Just 30 years after Illinois became a state, Samuel Maze started his lumber company along the Illinois River. It eventually grew to include making the nation’s largest selection of Specialty Nails.
To this day, Maze’s company is still going strong. Maze Lumber is the state’s oldest lumberyard, Samuel’s great-great-grandson, Roelif Loveland, is president of Maze Nails, and Maze Company proudly celebrates its 175th anniversary this year.
“We have been blessed with many generations of great associates — both non-family and family employees,” Loveland said. “A huge part of longevity is having quality people … and the other part is having quality products that are continually demanded in the marketplace.
“As my brother, Jim, said on the anniversary of his 150-year-old home in Spring Valley, Illinois, we are all simply caretakers of old businesses and old houses. It is our job to nurture them and make certain that they survive for the next generation. I am very proud to be spending my years doing exactly that.”
He also said he is impressed by his ancestors’ ingenuity, which set up Maze Nails for longevity.
“It seems like entrepreneurship was the rule rather than the exception back in those days,” Loveland said. “Family owned and operated store fronts and small businesses sprang up everywhere. The Maze boys were pretty clever fellows and built a very strong business for future generations.”
Over the years, Loveland said there have been steady changes to the family business. For example, Loveland said nails were once made entirely of zinc purchased from Illinois Zinc and M & H Zinc, but in 1916 nails started to be made of steel and dipped in zinc.
That was done by hand at first, but in 1955, Loveland said brothers, James and Hamilton Maze, designed a dipping machine to do the work.
“The only thing that has stayed the same is that both types of nails were highly dependable and became demanded by contractors nationwide,” Loveland said.
And with 175 years in the rearview, Loveland said things will continue to evolve. “We continue to change with the times, including updating the products we handle at Maze Lumber and developing new nails that we manufacture and sell at the Maze Nail factory,” he said. “We’re now looking forward to our bicentennial year!” RB