Tri James: A True Grit Family

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Courtney Barron and her grandmother, Pauline James, keep the daily operations at Tri James Services running smoothly. Their office greeter, Riley, photobombs them from behind the office window.
Courtney Barron and her grandmother, Pauline James, keep the daily operations at Tri James Services running smoothly. Their office greeter, Riley, photobombs them from behind the office window.

Article Contributed by
Leann Austin

When you walk through the doors of Tri James Services in Lakewood, you’ll not only be greeted by the friendly faces of Pauline James, co-owner, and Courtney Barron, her granddaughter, but you’ll also receive a warm welcome from their office mascot, Riley.

Pauline James, who is a co-owner of Tri James with her two sons, Rex and Duane James, does the bookkeeping for the business with her granddaughter, Courtney Barron.

Tri James Services got its start in the ‘40s when Pauline’s father-in-law, Leon James, used ingenuity and entrepreneurship to start up his business.
“He did it for something to do,” said James. “He had eight children and had to do something to keep them fed.”

Leon James started with a shovel and a dump truck. He shoveled bank run gravel by hand onto his truck as it came out of the ground. He loaded it and hauled it to the homes of people who ordered his product.

“He was a young man when he did that,” Pauline said.

James’ business grew steadily. “The business got real busy, so he had his sons come in,” Pauline said. Her husband, Lewis, was around sixteen years old when he started helping his dad shoveling gravel onto his dump truck.

“After that, he bought property and equipment to make all the material,” Pauline said. Leon’s wife helped until it got too busy. Then she said she was done. It was just too much, according to Pauline.

The business was passed to Leon’s three sons: Lewis, Donald and Alvin. It continued to grow rapidly and by 1968 it became Tri James Services.

When Donald passed away, Lewis bought his share of the business. Later, Rex and Duane bought Alvin’s shares and eventually Lewis’ shares became Pauline’s. It’s been a long-standing, generational business in the community that has stayed in the family.

Tri-James has three gravel pits: Sinclairville, Frewsburg, and Kiantone. They also have a stockyard in Stowe. Between the pits, they produce stone, sand and top dirt, according to Pauline. They service businesses and individuals within the county as far away as Dunkirk, Fredonia, Westfield, Findley Lake and Sherman.

How does all this product make it to its final destination?

Pauline said they have seven ten-wheelers and two single-axle trucks to make all of their deliveries. Once they have an order ready, product can be picked up at the pit or delivered.

Their business is steady year round, but they are busiest from now until mid-October.

Pauline also operates the adjoining campground at their location on 4478 W. Fairmount Avenue in Lakewood NY. She has been personally running the campground since 1962.

For more information about any of Tri James Services products, Jamestown Gazette readers can call 716-763-9797.

To read more of Leann Austin’s creative and informative contributions to the Jamestown Gazette, please go to www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the picture to search our archives for more of the stories you want to read.