In 1892, S.F.Travis purchased an existing store on the river and used it as a warehouse. The building eventually grew into a retail store and The S.F.Travis Company is there today.
"Until 1955, he still ran a barge up and down the river to make deliveries," says Osborne. "In the old days they would run tabs for customers until the crops came in, then they paid them off. Business was done on a handshake."
Osborne conducts business in much the same way his great-grandfather did 125 years ago - he still offers free delivery (just not from a barge), has more than 3,000 house accounts (some who are third- and forth-generation customers) and conducts business from a tin high-ceilinged building with rolling ladders and no air-conditioning.
The old-fashioned standards of customer service are still in place. "We still wait on every customer with the attitude that they're the only one we have, " say Osborne. "our tradition is to give exceptional service. We can't cut back on that."
It may be an old-fashioned store but it has acquired a unique niche that didn't exist during S.F. Travis' time - a location just nine miles from the Kennedy Space Center. Osborne's customers include Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Space Alliance and URS. Osborne also provides supplies for NASA, the Air Force, Coast Guard, and Army in addition to power plants and heavy contractors.
"We sold the two-inch bolts that hold the shuttle to the crawler," says Osborne. "now we're getting into private launches with SpaceX." Osborne also supplied the roller bearings to open the doors of NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building and the parts for repairs to the tracking satellites for rockets and shuttles.
"Sixty percent of our business is special order and have an inventory like no one else has. Many of the customers we supply need a quick response.”
“Hardware stores are the basis of any community,” says Osborne. “It’s where people gather and that’s been our place in our community.”