Okla. chain buys locally based Lord & Evans Paints

Wray

For nearly 150 years, Lord & Evans Paints and its predecessor provided colorful coatings to Lowcountry homes and businesses.

It still will, but under a new name.

The paint store, a part of the Lowcountry since 1865, is now in the fold of an Oklahoma firm.

Spectrum Paint recently purchased the three stores in Charleston, bringing to 33 the number of shops in the Tulsa-based company. Terms were not disclosed.

“We are pleased that the stewardship of this wonderful business is now passed to only the fourth family owners over the past 147 years,” said Steve Wray, who was Lord & Evans’ president before the sale.

Lord & Evans was founded as Wm. M. Bird & Co. in 1865. Bird, a blockade runner during the Civil War, was imprisoned by Union troops in Boston. He returned to Charleston after the war to find it in ruins and started the company. He continued to operate it until his death in 1918, when a caretaker briefly took over before it was sold to the Hagood family, according to Wray.

The business continued as Wm. M. Bird, somewhat of a forerunner to the big-box home-improvement stores, until 1992, when the Hagoods decided to divest the paint, hardware and glass unit.

The spun-off business became Lord & Evans. Wm. M. Bird continues to operate in North Charleston and specialize in wholesale floor coverings throughout the Southeast,

Lord & Evans wasn’t looking to be bought, but it had a connection to Spectrum, which was in an aggressive acquisition mode, Wray said. In January, for example, Spectrum acquired the seven stores of Wilmington, N.C.-based C&S Paint Center in the coastal Carolinas.

Lord & Evans, as well as Spectrum and C&S, belonged to a large buying group called AllPro, a purchasing cooperative made up of independently owned paint and decorating products dealers.

“We all knew each other,” Wray said. “It was a perfect fit. They had the same customer base and an identical product mix. It could not have been a better situation.”

Travis Detter, president of Spectrum Paints, said nothing will change except the name on the three local stores in Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Summerville.

Spectrum Paints, which is owned by the Detter family, operates retail stores in states including Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina. It was founded in 1986.

All employees were retained except executive management, Wray said. Because of the recent acquisition of C&S, Spectrum already had a business management team in place for its Carolinas operations. That left Wray, his chief financial officer and office manager at Lord & Evans out of a job.

“We are riding off into the sunset and pursuing other things,” Wray said.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.