WEA THROUGH THE YEARS
WEA THROUGH THE YEARS
1908 Company Founded
Eventually, William (Willie) left the mills and began working for Mr. Emile Dion, who owned a hardware store in the French-Canadian section of Fitchburg-Cleghorn.
On February 9, 1908, Willie bought out Mr. Dion, and the first Aubuchon Hardware store was born.
As so often happens with immigration into the United States, it all began with adversity. And so it was with the Aubuchon Family.
On April 3, 1901, a young widow, Georgianna Aubuchon and three of her four teenage children left Canada and entered the United States in search of employment and a better life. They came to Fitchburg, MA, where the two eldest, William and Arthur began working in the yarn mills. Albanie remained at home with her mother, while John stayed for a while with an uncle on a farm in Yamaska, P.Q.
Life was not easy, but there were many French-Canadians making the same transitions. They migrated to the same areas of towns so that they could maintain their language and customs, but at the same time learn the "new ways."
1900 Start Of A New Life
By the end of the 1920s, there were eight stores in central Massachusetts. At the same time Willie's brother, John, joined the Company, and his older brother, Arthur, was running his own hardware store.
1920 The Early Years
Growth & Adversity
The 1930s brought growth. Twenty-two more stores were added which included the first New Hampshire stores. But, these were also times of adversity. It was a difficult time for the nation and Aubuchon Hardware also felt setbacks.
The first problem was the Flood of 1936. The whole Warehouse at 28 Rollstone St. in Fitchburg was under 8 feet of water. Three boats and a canoe were used to pluck the floating merchandise from the water. As the water receded, items were scooped from the mud and silt. After school, the children of the family would go to the Warehouse, where they washed and cleaned all salvageable items. The loss was $60,000, a sizable amount of money in those days.
As they were just beginning to recover from the Flood, there was the Hurricane of 1938. The damage again was severe. The roof was torn off one end of the Warehouse and the water damage was as bad as it had been in the Flood. But, once again, Willie persevered. Here was a man who only went to the fifth grade, but he had a "can-do" attitude. He saw opportunities. He seized them. He surrounded himself with smart people. And his success continued to grow!
During the 1940's many of the young men went to serve their country during World War II. Expansion of the Company was not at the forefront of everyone's mind. But, by 1948, with the War over, there were 32 stores and expansion was on the horizon.
1940 The Second World War
1950 Post War Expansion
The 1950s were busy indeed. William E. Aubuchon, Jr., Willie's eldest son, was elected President in June 1950. However, this does not mean that Willie retired. Indeed not! Until his death in 1971, he came to work daily, as did his brother John, who died 10 years later in 1981. Willie's other sons, Peter and Bernard, and John's sons, Paul and Gerard, also joined the Company during these years.
The Post War 50's brought the addition of 22 new stores. Most of these new stores were in Vermont, with some in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. M. Marcus Moran, Sr., Willie's son-in-law, was in charge of the Realty Company and you can imagine how many leases he has had to read during his career!
The 1960s continued to see rapid expansion. The first store was opened in Connecticut (Putnam) as well as the first store in Maine (Wells). There were 43 stores added in that decade and to this day it remains the decade of most rapid store growth.
A Decade of Rapid Growth
1970 Warehouse Expansion
As can be imagined, warehousing became a problem, and Phase One of the new Westminster, MA Distribution Center was built in 1970. Phase Two was completed in 1973 and the offices were moved from Fitchburg to Westminster in 1974. Phase Three opened in 1990.
In the meantime, store growth continued. The first New York store was opened in Port Henry in 1966. By the end of the 1970s, 28 new stores were part of the Company. And the first computer was brought on board. Of course, during all of this time, it must be remembered that not only were new stores being opened, but older stores were being moved, remodeled, or even closed. The Fixture Shop has consistently remained a viable link to the success of all this growth.
Then came the decade of the 1980s. There were 36 new stores added. It was also the beginning of a wonderful relationship with Glidden Paint in 1980. This decade represented the most rapid sales growth in the history of the Company.
1980 Paint Sales Growth
Third Generation Management
The third generation of family management started in the 1990s with William E. Aubuchon, III, and M. Marcus Moran, Jr. becoming CEO and President/Treasurer respectively. For the first time in company history, telephones were installed in the stores in 1992 (not a typo). In 1996 Aubuchon launched their first website.
On February 9th, 2008 Aubuchon Hardware celebrated its 100th anniversary and launched the Aubuchon Foundation, which provides funding to worthwhile local charities within the communities they serve. In 2010 Aubuchon entered into an exclusive relationship with Benjamin Moore Paints.
2000 Celebrating 100 Years
2010 To Present
Today, under the direction of William E. Aubuchon IV, great-grandson of the founder, the company continues to adapt to an ever-changing retail environment with a relentless focus on retail innovation and customer convenience.