Our Family Business History
The earliest days of our Godwin family in eastern North Carolina began around 1906 or so, when Eddie Walter Godwin traveled down from Delaware on the train, bringing his bicycle. He would stop off at various train stops and he would ride the countryside looking for timberland. Finding a great amount of suitable land, he brought his family to settle this area. They first settled in Duplin County, near Ryan’s Crossroads (now Penderlea area) and set up their first sawmill. The family later moved to Point Caswell and used Lanes Ferry to raft logs down the Cape Fear River to Wilmington. It was only a matter of time before the Godwins moved closer to Wilmington to grow their logging and sawmill lumber business. By 1909, E. W. Godwin & Sons lumber business was actively providing building materials to the local Wilmington and Cape Fear market.
E. W. Godwin’s 3 sons actively shared responsibility in the family business as the second generation. William (Uncle Bill) did the timber cruising. Uncle Earl oversaw the ground mills on various timberland projects. Grandfather Edward managed the office and paid the bills.
In the early 1930’s and 40’s the family also had a bottling company and beer distributorship near the land that is the today’s lumber yard on Castle Hayne Road. Edward’s sons held their first jobs in high school as drink truck delivery drivers. One of the routes included the developing Army base Camp Davis in Holly Ridge, NC. In fact, when Camp Davis was constructed during WWII for troops, E.W.Godwin’s Sons lumber company shipped “day& night”, “all the lumber we could produce”, to help build that base.
The original wooden office building burned in 1951 and was soon replaced with a durable brick building. The temporary office was established next door in the home of one of the Godwin sons, Julian.
As business grew, so did our line of products. We were one of the first to carry “original sheetrock” gypsum board in this area. In fact, since we were one of the first lumber suppliers in Wilmington, our lumber is a part of many historical buildings & local bridges, even a shrimp boat or two!
In the 1950’s Edward’s sons, Julian, James, and Ebe were the third generation to take an active company role. They were learning about judging timber quality, buying and selling in an international market, and finding more quality products to sell to their customer base. Delivery trucks were added and sales expanded to more of eastern NC; from Shallotte to New Bern. Since the business property adjoined Smith Creek to the Cape Fear River, even shipping materials by water was possible.
By 1959, Godwin’s had their own sawmill, dry kiln, and stacker machinery. A railroad track traveled right to our mill yard and was instrumental in shipping and receiving materials as the company grew. Almost daily shipments of roofing, cement, brick, gypsum board, and raw lumber arrived at our company site.
Another fire in 1969, this time in the planer mill of the mill yard, set the company’s production back for a few months. But each time this family business rebounded.
Today, there are 16 family shareholders, including 5 family board members from the fourth generation of Godwins. We currently have 3 active family personnel working for E.W. Godwins’ Sons, Inc.; one of those is a fifth generation member. The company has about 48 employees covering inside and outside sales, loading and delivery, purchasing, accounting and management. This hard working group of employees truly is the key to enduring success. Although the products and customers have changed and grown over the past 100 years, the quality of materials sold and our dedication to good service remains constant.
Some of our ongoing customer relationships include the movie studio in Wilmington, homeowners on Bald Head Island, many local general contractors of all sizes, UNCW, and Sunny Point. We also sell directly to the public during regular business hours as always.
Come see us for your building needs. We will take care of you.