Barney McGrann, retired president of Penn Stone, passed away on Wednesday, October 2, 2019.
Barney purchased Penn Stone in 1986 after an eighteen-year career in banking. Barney became the third owner of Penn Stone, succeeding the Swarr family who owned it from 1914 to 1979, and Norris Boyd who owned it from 1979 until 1986.
At that time, Penn Stone was a successful small business, a supplier of masonry and plaster materials to local contractors, but the products offered were limited to bagged cement and plaster, masonry and plaster accessory items, fireplace components, and bulk sand and stone.
Barney envisioned a different future for Penn Stone. He immediately made plans to build a new office building, and construction of that building was completed in 1988. He also sought to expand Penn Stone’s product line to include face brick from Glen-Gery Brick.
Shortly thereafter, Barney learned about EP Henry concrete pavers and retaining wall systems. Concrete hardscaping was a little-known product line at that time, but Barney recognized it as something that held great promise, and Penn Stone signed on in 1990 as one of the first ten dealers for EP Henry hardscaping products.
Over the next ten years, Penn Stone’s business grew to include natural stone veneer and Lancaster’s best selection of natural landscape stone. Thanks to Barney’s vision, Penn Stone transformed into a leading local supplier of exterior masonry materials for new home construction, residential remodeling, and light commercial construction, as well as a pioneer in Lancaster in the field of hardscaping for patios, walkways, driveways and retaining walls.
Barney always emphasized the importance of honesty in customer relationships, reliable customer service, representing high-quality product lines, and loyalty to vendors. These values guided his decision-making, set an example for Penn Stone employees to follow, and built a strong base of faithful customers.
Barney loved the opportunity to advise and assist contractor customers as they started or grew their businesses. He offered insights on establishing banking relationships and on managing employees, jobsite productivity, and working with customers. On many occasions, he accommodated new, young business owners by extending credit where others might not have, because he recognized the promise and potential of an individual striving for a bright future.
Barney also cared deeply about Penn Stone employees, offering many benefits uncommon at the time in the world of small construction-supply companies. He offered generous health insurance for all employees and their dependents, he sponsored GED classes for employees, and he implemented a company-sponsored profit sharing plan, providing longtime Penn Stone employees with the opportunity for a secure retirement.
Barney was committed to the Lancaster community. He dedicated his time to local organizations such as St. Anne’s Home and Village, Junior Achievement, the United Way and Rotary. He was especially proud of his service to the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where he served on the board and collaborated with Earl Hess from Lancaster Laboratories to launch the Small Business Group in the late 1980s. He was also a finalist for the Chamber’s Small Business Person of the Year recognition.
But perhaps most importantly, Barney cultivated many relationships as the owner of Penn Stone. His community involvement enhanced and expanded Penn Stone’s reputation as a trusted resource in Lancaster. He was frequently found at the Penn Stone counter, talking at length with Penn Stone’s many customers and vendors, and those business relationships often developed into lifelong friendships.
In 2000, Barney began transitioning ownership of Penn Stone to his son John McGrann and John’s wife Mara Creswell McGrann. John and Mara are proud to carry on Barney’s legacy of owning and operating a successful small business, maintaining trustworthy relationships with customers and vendors, and sustaining a deep commitment to employees and the community.