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  • Writer's pictureBen Aubuchon

Montpelier VT Aubuchon Ace Hardware Re-Opens after Devastating Flood Damage

The Aubuchon Company recently celebrated the Grand Re-Opening of their Montpelier, VT store after the catastrophic flooding on July 10th & 11th of 2023! “We are back bigger than ever after the devastating floods this past summer ready to serve the community!” stated CEO, Will Aubuchon, on the company’s Instagram post.

The Grand Opening Ceremony!

This is not the first natural disaster that we have had to overcome. In 1992, our same Montpelier, VT store experienced severe flooding. Then in 2011, hurricane Irene wreaked havoc throughout Vermont. Lessons learned during those prior events helped many Vermont towns prepare for a more proactive response during last summer’s storm. However, there was only so much we, as local businesses, could do to prepare ourselves for what was to come. The destruction forced hundreds of people to evacuate and destroyed homes, businesses, and farms. The heavy rain cratered roads, triggered mudslides, and flooded downtowns, leaving layers of mud, rubble, and extensive property damage. Rescue teams from over a half-dozen other states brought fresh personnel and equipment into central Vermont in response to the state of emergency.

The state of the store during the flood.
After! New floors & wider aisles!

To support our local Vermont communities, we launched a Vermont Flood Recovery Roundup Campaign in our surrounding stores. The fundraiser occurred in 17 Aubuchon Hardware stores, Martin’s Hardware & Building Supply, and Lyndonville Hardware & Lumber. Customers could donate their change by rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar. This campaign ran from July 17th to July 31st. Within that short amount of time, customers donated $18,286.

The Aubuchon Foundation, our nonprofit arm, matched the amount raised at each store, bringing the total donation to $36,572! Proceeds benefited the VT Flood Response & Recovery Fund set up by The Vermont Community Foundation. Fund contributions supported emergency needs, families, farms, Main Street businesses, and communities impacted across the state.

Middlebury, VT store manager, Renee Carpenter, presenting the $36,572 check to The Vermont Community Foundation.

Those that attended the Grand Re-Opening were privileged to be in the presence of two Aubuchon Company local legends; Dick Harlow and Gary Law!

Dick Harlow began his career with the Aubuchon Company after he was hired in the basement of our Windsor, VT store by Bernard Aubuchon Sr. in April of 1961. Though he started in the Windsor store, he soon went to our Montpelier store in 1963. Harlow had only good things to say about the store’s new facelift, “I think it's a great layout, far better than the previous layout. The merchandise coming from Ace looks top quality, an improvement compared to some of the merchandise we’ve had in the past.” Although Harlow officially retired in 2000, he returned to work part-time for a few more years. 

Gary Law was onboarded with the Aubuchon Company in May of 1978. He spent most of his career in Barre, Johnson, and Montpelier, but would also fill in for managers who took time off. He was also essential in setting up new stores in and around Vermont. After Harlow retired, Law took over as the Montpelier store manager, running the location with his wife, Maria. When he stepped down as manager, he took over as the Montpelier paint specialist before retiring in 2019. “I like how Barry and the carpenters leveled out the floor, so we have limited ramps or steps where needed. Having the main windows even with the floor instead of raised up is also a great improvement for both looking out and looking in. This makes the display area much more user-friendly. The new floor looks awesome! For many years multiple floor tiles were missing. When a new customer entered the store, that was the first thing they would notice. A brand new floor makes the customer's shopping experience even more enjoyable. Also, having the aisles shorter will make shopping easier. Now you don’t have to walk the entire store to get to the next aisle!” stated Law about the newly revitalized store.

During the Grand Re-Opening ceremony, Harlow and Law were both guests of honor, each being presented with a bucket full of gifts from the Aubuchon Company. Bill Aubuchon III referred to the two as "highly regarded by the entire community, known to treat all customers with ultimate care and respect," later calling them "legacy leaders of the Aubuchon Company!"

