The Beginning

Pilot Lumber was originally formed back in 1919 as Gorman Coal and Supply Company. We have over 100 years of providing quality supplies to the Bellevue and Greater Cincinnati area.

Mr. Frank B. Peters, a wholesale cement salesman, had a dream of owning his own business. The Peters’ family acquired Gorman Coal and incorporated as Peters Coal and Supply in Kentucky on April 30, 1933. Frank's wife, Mrs. Barbara Neekamp Peters worked as company treasurer and ran the daily operations of the coal company. 

After graduating from Highlands High School in 1935, their son Alfred C. Peters came to work in the family business. To help keep up with the demand, Frank and Barbara hired Kathryn “Queenie” Thompson, a friend of Al’s and an employee of the H.S. Pogue Company. Queenie and Al were later married and worked together until their retirement in the spring of 1971. 

In the late sixties, two fires occurred at the company. A third fire occurred on December 26, 1970. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the fires had taken a toll on the Peters’ family business. 

Grause Transition

On April 1, 1971, at the age of 56, Fred W. Grause purchased the Peters Coal and Supply Company. Fred cut his teeth as owner and operator of the Fred Grause Tile Company. Grause helped to transform the business after the disastrous fires within just a few months. 

He constructed a 6,000 sq. ft. concrete building and moved the entrance to the west end of the 200 block of Grandview Avenue. In 1971, Fred's youngest child, Kenneth, began work at Peters Coal and Supply as a part-time yard help and driver. After graduating from Highlands High School, Ken attended Thomas More College at night so that he could work full-time at the company. 

In January of 1975, the company's name changed to d.b.a. Bellevue Home Improvement Center. The company shifted away from coal to keep up with the times. By the end of the 1970s, Ken and his wife, Denise Lawrence Grause, acquired the company.

Do it Center

The 1980s were exciting years. In December of 1981, the 6,000 sq. ft. addition to the main store building was completed. The expansion doubled the square footage of the retail store. In the fall of 1983, two adjacent parcels of land were acquired. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the lumber yard was completely overhauled with a new main lumber shed, perimeter cantilever racked buildings, and concrete pavement. In 1990, the main building was remodeled into a Do it Center, and the name was changed to Pilot Lumber Do it Center.

Purchase of Hess and Racke

On January 1, 1998, the Grauses purchased the assets of Hess and Racke, Inc. in Alexandria, Kentucky from A. Kenneth Racke, the second-generation owner operator. During the first year, two new lumber buildings were erected more than doubling the storage capacity. This acquisition brought the company back to its roots, with its main focus again on the professional residential builders and remodelers.

Thirteen years later, in September 2011, Ken and Denise purchased the assets of Moore’s Home Center in Fort Thomas. The Fort Thomas location was closed and all full-time employees were merged into the two existing locations of Pilot Lumber.


2015 brought another generation to the Peters Coal and Supply Company. Liesl, the middle daughter of Ken and Denise joined the team on a full-time basis after working part-time while in school. Pilot has over 100 years of supplying quality building materials, and plans to carry on for 100 more!