In 1908, our founder, Morris Black, started a modest 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 nearly a century later — and still managed by the third and fourth generations of his family!
As his business progressed, 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. Today, the Insulation Department installs fiberglass and polyurethane foam insulation in residential and light commercial buildings throughout the Lehigh Valley and beyond. In 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 especially drywall.
In the next decade, 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 became the kitchen department specializing in stock and custom cabinets for both builders and home owners. Custom design and installation services were added.
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.
In 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 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. An integral part of the new facility was 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 Lehigh Valley showroom has been featured in Kitchen & Bath Design News, Qualified Remodeling, and Women’s Day magazines.
In 1990, the firm began supplying 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 Architectural Millwork Department continues today as a growing part of the business.
Morris Black Pocono Showroom. The firm launched its first satellite location in 1999 with the opening of its Pocono showroom on Rt. 611 in Bartonsville, PA. This facility was strategically planned to give the firm a local presence in the rapidly growing Monroe and Pike county areas.
The Kitchen Department received national recognition in both 2001 and 2002, earning first place honors each year in the Industry Leadership Awards sponsored by KBDS and the National Kitchen and Bath Association. In 2001, the firm won for Overall Excellence in Operating a Kitchen and Bath Dealership; in 2002, it won for Outstanding Service to the Industry and the Community. In 2006, Morris Black Designs won a first place from the Pocono Bulders Association in the New Kitchen category, and in 2009, MB won two first place awards in the local Lehigh Valley Builders Association contest.
In 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 2010, the Pocono kitchen and bath showroom moved to a new location at the new Shoppes at Crossroads on Route 611 in Bartonsville, PA. The Door Department added Fire Door Inspections to its list of services when Jon Black became a certified Fire Door Assembly Inspector in 2010.
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.