From Railway Ties to Designer Kitchens: The Friel Legacy Continues

By Deb Mowbray

Whether native or transplanted, eastern shore residents are fiercely loyal about shopping local. When it comes to building supplies, this is no sacrifice with Friel Lumber Company, one of the east coast’s premier custom building supply centers, located in our back yard.

Friel Lumber was established by Mr. S.E.W. Friel in 1903. The company operated a number of saw mills in the area, manufacturing construction lumber, railroad ties, and veneer products. During the rapid railroad expansion in the 1920s, they shipped railroad ties by the carload throughout the east coast. In the mid 1930s, Friel Lumber discontinued its manufacturing plants and became strictly a retail building material supplier.

In 1988, Friel opened the largest and most complete Kitchen and Bath Showroom in the area. A new 10,000 sq. ft. hardware store was added in 1996, and in 1999, a 12,000 sq. ft. drive-through warehouse was completed- the first of its kind in Queen Anne’s County. In 2003, Friel added another 16,000 sq. ft. warehouse as well as two 150′ covered lumber sheds to protect lumber from the elements. This growth continues with the recent addition of their new Kitchen and Bath Showroom in Chester and a completely remodeled hardware, paint and millwork showroom at their Queenstown location.

To this day, Friel Lumber remains a family owned company. James R. Friel Jr. is joined in the business each day by his sons James R. Friel III and Robert Friel. Since 1903, Friel’s mission has been to provide quality materials with exceptional customer service at a fair price. Their offerings rival even the largest of industry chain stores, with one important additional component: exemplary service. The expert sales staff has an average of 15 years’ experience in the building materials industry.

“These fellows are as honest and hardworking as you will find,” says General Manager Wayne Gardner proudly. People come here after they have been to big box stores and find prices as good and service that’s better,” he adds. Gardner has been with Friel for 25 years and Store Manager Rich Stout for 23 years. “We will do everything in our power to assure total customer satisfaction. We know our goals have been met when you send a friend or family member to us after telling them how happy you are with your completed project,” they stress on their website.

Friel’s product line spans the building supply gamut from a complete paint department and lumber to custom doors and windows. Extensive services include professional kitchen and bath consultation with expert designers, paint color matching, glass and key cutting, engineered wood framing layouts, blueprint services and tool repairs. Friel also offers free estimates and job site delivery. In their impressive showrooms, customers can view samples from 5 major wood cabinetry brands, stone, quartz and laminate countertops, and cabinet hardware by Top Knobs.

As an independent retailer, Friel is not without the credentials of an established affiliation. The company is part of the Lumbermen’s Merchandising Corporation (LMC), the largest forest products and building materials buying group in the USA with over 1200 member locations across 48 states and the Bahamas. Members of LMC are recognized as Building On Service Dealers, an exclusive network of independent lumberyard companies who own LMC and represent 13 billion dollars in sales annually. This affiliation positions Friel among the most competitive, progressive, and outstanding “independent” companies in the industry.

To view the latest in kitchen and bath design, stop by Friel’s new showroom located at 100 Olde Point Village, suite 102 in Chester. Hours of operation are Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Sat 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and by appointment. Quality building materials are on display at their Queenstown location at 100 Friel Place off Route 301, open Mon-Fri from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sat 7:00 a.m. to noon. Online shopping is a breeze at their e-showroom where customers can go to search products by category or project type, ask questions, and even receive a quote virtually. For more information call 410-827-8811 or visit online: and