In 1908, our founder, Morris Black, started a small business when he bought a wagon and a team of white horses to supply building products to local contractors. Little did he realize that this modest beginning would grow into a multi-faceted construction services company with two locations over a century later – and still managed by the third and fourth generations of his family!
1928As his business grew, young Morris Black began offering more building materials, including pipe, brick, sand, cement and other masonry products; and eventually, he bought his first delivery truck. By 1928, he had warehouse locations in both Allentown and Bethlehem. The variety and quality of his products, and the dependability of his service, became Morris Black trademarks as his reputation grew.
When Morris was joined by his sons in the 1930s, the firm became Morris Black & Sons, Inc. In 1943, the company added an insulation subcontracting business, one of the first in the entire country.
1946In 1946, a modern office and warehouse was built in Bethlehem, which facilitated innovative methods of material handling such as palletized storage, forklift trucks, and conveyors to move large quantities of sand and stone. In the 1950s and 1960s, new product lines were added including face brick, fireplace products, gypsum drywall, kitchen cabinets, and appliances. Delivery capabilities were greatly expanded with the introduction of boom trucks for delivery of bricks, palletized bagged goods and drywall.
In the next 2 decades, the third generation of the Black family became associated with the company. The 1970s was a period of rapid change; the firm’s kitchen cabinet business grew into a separate department specializing in stock and custom cabinets for both builders and home owners. Custom design and installation services were added.
A Commercial Door and Hardware Department was established in 1975. This department, featuring hollow metal doors and contract hardware, became the cornerstone of the firm’s commercial sales effort; and soon included wood doors, washroom accessories, toilet partitions and other specialties.
1976In 1976, Morris Black & Sons predicted the coming do-it-yourself trend by opening a free-standing home center to market building products directly to homeowners. The new facility featured the company’s first dedicated kitchen and bath showroom.
In 1986, the company consolidated its operations in a new office building and warehouse complex in the Lehigh Valley Industrial Park, which included a 4,000 square foot kitchen and bath showroom. Today, that showroom includes over 25 fully-accessorized displays of kitchens, baths and other custom interiors, with a wide range of cabinet styles and finishes, countertop treatments and built-in appliances.
The Architectural Millwork Department was created in 1990 to supply the commercial and institutional markets with casework, cabinetry and millwork. By 2000, Morris Black was manufacturing its own custom casework in a state of the art on-site facility. This continues today as a rapidly growing part of the business.
1999The firm launched its first satellite location in 1999 with the opening of its Pocono showroom on Rt. 611 in Bartonsville. This facility was strategically planned to give the firm a local presence in Monroe and Pike counties.
The kitchen department, now named Morris Black Designs, and its designers have won numerous national (NKBA) and local (LVBA) design prizes, and their kitchens were featured on HGTV’s “Kitchen Trends” and in national magazines including Kitchen and Bath News.
In 2005, Morris Black and Sons, Inc. was awarded the “Excellence in Business” award from the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.
2008In 2008, Morris Black celebrated it’s 100th Anniversary with events including a Kitchen Giveaway Contest, parties for both staff and customers, and a Kitchen Tour that raised thousands of dollars for Valley Youth House. Morris Black also created a cookbook of family and customers’ recipes that continues to raise funds for Valley Youth House today.
In 2009, the Insulation Department was renamed Home Energy Solutions to better reflect the expanded services including residential retrofit insulation and home energy audits, and to emphasize the company’s commitment to energy efficiency.
In 2010, the Pocono kitchen and bath showroom moved to a new location at the new Shoppes at Crossroads on Route 611 in Bartonsville, PA. That same year, the Door Department added Fire Door Inspections to its list of services when Jon Black became a certified Fire Door Assembly Inspector.
Morris Black is well positioned for the future with renewed strategic focus and an exceptional group of co-workers committed to preserving and furthering the reputation of the company. From a humble start in Bethlehem to a large, modern facility in the hub of the Lehigh Valley, the “family” of Morris Black eagerly anticipates the firm’s 110th anniversary.