Left to right: Josiah Gates, Don “Tip” Ruggles, Dick Harlow, Bill Aubuchon III, Will Aubuchon IV, and Gary Law.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to be honored. What impressed me the most was that Bill flew all the way to Vermont to be there, and the company gifted us some wonderful items!” exclaimed Harlow.  

Law told us “I wasn’t expecting to get so many nice gifts at the Re-Opening!  I was there to show my support for the crew who still operates my store. Gregg and his crew do their very best to help customers with their needs. That store was a big part of my life and my family’s too. My wife, my two boys, and my daughter all worked there at one time! Bill lll used to call it ‘LawBuchons.’ When I first took over the store, Marcus Moran Jr. told me to run it like it was my own. A few years after we had it, one of the floods happened. The company remodeled the store, and during the Grand Re-Opening, Marcus Jr. and Bill lll surprised me with a neon sign that read "Gary's Aubuchon Hardware" I was humbled by that. I have always been so appreciative of the belief that the company had in me.” 

Harlow and Law were not the only special guests in attendance; Ken Moore's family had also traveled to Vermont for the occasion. The Grand Re-Opening ceremony marked the official dedication of the newly revamped store to Ken Moore, who passed away in the fall of 2023. A touching tribute to him is displayed near the checkout registers—a beautiful plaque bearing the inscription:

Ken Moore

We gather today, January 19, 2024, to dedicate our first co-branded Aubuchon Ace Hardware store to Kenneth Stanley Moore.

Always embodying our Company's culture of passion & humility. Ken devoted 44 years to his Aubuchon work family. He began working part-time in high school, progressing through many roles, most recently as Merchandising Director. Aubuchon was more than just a job or a career.

Ken bled orange and green.

Ken also embraced innovation and change. For example, Ken led 100+ store projects to upgrade and modernize all paint departments with Benjamin Moore. Today marks the start of a similarly intense initiative. Montpelier is the first of over 100 projects to elevate the shopping experience in all stores with Aubuchon and Ace together. Ken would have loved this! Though his absence is profoundly felt, his spirit (and yellow pad!) will always be with us, helping us to push through and make it right for the customer.

Ken set the standard for honesty, integrity, and work ethic. Respected by everyone, Ken always provided a voice of reason, words of encouragement, and a kind heart to co-workers and customers alike. We are deeply grateful for Ken's countless contributions and life-long commitment to “The Aubuchon Difference."

Outside of work, Ken loved fried clams, golf, relaxing on the beach, and watching the Patriots.

But most of all, Ken loved his family, especially his loving grandchildren - Best Papa Ever!

Ken passed away on Monday, October 16, 2023. Godspeed Ken. We love you.

Ken Moore’s family with the store dedication plaque.

“I want to thank everyone at Aubuchon for making the store dedication possible. The plaque was incredible, and so was the whole event. My husband and I plan to make Montpelier an annual trip for the family.” said Ken’s daughter, Ashley Lamb

Numerous individuals played crucial roles in the successful reopening of the store. Our gratitude extends to the Regional Support Team and Regional Operations Team, expertly led by our Regional Director, Justin Bicknell. Special recognition is owed to the Fixture Shop, under the guidance of Facilities Manager Barry Johndro, for their exceptional efforts in bringing the construction project from ground zero to completion.

The Support Center demonstrated remarkable commitment, supporting operations, merchandising, and human resources. Ace also deserves acknowledgment for their invaluable assistance, particularly in making Montpelier our first co-branded store!

“A special shout-out to Project Manager Peter Hodge, Multi-Store Manager Mike Reddy, and the Merchandising Team from Quest for their instrumental support in the reopening of Montpelier,” said Chief Operating Officer, Josiah Gates. The collaborative efforts of Aubuchon Realty Company, led by Eamon Moran, alongside the Aubuchon Company, also played a pivotal role in the reconstruction and operational revival of Montpelier.”

Lastly, the dedicated Store Team, led by Store Manager Gregg McNelis, worked closely with all parties, contributing significantly to the successful reopening. Without the unwavering support and dedication of everyone involved, we wouldn't be able to boast one of the most prestigious Hardware Stores in Central Vermont. Thank you!

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