Where hundreds of manufacturers are following but one avenue for the distribution of the product of their mills, the man who can open up and develop a practically new line and cater to it successfully is an individual to whom success is bound to come. The lumber industry in all its complexity affords such opportunities to men who are willing to find and take advantage of them. Lynch Davidson, of Houston, Texas, may be cited as an example of what a manufacturer and distributor of lumber may accomplish along special lines.
Lynch Davidson was born January 3, 1873, at Cotile Landing, near Boyce, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, the son of Neal Davidson and Laura (Lynch) Davidson, the former of Scotch and the latter of Irish extraction. Bequests of prosperous plantations made to Neal Davidson had been swept away during the reconstruction period in Louisiana and the young planter was forced to begin life anew. In 1874 the family located at Groesbeck, Liestone County, Texas, where the husband and father lived but a few years. Lynch Davidson had nothing to boast of in the way of early educational advantages, most of his education having been obtained in the practical school of life in his later years. He did attend the winter sessions at the little district school at Groesbeck until he had reached the age of fourteen years, but long before his school days had ended he knew full well what it meant to work, and work hard, for a living.
It was no boyish fancy but rather stern necessity that led him, at the age of fourteen, to leave the town of his birth and apply for work at the office of the Trinity County Lumber Company, at Groveton, Texas. Labor was scarce in that section in those days, and, as the boy applicant seemed eager to do anything, he was set to work about the mill handling lumber and finish. He did not balk at the hard tasks he was put to and earned the pay of a man. As he grew in years and strength he worked about the machines, and finally qualified for positions at other mills and secured employment. He operated planing machines successively for the Trinity County Lumber Company; William Cameron & Co., at Saron, and the Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company, at Orange, Texas.
Young Davidson was not a robust youth and the heavy labor involved in the handling of lumber about the mills was sapping his strength. Besides, he had gained a knowledge of the manufacture of lumber which he thought could be put to better use than in manual labor at a mill.
Reaching the point where his health was failing to such an extent as to demand his taking up some other occupation, Mr. Davidson, in 1891, entered the office of the M.T. Jones Lumber Company, at Laredo, Texas. He had a valuable knowledge of grading and mill work, and he used this training to excellent advantage in looking after the retail trade for the concern whose employ he had entered. It was not long before he had demonstrated his worth and given indication of his ability to handle a wider and greater range of business. The M.T. Jones Lumber Company was doing an extensive business in Mexico and it was into this country that the young and ambitious salesman was sent. Mr. Davidson was alive to the chance afforded him and during the three years he remained on the road for the Laredo house he gained an enviable reputation as a salesman. His next venture was as manager of the Monterey Sash & Door Company, at Monterey, in the State of Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
But Mr. Davidson tired of Mexican life and the sash and door business, and a desire again to handle lumber possessed him. So in May, 1897, he moved to Houston, Texas, with which city and various of its great lumbering concerns he since has been identified. His first efforts were directed to the transaction of a lumber business on his own account, but he abandoned this field to become secretary and sales manager of the Emporia Lumber Company. It was during his five years' connection with this company, of which S. F. Carter is general manager, that he established a reputation as a business getter, for he was most successful in securing large contracts for the company. He put much energy into the affairs entrusted to him, more, perhaps, than the average sales agent is wont to do, and made himself familiar with the sources of demand, the kind of material desired by each particular buyer and the purposes to which the lumber was put.
Mr. Davidson determined to undertake a specialty business -- the catering to railroad companies and other large consumers by furnishing them material upon their own specifications. With this purpose in view he organized the Continental Lumber Company, with a capital of $100,000, in January, 1903. The Continental company was essentially a wholesale concern, and, to provide for adequate supplies of stock, he associated himself with J. M. West in organizing the West Lumber Company, at Westville, Texas, which concern now operates three sawmills having a combined annual capacity of about 40,000,000 feet of yellow pine lumber. '
Having established mill connections with the West Lumber Company and made arrangements for stocks of other mills, Mr. Davidson sought business with his accustomed energy. He made a specialty of that class of trade which does not appeal to the manufacturer of yard stock or structural timbers. The business established in 1903 has been a success from its inception. In 1904 Ben S. Woodhead became associated with Mr. Davidson and has proved an extremely valuable lieutenant. The Continental Lumber Company probably handles more tie contracts than any other concern of like capital. It furnishes any kind of tie that may be desired and in almost any quantity. The company also handles more treated ties than any other lumber institution. Approximately 70,000,000 feet of lumber is distributed each year by the company.
Besides being the executive head of the Continental Lumber Company, Mr. Davidson is vice president of the West Lumber Company, which has a paid-in capital of $200,000, and holds the same relative position in the Mutual Lumber Company, of Austin, Texas, a comparatively new concern organized for the purpose of putting in retail line yards throughout Texas. Mr. Davidson is a stockholder in the National City Bank of Houston.
Undue self-esteem never has marred Mr. Davidson's character. He is as pleasant and affable today as he was when he held the humble position of mill hand at Groveton. He believes in living up to a contract even if its performance costs more money than is to be received. He has exemplified his belief to his own loss; but he expects the same faithfulness to contract on the part of others, and in one case he carried the matter to the highest court to enforce his rights.
Mr. Davidson married Miss Katie H. Calvit, of Houston, June 26, 1897. Three daughters have been born to the couple -- Marion, Lois and Katie Lynch Davidson. Mr. Davidson is a member of the Elks, Houston Golf and Z. Z. clubs, and is a progressive and useful citizen.