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Fourth generation West Baltimore millwork business to double in size with acquisition

A 95-year-old, fourth-generation millwork business in West Baltimore is combining with an 85-year-old, third-generation millwork business in Landover to form one of the largest, and possibly oldest, manufacturers of its kind in the Baltimore region.

Zeskind’s Hardware & Millwork, which has grown from a corner hardware store on South Payson Street into a custom door and window maker with three locations, is acquiring Landover-based Lamar & Wallace Inc. Lamar started in 1935 in Washington.

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Rick Miller, the fourth-generation owner of Zeskind's Hardware and Millwork, a family-owned business in West Baltimore is acquiring Landover-based Lamar and Wallace, Inc., a three-generations family-owned millwork business. The combined business will be one of the largest independent millwork operations of its kind in the Baltimore Washington region.
Rick Miller, the fourth-generation owner of Zeskind's Hardware and Millwork, a family-owned business in West Baltimore is acquiring Landover-based Lamar and Wallace, Inc., a three-generations family-owned millwork business. The combined business will be one of the largest independent millwork operations of its kind in the Baltimore Washington region. (Kenneth K. Lam)

“This is two legacy businesses coming together, with almost 200 years of experience,” said Rick Miller Jr., Zeskind’s president and owner.

Zeskind’s will continue to lease Lamar’s 75,000-square-foot warehouse on Old Landover Road, which will become Zeskind’s fourth location. The acquisition will more than double Zeskind’s annual revenue, double its workforce and quadruple its warehouse space. Zeskind’s has 24 employees and expects to hire most of Lamar’s 22 workers.

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Miller declined to disclose the sale price or company revenues.

Industries that depend on home remodeling have seen a huge increase in sales during the coronavirus pandemic as more people have stayed home and focused on fixing them up, Miller said. But at the same time, the health crisis has caused backlogs in the availability of supplies and delays in building permits.

“We want to position ourselves for when things do ramp up,” he said. “I think we’re going to see another bump because of pent-up projects."

The original Zeskind's Hardware store has been owned by the same family since 1925.
The original Zeskind's Hardware store has been owned by the same family since 1925. (Kenneth K. Lam)

The business started in 1925 when Miller’s great-grandfather, Sam Zeskind, purchased an existing hardware store on South Payson Street. The store is still there, run by Miller’s father and mother, Rick Miller Sr. and Debi Miller. It caters to customers in Carrollton Ridge and surrounding neighborhoods who need products for the older rowhouses or repairs on windows and glass.

Miller, 41, who worked at the hardware store as a teenager and for millwork companies after college, including Lamar, returned to Zeskind’s in 2008, when it had just three employees. He began expanding operations.

“I decided I wanted to not see my family’s business go by the wayside and decided to come in full time and grow the wholesale and manufacturing divisions,” Miller said.

The company bought an 8,000-square-foot building across the street from the hardware store. Zeskind’s started a wholesale business that purchases windows and doors from manufacturers such as Lamar and distributes products to homebuilders and remodelers.

The company got into manufacturing those products in-house four years ago. It built an additional, 10,000-square-foot warehouse on an empty parking lot next to its existing warehouse.

It now makes windows, exterior and interior doors, cabinetry and stair systems. In addition, a custom shop makes doors and windows for properties with historic designations, such as homes renovated with historic preservation tax credits in Federal Hill, Canton, Bolton Hill and Mount Vernon.

In July 2019, Zeskind’s opened a window, door and millwork showroom for contractors and their clients in Arnold, in Anne Arundel County.

Since 2008, sales have grown five-fold, Miller said, and the manufacturing and wholesale businesses now account for most of the company’s revenue, while the hardware store accounts for about 10 percent of sales.

Miller, who became sole owner of the company last year, said the larger Lamar is a good fit because it has a nearly identical business but covers a different geographic area.

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Lamar was started in 1935 by William Russell Lamar, the grandfather of current president Rusty Lamar. Lamar said he took over from his father, who had worked for and run the company for 44 years. Now he, too, has put in 44 years and wants to retire.

“It’s the only job I’ve had right out of college,” Lamar said.

He said he felt comfortable selling to Miller, who had worked for him, because “he tailored his company similarly to ourselves. He knows our company. He knows a lot of our employees, I wanted to make sure there was going to be a job for a lot of our employees.”

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