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Corum’s Building and Farm Center celebrates 50 years in business

Customer service, quality products, competitive prices keys to success

A huge sign that reads ‘Park Close-Quick Service’ has a lot to say about Corum’s Building and Farm Center, a prominent Hartselle business that celebrated its 50th anniversary May 10.

“The sign is an example of the creative approach our father, Jim Corum, took to putting the customer first on the list of things you need to do to be successful in business,” said owners Kevin and Reggie Corum. They assumed full ownership and management of the business when their father passed away nearly seven years ago.

“Daddy knew what it took to win over the customer and get him to come back,” Kevin pointed out. I suppose that is something he learned from working as a salesman before he got into this business.

“When we moved here, he studied the operations of our two competitors. Both have large parking lots and non-parking streets that run the length of the buildings. Customers have to walk a long distance to get in. That’s when the sign went up and we eliminated an access problem for our customers,” he added.

Interesting and unusual events linked to Corum’s 50-year history were shared with other family members, friends and customers at a commemorative dinner.

Personal friends and partners Bill Carroll and Jim Corum started their business with a crew of five, a truck and a forklift. Orders for building materials were taken on paper with pen, and loaded on the truck and delivered by the owners.

A spare room at the former Corral Restaurant was used as Carroll and Corum’s office and temporary location while construction was underway at the first permanent location a mile south on the same highway.

The business name changed to Corum’s Building and Farm Supply in 1996 when the store relocated to a new building and facilities on Highway 31 North. The Corum family became sole owners of the property when the late Carroll retired and he and his wife moved to Birmingham.

Both Kevin and Reggie Corum have played important roles in the growth and continued success of the business.

Kevin joined the staff full-time in 1981 after graduating from Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Reggie came on board six years later after working in California. He attended Calhoun Community College and Athens State and also earned a bachelor’s in business administration.

“I had to wait awhile for a job to open up,” Reggie said. “I found work in California when I was told there was no room for a third member of the Corum family.”

Both Kevin and Reggie love their jobs and look forward to many years of continued success under their management. However, the prospect for another family member to take over after they’re gone is rather slim.

Kevin and wife Sally, a retired teacher and financial analyst, have two adult children and one grandchild. Both children have careers outside of the business field.

Reggie and wife Robyn, a homemaker, have three adult children and two grandchildren. All of the children are pursuing careers of their own.

Let’s not forget our mom, Jan,” Reggie pointed out. “She’s the backbone of the family. She still cooks and prepares a Sunday dinner for us every two weeks and drops by twice a week to see how we’re doing.”

To the brothers, the backbone of their business is the loyal employees.

“Our employees are our strength,” Kevin said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have had solid employees all our years in business.”

From a builder’s perspective, Hartselle council president Kenny Thompson gives the Corum’s an A-plus rating for quality merchandise, customer service and competitive prices.

“I used materials from Corum’s in the first house I built in 1975,” Thompson recalled. My son Ashley still uses them and I would, too, if I was in need of something they had in stock. You can depend on them to stand behind the products they sell and they always make deliveries in a timely manner.”