Wooden you know it, Layton’s Lumber is still operating after 122 years

Posted on May 17, 2024 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments


Well-known in Syndey Mines, Nova Scotia, Layton’s Lumber has been operating for over a century. Starting as a lumber yard in the early 1900s, the company’s service offerings evolved over time while its commitment to employees and community has remained the same. Still in the family, the current owner focuses on maintaining the business built through generations.


A photo of Layton’s Lumber in the early days (photo credit: Layton’s Lumber)

Early days

The town of Sydney Mills, N.S. has a long history of coal mining and steel manufacturing. Many were attracted to the area at the beginning of the 20th century as the industry entered a time of prosperity, including Charles Layton. A carpenter by trade, Layton moved to Sydney Mills in search of opportunity and, given his background, founded Layton’s Lumber in 1902.

The business started as a lumber yard and soon also began window manufacturing. Carpentry services were added when Layton’s son Harold joined the family business, and by the ‘50s, Layton’s Lumber had expanded into a full building supply company.


A Layton’s Lumber delivery truck (photo credit: Layton’s Lumber)

Times of change

Current and fourth-generation owner Donald Layton grew up around the business, visiting his father when he was young and working there during summers and holidays in his teens. He says he always planned to work at the family business and joined full-time in 1979.

In the early ‘80s, Layton’s Lumber acquired a local business that made trusses to add to its service offerings. Not much more changed until 2013 with the construction of a new office building to expand its warehouse. Around that same time, the business updated its point of sale system, going fully computerized. This meant no more handwritten invoices or mental math to calculate prices!


Donald’s grandson (the sixth generation) visiting the family business (photo credit: Layton’s Lumber).

Personnel touch

With many people having worked at the company for 30 years or more, Layton says loyal employees and customers are its biggest assets. To better serve customers, Layton’s Lumber was the first local business to own a delivery truck in the early days and has maintained a welcoming environment. Many customers still choose to visit Layton’s in person to do business, or just to have a chat.

However, as long-term employees approach retirement, it has led to operational changes like the end of carpentry services. Layton says it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find staff when needed and is thankful he doesn’t have to engage in recruitment often.


A modern view of Layton’s Lumber’s offices (photo credit: Layton’s Lumber)

Still in the family

Today, operations continue at Layton’s Lumber, still in the business of retail building supplies and truss manufacturing. Co-owner of the family business with his father Charles (who recently retired from daily work in the office), Donald is proud to be working with his daughter Morgan, who represents the fifth generation.

When asked about the future of the business, Layton commented: “I don’t want to expand. I’m as big as I want to be. But the biggest win to me is when the next generation takes over. My father was pretty happy that I stayed with it and I’m happy that my daughter’s now involved.”

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