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Building supply stores merge

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Brands Inc., a Columbus building supplier for nearly half a century, will merge with a Bloomington lumber company April 1 as owners John and Jesse Brand retire.

The Brand family-owned business, operating since 1967, will become a part of Bender Lumber, another family lumber company, according to an announcement from both companies.

Beginning next month, the new name of the Columbus store will be Bender/Brands Building Materials.

Brands employees have been asked to stay in their roles, Jesse Brand said, adding that retaining jobs for the business’s 19 employees was the most important issue in the merger.

“We wanted to do this in a way that our company family would be impacted as little as possible,” he said.

Jesse Brand has served as president and chairman, with John Brand as vice president and Ryan Brand, John’s son, as vice president.

The Bender company will assume management at Brands, said John Bender, owner of Bender Lumber. The new manager in Columbus will be Josh Chandler, who now runs Bender Lumber in Seymour.

The Columbus store will be the ninth Bender building supply location in Indiana. The others are in Bloomington, Bedford, Martinsville, Washington, Seymour, Linton, Paoli and Madison.

“We’ve just been longtime friends,” Bender said of his relationship to John and Jesse Brand, making it a natural decision to merge.

The Bender Lumber Co. was founded 83 years ago, and John Bender’s father, Harold, was an employee of the original company.

In 1962, his father bought the business, and it has been handed down in the family to John Bender, his brother, Paul Bender; and sons Mark and Scott Bender.

The Bender company has 150 employees and is one of the largest independent building material suppliers in Indiana, John Bender said.

Both companies have belonged to the Do It Best cooperative, which allows independents to buy inventory as a group to remain competitive.

The two companies also have the same computer system, which will make the transition even more seamless, Jesse Brand said.

Products that Columbus customers rely on will continue to be stocked, Jesse Brand said.

Although April 1 marks a retirement date for the Brand brothers, Jesse Brand said the two have other family-owned business assets and holdings that they will attend to.

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