes or no about whether that is going to happen.”