Founded in 1927, Hardware and Lumber Limited was started by the Henriques Brothers, headed by Emanuel Henriques, who operated Kingston Industrial Works (KIW) located at 1 Darling Street in Downtown Kingston. KIW specialized mainly in iron works, building manhole covers, frames, grates and, to a lesser extent, bridges. At that location they also operated a small hardware retail business. As the post-World War 1 building boom continued and the need for lumber hardware items increased locally, the Henriques Brothers decided to separate the iron mongering side of the business from the lumber and hardware division, therefore providing better quality service and a wider product range to two distinct niches.
The First Store
On December 9, 1927, Hardware and Lumber Limited began operations. Hardware and Lumber Limited opened its first retail store at 4 King Street, with Lionel deCordova as its first Manager. Among the items offered for sale at this location were: paints, oils, glassware, silverware, earthenware, pottery, leather goods, firearms, explosives, bicycles and bicycle parts, motor cars parts and accessories, electrical fittings and appliances. In the same month, H & L purchased warehousing and wharfing facilities at Marine Gardens on Harbour Street, beside the famous Myrtle Bank Hotel, at a cost of Twelve Thousand British Pound (£12,000.00), to carry on the business of wholesale and/or retail sales of lumber, steel, cement and ploughs. Their customers were mainly wharf owners, wharfingers, warehousemen, carriers, traders in ironmongery, and haberdashery owners from across the island who would come to their locations to conduct business.
H & L, Jamaica's foremost hardware and lumber merchants, started with a core offering of lumber in all grades and all sizes, as well as building materials to satisfy the needs of the construction industry. They were also the only supplier of Ransomes implements, satisfying the needs of the agricultural sector by selling primarily animal and tractor drawn ploughs, harrows and sub soilers, and providing the most complete plough service in heavy and light equipment offered in Jamaica. These products were all imported, initially sourced from England, Canada and the United States, and later on as the global marketplace became more accessible, from China, Japan, Honduras, Suriname and the African continent.
Hardware & Lumber is a merger of several companies which took place in 2004, consisting of Grace Kennedy's Rapid Sheffield and Agro Grace, and Pan Jam's H & L True Value, H & L Agro and Marine. Today Hardware & Lumber Ltd. is comprised of two separate divisions. Rapid True Value, the foremost local supplier of hardware and home improvement products, and H&L Agro, the most trusted local wholesaler and retailer of agricultural products.