THE HISTORY OF PIERCE
The Pierce name became a recognized business in 1924 when George R. Pierce decided to begin selling used cars in Billings, MT. He always said he did not handle used cars, only "Experienced Automobiles". 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." This motto has carried on with the current company president, Ron Pierce, who is George R. Pierce’s grandson. For over 90 years the Pierce family has been in business within the Montana community with many different products and services throughout the years.
In 1939, George R. became the Willy's Jeep distributor in Eastern Montana and Northern Wyoming. About this time, he also started a linoleum flooring business, with carpet being added shortly after. Used cars, used parts, automobile repair, and what little linoleum was available, carried on the business through World War II. George R. Pierce received a remark stating, “Your place is so dirty. How can you get people to stand still long enough to sell them anything?” George quickly 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". After the war, George’s sons, John, Frank, and George L. came home from the Army and joined the family business.
The business grew until it became necessary to purchase a used car lot at 5th Street West and St. Johns Ave, which is when a few travel trailers and mobile homes were added. The used car lot evolved into Pierce RVs and Homes in 1955. After George R. Pierce passed away in 1958 of a heart attack, his sons Frank, John, and George L. took over the businesses. Years later, John and George L. purchased Frank’s shares of the business.
In 1967, the flooring division started its expansion with the opening of a Bozeman store. From there, the rest of the flooring stores were established in Missoula, Butte, and Great Falls with additional locations in Billings and Bozeman. The World Famous Carpet Barn in Billings was the first Pierce flooring outlet, which opened in 1972.
The commercial storage and mobile office leasing business were started in the mid 1980s, which is about the same time they acquired the area that housed RVs, Homes, and Leasing on one lot. This site now is used for Montana Modular, the second Homes location in Billings. The next expansion of the Pierce Company took place in Great Falls when they opened up another modular home location in 2001.
In 2002, the Billings Homes, RVs, and Leasing locations out grew the current lot and moved to a new combined facility on 27 acres off of the I-90 Zoo Drive exit. The popularity of RVs grew, so the business was expanded into Kalispell in 2006 and Great Falls in 2011. The Pierce family also broadened the modular home business with a subdivision in Williston, ND called Blackwood Estates, which was established in 2012.
Ron Pierce has been involved in his grandfather’s company since the 1960s. He has worked in the warehouse, on the sales floor, and in the back office. In the late 1970s, Ron’s involvement grew and he started working to expand the flooring side of the family business. As the business grew, it became two separate entities, GEO R. Pierce and Pierce Flooring under the all-encompassing Pierce Companies. After the death of his brother in 1998, Ron took over both sides of the company.
Pierce Companies has grown into a large Montana-family owned operation that is based on hard work, honesty, trust, and taking extreme care of customers, suppliers, employees, and giving back to their communities. The Pierce family now has seven flooring stores, three recreational vehicle dealerships, four modular home locations, and a division for leasing mobile commercial offices and storage containers.
Ron Pierce continues the family legacy by keeping George R. Pierce’s focus on great customer service. Ron instills in his employees to “treat every customer in a manner that they will do business with you for the rest of their lives”. The fourth generation, Russell and Jake Pierce, will carry on the family tradition for the future generations to come.