A nice sized crowd gathered on Thursday morning at Soo Mill Buildall Centre on Great Northern Rd in Sault STe. Marie, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the family owned business. The company was founded in 1915 by Fremlin Hollingsworth and is currently in its third generation of family ownership. “In the early 1900’s, Fremlin attended Business College in Sault Michigan” shared Lynn Hollingsworth, President of Soo Mill. “In January 2015, Fremlin opened Corrigan Lumber and Mill.”
Soo Mill’s first retail outlet started on North Street a century ago. Soo Mill & Lumber began operating on Great Northern Road in 1986. The Elliot Lake store opened in 1974.
Scott MacGillivary, Pipe Sergeant with Soo Pipes & Drums, opened the celebrations with the beautiful song, ‘Maple Leaf forever’. (composed by Alexander Muir in 1867,to commemorate Canada’s Confederation)
Ian Hollingsworth, brother to Lynn(Senior) and Simpson Hollingsworth, (who have both deceased), represented the 2nd generation of Hollingsworth family, and was part of the anniversary celebrations at the Great Northern Rd. location.
Ann Melville (Hollingsworth), Controller for Soo Mill expressed gratitude on behalf of the company, for the continued community support that has helped to establish Soo Mill Buildall as a successful northern, family owned business. To that end, Ann Melville announced a new Community Initiative that Soo Mill is undertaking. “$100,000 has been set aside for individuals and community groups, who work to improve the quality of life for others within our community.” Ann went on to explain that the funds are “shared through an application process, whereby a panel of judges will make decisions, based on merit, about funding the application.” adding “Individuals and groups can apply for monies ranging from $1,000 – $5,000 until June 30th,2015.”
Back to Basics after-school programme for children at the St. John’s Anglican Church site, has been named as the first recipient for a portion of the available $100,000. The funds are earmarked for individuals and community groups from the Sault and area, as well as Elliot Lake, Ontario.
Sandra Rhodes, Buyer with Soo Mill announced another tremendous community support project. “Charity Barbeques will run each Saturday. 100% of the monies raised at the BBQ’s will be for the community group operating the BBQ on each given Saturday. We (Soo Mill) have taken on the responsibility of purchasing all of the food from the hot dogs and hamburgers to the condiments and buns. Further, we have all the necessary permits in place so that a community group can come with a team of volunteers and operate the BBQ site.” The list of community groups is available on the website, and through weekly flyers. “I was amazed by the response to our initiative. We saw this happening in southern ontario, and thought that we here, at Soo Mill, could develop this for our community as well. It really is a good way to give back to community, and honour the legacy that we have for supporting community groups over the years.” Further to the BBQ initiative, in-store rotating specials found in the flyer and website each week will also help to share funds with the community group operating the BBQ on any given Saturday. “On Wednesday, I posted the BBQ link for community groups to Soo Mill’s Facebook page” shared Sandra Rhodes. “On Thursday the information was in the flyer, and by Friday we had completely booked all of the Saturdays.”
“Investing in community, where you exemplify your values of integrity and commitment, is what this business was built on.” said Susan Myers, City Councillor. Susan presented Soo Mill’s Lynn Hollingsworth with a commemorative placque from The City of Sault. Marie to mark the occasion.
The Fremlin family, represented by Vic and Rod Fremlin presented the Hollingsworth family with a gift, which spoke to the “history of the two families working and recreating together.” as shared by Vic Fremlin.
A series of short anniversary year videos is being produced to tell the company’s story, one of which was showcased at the Anniversary Celebration event. Written and created by Algoma University Honours History graduate Kathryn Oliana, the videos are being posted as completed at www.soomill.com. Applications for the funds available to community can also be found on the website, with a deadline of June 30th.
100 years in business is a major milestone. Soo Mill Buildall Centres, where ‘build-all’ really does mean more than structures. Congratulations on your continued success as an integral part of Sault, Elliot Lake and points in-between, as you move forward to another 100 years in business.