Back in 1952, Anchorage was a very different place than it is today. The population had just passed 30,000 and the intersection of Tudor Road (or 44th Avenue as it was called then) and Minnesota Road was a dirt crossroads in the semi-wilderness of Spenard. The Alaska Railroad tracks ran nearby, however, the lifeline for most of the freight coming into Southcentral Alaska at that time.
George A Lagerquist and A.J. Johnson selected this site for the first Spenard Builders Supply, which opened with three employees and sold primarily lumber and plywood. In the 50’s and early 60’s Anchorage was experiencing one of its “boom” periods in both the public and private sectors. In particular, the military was expanding its presence in Southcentral, which had begun in earnest during the Second World War, and the population was growing rapidly. In fact, the population would more than triple, to over 90,000 people by 1962!
In 1964, the Good Friday Earthquake, one of the largest recorded quakes in history, did extensive damage to SBS facilities and much of the rest of Southcentral Alaska. The store opened for business the next day, and helped Alaskans rebuild their homes and lives. Only three years later, disaster struck again as fire destroyed the entire SBS facility, including warehouses, offices and inventory. Once again SBS managed to open for business the next day in two small salvaged cabins.
The 70’s saw not only the expansion of the Alaskan economy, but of Spenard Builders Supply as well. The building of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in the mid-70’s brought a flurry of activity and another population boom as Anchorage and the rest of the state grew by more than 40% during the decade. Pipeline contractors, businesses involved with producing oil on the North Slope and those providing material and services all across the state all fueled the economy.
Late in the 70’s and early 80’s Spenard Builders Supply grew with the rest of Alaska’s economy. Lagerquist’s two other Alaska yards, one in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks, became branches of SBS, and several Superior Building Supply yards were acquired from Palmer G. Lewis Co.. New SBS yards were built in Eagle River and Sitka as the economy topped out again in the mid-80’s, and was followed by a recession of unprecedented proportions. The middle years of the 80’s were tough for Alaska, as oil prices fell, construction ground to a halt, banks failed and thousands of homes were left empty as their owners left the state. The population of Anchorage dropped from a high of 248,000 in 1985 to a low point of 219,000 in 1988 before beginning to recover.
The 90’s saw slow and steady growth as the Alaskan economy diversified. Retail, tourism, mining and fishing have all played a part in this stabilization. SBS expanded in the 90’s to Barrow, on the Arctic Ocean and Seward, on the Kenai Peninsula, and we now have 13 yards as well as three distribution centers, two in Anchorage and one in Tacoma, Washington.
Spenard Builders Supply continues to play a role in building Alaska, from remote cabins to big-city high rises, schools to apartment buildings and everything in between. We can design your kitchen, deck or truss roof, build custom windows or countertops, and deliver to your job site, no matter where, and all with the best brand name products in the business. Our strength is our relationships with our customers, and our willingness to “go the extra mile” to get your job done.