SELF-TAUGHT DESIGNER: The drawing board is where Ed Mitchell has spent much of his time at Mitchell Johnson Building Supply. Mitchell, who is self taught, has hand-drawn residential designs for 50 years, including several for three generations of family members.
SELF-TAUGHT DESIGNER: The drawing board is where Ed Mitchell has spent much of his time at Mitchell Johnson Building Supply. Mitchell, who is self taught, has hand-drawn residential designs for 50 years, including several for three generations of family members.
 

Mitchell-Johnson closing shop after 50 years

Published 12:19pm Friday, May 31, 2013

Mitchell Johnson Building Supply once advertised it was “Continuing a Strong Tradition,” and it did so for 50 years. Now, that tradition has come to an end.

Owner Ed Mitchell officially closed the company to new business at the end of March, and has been steadily clearing out existing inventory since that time.

The business will reopen for a special two-day sale on Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8, where the remaining stock of light and plumbing fixtures and home decor items, including area rugs, will be sold at reduced prices.

The property, consisting of approximately 50 acres and several buildings, is also on the market. Mitchell says he is pursuing the sale of the business to someone who would reopen it with a new, modern business concept.

The tradition of the lumber company goes back to the early part of the 20th century when the Gunn Lumber Company, which later became the Gragg Lumber Company, operated sawmills on the property. It later became the Willis Lumber Co., and continued to operate a sawmill at the present location off State Route 97 South, until 1969.

LONG TIME AGO: A load of timber is brought to the Willis Sawmill by long time supplier, J.S. Shoemaker, who is shown to the right of the car wearing a broad brimmed hat.
LONG TIME AGO: A load of timber is brought to the Willis Sawmill by long time supplier, J.S. Shoemaker, who is shown to the right of the car wearing a broad brimmed hat.

Mitchell began working for the Willis Lumber Co. in 1960, was promoted to manager in 1963 and became a partner in 1969. In 1979 he bought out the business and changed the name to Mitchell Building Supply. Mitchell’s son-in-law, Johnny Johnson, was named president of the firm in 1999, after having served the company for 20 years, and the name became Mitchell Johnson Building Supply. After Johnson’s retirement a year ago, the name reverted back to Mitchell Building Supply.

Through the years, the business evolved from a sawmill and lumber yard, with the addition of new departments that offered complete interior design for the home. Ceramic tile, hard surface and granite counter tops, decorative hardware, carpet and pre-finished wood flooring, as well as kitchen cabinets and paint were added, followed by lighting fixtures, mirrors and other home decorative articles.

Mitchell said he has been semi-retired for the last several years and his decision to close the store is based in part on the fact that he isn’t getting any younger, and also that he must consider his wife Ann, who is experiencing health issues.

“I saw no reason to wait around and sell it as a going business, because I think the future is in the high-tech area,” he said.

Mitchell says his future plans are to spend lots of time at his Sandbar Farm. He also wants to keep on designing new homes, with the possibility of exploring new high-tech ways of using engineered wood. He cites the benefits of engineered wood over traditional lumber as being straighter and stronger than lumber, and having less waste.

Mitchell, who is also retired from many years as mayor of Brinson, has a long history of service to the Bainbridge-Decatur County community. He is a former member of the City of Bainbridge Contractors Examining Board, Bainbridge Home Builders Association, Bainbridge Country Club and the Chamber of Commerce.

He is a former board member of the Memorial Hospital Authority where he served as chairman of the building and grounds committee, and was a Rotarian and a Jaycee. Mitchell is also the past director of the Committee of 100 and past chairman of the Decatur County Board of Education.

He will also be remembered as chairing the committee that built “The Oaks,” an antebellum mansion 32 feet high and 192 feet long on the football field, where it became the set for pageant productions when Decatur County celebrated the sesquicentennial in 1973.

A life-long resident of Brinson, he is a member of Brinson United Methodist Church. He and his wife, Ann Durham Mitchell, have three daughters, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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