February 2005

Gloria Schumpert James

Entrepreneur and Businesswoman

Gloria Schumpert James is an African American businesswoman operating in a predominantly white, male business world. She is the president of F.B. Schumpert Lumber Company, Incorporated. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, James is the only child of Frederick Benjamin and Bessie Barber Schumpert. Educated in Richland County public schools, she graduated from C.A. Johnson High School and received the Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia. She then returned to Columbia and joined the family business.

F.B. Schumpert Lumber Co. originated in Chapin SC in the early 1900s when James’ grandfather, J.A. Schumpert, operated a turpentine business to supplement his farming income. The turpentine business involved tapping pine trees. When his business was no longer viable, her father F.B. Schumpert established a logging company and sawmill company.

In 1939, James’ father established F.B. Schumpert Lumber Co. at its current location in Columbia. For the first four decades, the company primarily manufactured and sold framing lumber to the home building industry throughout the eastern seaboard. As the success of any company depends on its ability to keep pace with changes in the marketplace, this company has had to diversify.

Today, the F.B. Schumpert Lumber Co. also manufactures and sells wood shipping components to industries and the government. These components include pallets, skids, boxes, crates, and specified cut lumber.

Business and industry research indicate that the vast majority of family run businesses do not survive the transition from one generation to the next. F.B. Schumpert Lumber Co., however, is a third generation family business that has managed to grow and prosper because of its solid foundation and current leadership.

Establishing and operating a successful business of this type in the early part of the 20th century was quite an accomplishment for a Black family in the segregated South.

James and her husband, Marshall E. James, continue to uphold the reputation of their company by providing excellent goods and services to their customers. The company is celebrating 65 years of doing business in the Midlands of South Carolina.

James and her company have received many awards and recognitions, including the 1981 Economic Stability Award from the South Carolina Governor’s Office of Small and Minority Businesses and the 2000 Supplier of the Year Award from the Midlands Minority Supplier Development Council.

Her community involvement includes board memberships on the Carolinas Minority Supplier Development Council, River Alliance, Greater Columbia Community Relations Council, and the Historic Columbia Foundation. She has also served on the boards of Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Children Unlimited, St. Lawrence Place, and the Eboni Dance Theater.

She is affiliated with Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Chapin, SC, and is a member of the Second Calvary Baptist Church, Columbia Chapter of Links, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the NAACP.