Seymore Bros. to close
A longtime family-owned business is closing its doors.
“We are retiring, and there is no third generation interested in keeping it going,” said Tim Seymore, 75, president of Seymore Bros Inc. Blocks & Stone. He and his brothers Greg, 71, and Jeff, 67, own the business that was founded by their father, Leo, and uncle, Ernest Seymore, in 1924.
Seymore Bros., located at 4221 Sixth Ave., has been a manufacturer, supplier and distributor of various types of concrete and stone blocks for both commercial and personal installation.
In addition to the block plant, Seymore Bros. had a stone quarry in Duncansville. That property is now used for storage.
The original family business was a lumber mill operated by Michael Seymore, Tim’s grandfather, on 18th Street.
In the early days, the blocks were made by hand.
“They had a machine that hand-tamped one block at a time. They were made by hand. There was no automation back then,” Seymore said. “Today, we can make a block in three seconds. We made 18,000 blocks a day in our heyday in the 1970s. Now, the whole plant is automated. It was all hand-labor when we took it over. Now it is all done by machinery.”
The business grew as Altoona grew.
“We had been growing in the 1960s and 1970s, and in the 1980s, it started to level off and started to go down. There was a lack of masonry labor that led us to making less blocks. There has been a resurgence of concrete work,” Seymore said.
During its heyday, Seymore Bros. employed about 24 workers on two shifts.
“At one point, we produced three million blocks a year for several years,” Seymore said.
The company’s product line grew over the years.
“We made 200 shapes and sizes of blocks and 50 colors and shapes of architectural split-faced and retaining wall blocks,” Seymore said.
The company completed an expansion project in 1992.
“We brought in some new equipment and added a new batching system to increase speed and efficiency,” Seymore said.
Commercial and residential contractors have been Seymore’s biggest customers, with commercial contractors making up about 70 percent of the business.
Leonard S. Fiore Inc. has been one of Seymore’s biggest customers over the years.
“Leonard S. Fiore Sr. and my father were good friends,” Seymore said.
Michael A. Fiore, president and CEO, said he was sad to see Seymore Bros. close.
“I think it is shame. Unfortunately for family businesses, we’ve lost Wolf Furniture and The Hite Co. (both were recently sold). Family-owned businesses are tough to carry on from the second to third generations.
“This is more about how the industry has changed. House foundations have gone to pre-cast or poured concrete, and on the commercial side, the use of block has declined over the past 20 years,” Fiore said. “They had been a leader in the industry in central Pennsylvania for 40 or 50 years.”
Seymore Bros. has purchased stone from Grannas Bros. Stone & Asphalt Co. for many years.
President and chairman of the board, Scott Grannas, is sad to see Seymore Bros. close.
“We built a new building about eight years ago and used split-faced block that they made from our stones and are part of the building,” Grannas said. “They have been a good customer for years. You always root for the local guys. It is sad to see them go.”
Seymore Bros. products are found all over the Altoona area.
“There are a lot of people with blocks in their homes that came from Seymore Bros. We were involved in churches, hospitals and schools. Many things built here, we were part of. All of our products were made by Altoona labor, our friends and neighbors,” Seymore said. “We’ve been a mainstay here for a long time. People are sad to see us go.”
Seymore said it was a difficult decision to close and try to sell the family business.
“I had a stroke four years ago. If my health were better, I would have stayed on,” Seymore said. “At one time, we would work 60 to 70 hours a week, six days a week. The last four-five years, we cut back to five days. We made a good living here by putting in the time and effort.”
Seymore said he hopes that people remember his business in a positive way.
“I hope we are remembered for selling a good product at a fair price. We were known for our service and taking care of issues,” Seymore said.
He hopes that he can find someone to take over the business, which includes the plant, the equipment and the 55-acre storage yard in Duncansville.
“It would be a great business for someone, but they have to come in with the idea they are going to work. We hope someone will take it over and keep it going,” Seymore said.
Seymore said he hopes to stay open until his inventory is sold, but that will depend on retaining temporary help.