David Anderson retired last Friday, after 39 years of service with E.C. Barton and Company. On March 5, 1964, Anderson began his career with Caraway Lumber Company, which later became Barton's of Caraway. In 1996, Anderson was transferred to Barton's of Lepanto, after the closing of the Caraway Store.
Barton's of Lepanto held a reception on Friday to honor Anderson and allow his customers to say their good-byes. "I love to be in mix with people. That is what I enjoy, being around people and being with the customers," said Anderson.
In the mid-1960s, Anderson was invited to the Barton's home office in Jonesboro, where he met Mr. Eugene C. Barton. "He said that when his dad was running [the company], he used to come from Jonesboro to Osceola in a team and wagon. He would bring a load of plain lumber to Barton's of Osceola and would pick up a load of logs and take them back. It would take him a day for each run. He would have to spend the night in Osceola," said Anderson.
"Talking with him made a big impression on me. It was a great honor to have met him," Anderson added. "He gave the employees total ownership of his company with his passing. And I have enjoyed working for him all these years," Anderson said.
Upon his retirement, Anderson intends to spend more time fishing. He will also be taking on a part-time job for a friend helping with a golf course south of Caraway and spend more time with his wife, son and two daughters. Anderson leads the singing at Buffalo Chapel Baptist Church.
"David Anderson is a very loyal and faithful employee and it has been my privilege to work with him for the past eight years. He's spent 39 years working for our company," said store manager David Montgomery. "As far as I know, he's been one of the most loyal and faithful employees we've ever had. He's dependable, just like a clock, and that's what makes a good employee to us. He's extremely honest and extremely dependable," added Montgomery.
Anderson will be back at Barton's of Lepanto for two weeks in March to take Montgomery's place while Montgomery takes his vacation.
"He's been good to work with. I'm going to miss the heck out of him," said Barton's bookkeeper Alphretta Brewster.
Barton's is a lumber retailer with 15 locations in Arkansas and 10 located in Missouri. According to E.C. Barton's website (www.ecbarton.com), "In November 1885 at age 27, P.C. Barton began what was intended to be a grocery business in Jonesboro, Arkansas. P.C.'s story is similar to that of the founder of Sears Roebuck and Company. Mr. Sears was a telegraph operator for the railroad. He bought a case of pocket watches that had been mis-shipped and sold them. That case of pocket watches was the beginning of Sears. P.C. Barton bought a load of lumber and stacked it behind his grocery store, intending to use it to build a home. His customers, seeing the stacked lumber, began to ask if he would sell it. He did, at first just a few boards at a time. Soon the lumber he had bought for his house was gone and he began handling lumber as a side line.
"Handling lumber began as a side line but proved to be more profitable and had a greater potential. He made the decision to sell the grocery side of his business. In 1902, the Company was incorporated under the name of Barton Lumber & Brick. For the next 25 years, stockholders were paid dividends amounting to more than 300%. By 1927, P.C. Barton had acquired all the stock in his Company. The next year, he would turn it over to his son, Eugene C. Barton.
"Gene Barton was 20 years old when his father called him home from college to help in the lumber business. It was there that he received his training and his father instilled in him his business philosophies. Gene learned his lessons well. He said, "I've spent my life insisting that my employees follow the same ruletreat your customer courteously, give him quality merchandise, and stand behind everything you sell. Buy quality, buy satisfaction' has always been our motto. It is better not to sell a customer at all than to sell him once."
"For the next 39 years Gene continued to operate from the familiar three story red brick building on the corner of Union and Huntington in downtown Jonesboro. Over the years, he bought additional lumber yards as opportunities presented themselves. Gene continued to work hard, adding stores and a wholesale outlet to the chain. Two years prior to his death, he was quoted as saying, "Nearly every dream I've ever had has been realized." On January 18, 1967, he died and passed on a legacy to the people in his business and his community.
"In 1975, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, that required no contributions to be made by employees, was adopted. Since its inception, the Company has been able to contribute from profits earned each year up to 15% of the employee payroll to this Plan, with the purpose being to acquire Company stock for the benefit of the employees. At this time, 100% of the ownership of the Company is in the hands of the employees. The greatest desire of Eugene Barton, that the Company should be perpetuated, has been fulfilled."