Since 1908, the Aubuchon Hardware name has been a staple for hardware stores around the New England area. The business itself – W.E. Aubuchon Co., Inc.– has always been a good, old fashioned family company, with fourth generation family member Will Aubuchon currently as President and CEO.
The first and initial generation – founder William (Willie) Aubuchon – decided to expand quite rapidly, even through the hardships faced during that time due to the Great Depression. He had a plan to grow and with that, the second generation took advantage of the tailwinds of WWII, with so much growth and acceleration throughout New England, including more sophisticated warehousing and distribution methods. The third generation not only persevered through an onslaught of new big box competition but continuously reinvested back into the business with not only capital but training and development as well.
Aubuchon Hardware recently celebrated its 114th anniversary in February 2022, and with it embraced a rebrand of the corporate entity to “The Aubuchon Company.”
This name change supports the idea of “multi-brand” – a clear vision that the fourth generation has in mind for the future of the company- acquiring stores well beyond the northeast, and being flexible and capable of absorbing different branded stores into the Aubuchon family. Recent examples include Village Hardware in Alexandria, VA and four True Value stores in Pennsylvania.
Despite this rapid growth, Aubuchon’s core customer still remains the homeowner.
“You’re not going to go to a hardware store to build a kitchen,” Aubuchon said, “the focus is more on home maintenance and repair.”
Pet owners, gardeners, and painters are all additional segments to the Aubuchon strategic initiative – serving businesses in local markets, not just paint or gardening tools, but anything that they need, delivering supplies out of the back door whenever they need them.
One large part of the Aubuchon rebrand is getting out of distribution and rethinking strategies to expand and grow, including technology. Historically, the company was self-admitably slow in embracing certain technologies, adding phones to stores as late as 1992 and point of sale computers in 1998. But all that has now changed as the company quickly embraces new technologies like curbside for customers and mobile devices and apps for employee productivity.
The fourth generation, Will Aubuchon’s generation, really embraced and focused on the technology aspect as computers and phones turned into the light speed they are today.
“We are fully embracing a new mindset, rethinking ways of doing business, and growing beyond New England – a collection of brands in the future. All of the generations before me had critical success: a commitment to each other as a family. We’ve had a special sensitivity to relationships, but also to attract really good employees within the company. It’s these folks that have made the success over the years,” he said.
The Aubuchon Company continues to grow despite the current pandemic.
“We prepared for all of this by luck, which also goes back to getting out of distribution pre-pandemic,” Aubuchon said. “There’s a lot of flux in uncertainty, and we just need to remain agile, and focus on productivity. You can only control what you can control and we are embracing this new mindset with curbside pick-up, inventory on the website, even upgraded technology for the front line with handheld devices with apps, making them more capable.”
Since being founded in 1908 right in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce has also played a key role for The Aubuchon Company. “It was Marcus Moran, Jr. who preached that the solution to the world’s problem would be W2s; that jobs are essential to any problem. The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce helps to support and expand the number of W2s in our local community. The more W2s, the stronger the community,” Aubuchon said.
In the near future, they will be relaunching their website and adding more acquisitions this year.
You can learn more about The Aubuchon Company on their website at https://aubuchon.company.