The Laird Norton Legacy
December 31, 2021
In 1855, Laird Norton Company (LNC) was founded as a lumber company and sawmill in Winona, Minnesota, by two brothers, James Laird Norton and Matthew George Norton, and their cousin, William Harris Laird. In 1900, as westward expansion changed the locus of economic opportunity, the company invested in nearly 1 million acres of Pacific Northwestern timberlands in partnership with the Weyerhaeuser Family. LNC was instrumental in founding major lumber companies in the western states.
In 1905, the sawmill in Winona sawed its last log, and the shift to the Pacific Northwest was complete when, in 1955, LNC moved its headquarters to Seattle, Washington. At this time, the Laird Norton family decided to start operating businesses again and formed the United Building Centers in 1962. The following year, Weyerhaeuser went public, and shortly thereafter, the Laird Norton Trust Company was formed to serve Laird Norton Family members.
During the 1970s, LNC merged its two home improvement retail companies—United Building Centers and Spenard Builders Supply—to form Lanoga Corporation. Lanoga grew through acquisition to become one of the largest retailers of lumber and building materials in the United States. In 2006, Lanoga, the family’s last remaining tie to their timber roots, was sold to Fidelity Capital.
Today, LNC invests in and owns private companies and real estate. In addition, the family operates two foundations: the Laird Norton Family Foundation and the Winona Foundation. The family also remains unified, even as members have spread to different parts of the world. By 1975, the annual family meetings were opened to all members, including children, and family programs were expanded to include younger generations. The annual Laird Norton Family Summit remains part of a robust strategy to engage and educate family owners. Today, more than 500 living family members in generations four through eight carry on the Laird Norton Family legacy through their ownership of LNC and its holdings.