Gill-Roy’s was founded in 1945 by Gilbert Morgan and Roy Trevarrow as a retail hardware store at 3215 Detroit Street in Flint, Michigan. We are a 75-year-old company that now operates 29 stores, 28 in Michigan and 1 in Georgia.
Gilbert Morgan and Roy Trevarrow were good friends and co-workers at AC Spark Plug, one of many factories in Flint Michigan that fueled the supply of war munitions for WWII in the early 40's. As the war came to an end, Gil and Roy devised and executed a plan for their own independent success.
Hundreds of new businesses were sprouting up all over the Flint area, and over 2,000 homes were under construction to welcome home our veterans from overseas. What better business to be in, they decided, than the hardware business?
After securing loans and scraping together enough capital to begin, Gil and Roy began construction on their dream, at 3215 Detroit Street. The neighborhoods of houses under construction just west of their location, and the dozens of new businesses being built along Detroit Street were nothing but encouragement for the two new entrepreneurs.
One day, Gill was standing on the sidewalk in front of his new building, still under construction. Another business, belonging to a Mr. Stebbins, was also under construction, right next door to Gil and Roy's building; at 3217 Detroit Street. The two buildings were actually inches from each other. Gil introduced himself, and asked Mr, Stebbins what business he was planning.
"A hardware store," was "Stebby's" reply. "What are you building?"
When Gil replied- "A hardware store," one of Flint's great business rivalries began.
From 1945 until "Stebby" finally sold out to Gil and Roy in the early 60's, folks from around the entire Genesee County area went to North Detroit Street for all their hardware needs. They all knew that if Gil and Roy didn't have it in stock, Stebby would. People could literally walk out of Gil and Roy's front door and take ten steps to the left and go into Stebbin's Hardware. Gill-Roy's quest to always be in stock and to have everything imaginable available for the homeowner began here.
Gil bought out Roy's share of the business in the mid 1960's, but he was not alone in running the business. His wife, Kate, was in charge of the cash. She ruled the checkout counter with an iron fist. Gil's sister, Thelma, took care of the books and the payroll. Thelma's husband, Gil's brother-in-Law, Johnny Muntin, ran the ordering and receiving in the back room. Back then, travelling salesmen would visit with their voluminous catalogs in tow, everything on paper, with pictures. Johnny had the amazing ability to remember numbers. Each item was designated with a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) number, six to nine digits long. While flipping through page after page of written order, Johnny would recognize a number he had seen several pages back, then go back and cross out the duplicate. If you ordered an item twice in the same order back then, they would ship it twice. Johnny rarely made that mistake.
Gil's brother, LaVerne, ran the plumbing department, one of the store's busiest sections. He could piece together any kind of adapter to satisfy a customer. The variety of fittings were quite limited back then, but LaVerne never lost a sale. He had a solid reputation of being an excellent plumber, even though some of the contraptions he would cobble together would give a real plumber nightmares.
Gil, of course, was the key player in the business. He was always at the front of the store, white sneakers, white shirt and tie, ready to greet every customer. He knew everyone in Flint, and always called folks by their first names as they entered his store. If you wanted a lawn mower or a tool, Gil would personally wait on you. If you needed plumbing, you went to see LaVerne. If you needed paint or a bolt, you went to see someone else.
Today, Gil's son, Robert L. Morgan (Bob), has grown the business to 29 stores, with the help of many long-term employees and his son, Robert C. Morgan (Rob), who is now the third generation owner and President of Gill-Roy's.