In 1924, George R. Pierce decided to begin selling used cars for himself. He decided to rent the west half of the building located at 30TH and Montana Avenue in Billings, MT, where the original Pierce Flooring store would eventually be located. He always said he did not handle used cars, only "Experienced Automobiles". George Pierce was a master organizer and salesman. However, one man once remarked to him. "Your place is so dirty. How can you get people to stand still long enough to sell them anything?" Thinking quickly, George replied, "The joint is dirty, but we are sociable." This became a new phrase in his advertising along with his myth of a dog called, "Gum Shoe". Over the years, he had many men and boys employed, and he often times provided meals and a roof over their heads during tough times. George always said, "No one works for me, they work with me."
In 1939, George became the distributor for Willy's Jeep in Eastern Montana and Northern Wyoming. About this time, he also started the flooring business with linoleum. Used cars, used parts, automobile repair, and what little linoleum was available, carried on the show through World War II. After the war, his sons, John, Frank, and George came home from the Army and joined in the business.
Shortly after, he added carpet to his linoleum department. Automobiles were handled on one side of the building, carpet on the other side of the building, and linoleum, tile, and paint in the basement. The business grew until it became necessary to purchase a used car lot at 5th Street West and St. Johns Ave. With extra space available, a few travel trailers and mobile homes were added to the business.
In 1965, Kaiser industry cancelled all Willy's distributorships. By this time, business expansion warranted the entire downtown store at 30th and Montana to be used for the flooring business, and all auto related activities were located at the 5th and St. Johns location.
George R. Pierce passed away in 1958 of a heart attack. Ten years later, in April of 1968, son's John and George L. Pierce purchased their brother Frank's share of the businesses.
Pierce Flooring expanded its operations by establishing a retail store in Bozeman in 1967 located at the corner of 6th and East Mendenhall. John Pierce passed away 1971 of a heart attack. As business grew, a new store was constructed in 1971 at 544 East Mendenhall, across the street. The next phase of Pierce Flooring's expansion was in Billings. In 1972, the Pierces purchased a building, originally a bowling alley, located at 2032 Grand Avenue and opened the Carpet Barn, a "discount" retail store. Missoula became the next new location for Pierce Flooring when an old Safeway building was leased, and ultimately purchased at 1603 Brooks Street. As warehouse capacity grew short, the decision was made to construct a new 19,800 sq.ft. warehouse facility located adjacent to interstate 90, just east of South 27th street in Billings in 1978. Next, Great Falls became the new home of Pierce Flooring, located on an old dairy property situated on 5 acres on 7th Street South. This addition took place in 1984. George L. Pierce passed away of cancer in 1993. Butte, Montana was our next location for a retail store. We remodeled and moved into a former grocery store located on Dewey Street in the summer of 1994. As business grew in Bozeman, the decision was made to build a beautiful new facility in 1995, on the west side of Main Street. A year later, in 1996, the decision was made to acquire a second flooring store in Bozeman: Carpet Mill Outlet, located 4 miles west of Bozeman on the road to 4 Corners. This store serves as the counterpart to the Carpet Barn in Billings, selling discount promotional inventories. In 1998 we opened a new Billings Pierce Flooring store at 2950 King Avenue West.
The original 5th street west car lot grew into Pierce RV's, Pierce Parts and Service. Pierce Homes was established at Moore land and Laurel Road, where they proudly displayed an inventory of over a 1/2 mile of homes. In 2002 Ron Pierce re-located Pierce Homes, RV's and leasing to a brand new facility located on 27 acres just off I-90 at the Shiloh interchange. In 2006 Pierce RV's added a second facility in Kalispell, MT and in 2011 added another location in Great Falls, MT.
The Pierce businesses have grown into a large Montana-family owned operation including 7 flooring stores, the Pierce Homes and RV Supercenter, and Pierce RV Center in Kalispell and Great Falls. Ron Pierce is the sole owner of Geo. R. Pierce Inc. which employs over 170 people. The businesses are based on hard work, honesty, trust, and taking extreme care of customers, suppliers, employees, and giving back to their communities.
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