Aubuchon Hardware History1
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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 awhile with an uncle on a farm in Yamaska, P.Q.
At the beginning of the 20th Century many French Canadians were arriving in the Cleghorn section of Fitchburg, Massachusetts to work in the busy mills. The founder of Aubuchon Hardware, William E. Aubuchon (1885-1971), was a member of this industrious group. He labored for several years, saving his wages and dreaming of a business of his own. In 1908, at the age of 23, he bought his first hardware store. He studied the market, purchased merchandise carefully and began to make a profit.
William took on his youngest brother, John B. Aubuchon (1890-1981), as a partner in 1913. Together they opened their second store, in downtown Fitchburg, in 1917. By the end of the 1920’s there were 8 Aubuchon Hardware stores in central Massachusetts. In spite of the depression years, the 1930’s brought growth. There were 22 more stores added which included the first locations in New Hampshire. The Company was incorporated in 1934. This decade also had its setbacks, such as the flood of 1936 that had the warehouse at 28 Rollstone Street in Fitchburg under eight feet of water. After they had recovered from this loss, the hurricane of 1938 hit and tore the roof off one end of the warehouse. The damage was as bad as the previous flood but Aubuchon Hardware persevered.
During the 1940’s many of the Company’s young men went to serve their Country in World War II. Aubuchon Hardware continued to expand and by 1948 there were 32 stores. The booming post war years of the 1950’s were also favorable to the Company. There were 44 stores by 1957. Many of the new locations were in the state of Vermont. Employees totaled 226 with many family members involved. William E. Aubuchon, Jr. became President in 1950 and brilliantly followed in the giant footsteps of his father until 1993. Building upon his father’s foundation, he enlarged the enterprise further. Both William Sr. and his brother John remained active in the daily affairs of the Company until their deaths. Besides the hardware business they were also involved in the funeral business in the John B. Aubuchon Funeral Home and in real estate in the Aubuchon Realty Company. The second generation was instrumental in making Aubuchon “The Big One in Hardware”. They included many family members such as Lester J. Archambeault, Andre R. Aubuchon, Bernard W. Aubuchon Sr., Gerard M. Aubuchon, J. Paul Aubuchon, Pierre J. Aubuchon, Sr., and M. Marcus Moran, Sr.
The decade of the 1960’s saw the most rapid store growth. There were 43 new locations added including the first branches in Maine, Connecticut, and New York. Due to the inflating store numbers, the Company outgrew its warehouse, which was a former cotton mill. A new Distribution Center building was built in the early 1970’s that also consolidated the office headquarters, garage, and workshop into Westminster, Massachusetts. The address of 95 Aubuchon Drive was chosen because there were 95 stores at the time. By the end of the 1970’s the Company had also acquired its first computer.
During this time not only were new stores being opened, but older stores were being moved, remodeled or even closed. Changes continued to occur such as the marvelous relationship with Glidden Paint that began in 1980. The 1980’s had the most rapid sales growth in the history of the Company with 36 new stores being added.
In the 1990’s the third generation of family management took the reins. Two grandsons of the founder became the new leaders of the W.E. Aubuchon Co. William E. Aubuchon, III was elected Chairman and CEO in 1993 after serving many years as Vice-President of Marketing. In the same year M. Marcus Moran, Jr. became President and Treasurer. In earlier years he had held the positions of Personnel Manager and Assistant Treasurer. The early 1990’s saw the somewhat belated addition of telephones in the stores but by the end of the decade the Company swiftly entered the 21st Century with a point-of-sale computer system in every store. Other essential third generation family members include Bernard W. Aubuchon Jr., Charles H. Aubuchon, Daniel P. Aubuchon, David C. Aubuchon, Donat C. Aubuchon, Michael G. Aubuchon, Philip J. Aubuchon, Pierre J. Aubuchon Jr., Dennis R. Boucher, and Gregory J. Moran.
Aubuchon Hardware will continue to innovate and create value for its customers with the contributions of the fourth generation. William E. Aubuchon, IV manages the Company’s website and it’s growing on-line sales. M. Marcus Moran, III is involved with Human Relations. Scott D. Aubuchon manages Information Technology. Jeffrey M. Aubuchon is the Controller. Lindsey J. Aubuchon directs the Management Information Systems. Michael D. Mattson is the Director of Advertising and Public Relations. The Company is fond of promoting from within, which means that many people involved in management started in one of the hardware stores. This also means that they have many years with the Company and are therefore treated as family. This interaction of family and business has helped Aubuchon Hardware prosper for 100 years and will assist it in the years to come.