Town of Westminster Hit With More than Two Dozen Layoffs
An American hardware store chain, Aubuchon Hardware, has announced that the company is closing its distribution center in Westminster, Massachusetts. The closure of the facility in a few months will cause 31 employees to lose their jobs. About 25 of the affected workers are part of the Teamsters Local 170 union; the other workers are non-unionized.
The decision to close the Westminster facility may partly have to do with the company’s tussle with the union. In November 2016, the company and the union landed in a labor dispute which resulted in the stoppage of work at the facility. The temporary shutdown hurt Aubuchon Hardware’s business.
The Westminster facility saw a major bout of layoffs months after that temporary lockout (or strike, according to management). The company says that 32 unionized workers were let go in June; a union representative says 43 were let go.
The decision to close the Westminster facility and lay off the remaining workers will allow the company to cut down on union-related employee costs.
Nonetheless, the company says that the closure is primarily a result of a significant strategic change in the company’s business model. The family-owned hardware chain has decided to completely outsource its distribution operation. This way, the chain will no longer be maintaining company-owned warehouses. Meanwhile, Aubuchon Hardware will shift its complete focus to its retail business.
“We decided to eliminate distribution from our business,” said CEO Will Aubuchon IV. He added, “We have to put all of our effort into making sure that our retail experience is exceptional, that’s really what’s driving the decision.”
The CEO said that Aubuchon Hardware will be outsourcing its distribution to Emery Waterhouse Company, which is based in Portland, Maine, and to Orgill, Inc., which is a Tennessee-based distribution company that has warehouses in New York.
The oldest family-owned and managed hardware store chain in the United States, Aubuchon Hardware first opened its doors in Fitchburg, Massachusetts in 1908. The company sells paint, tools, lawn care and gardening supplies, home appliances, and other types of hardware. It currently has more than 100 retail locations in New England and upstate New York.
“Aubuchon to close Westminster distribution center; 31 workers to lose jobs,” Sentinel & Enterprise, August 2, 2017.
“About Us,” Aubuchon Hardware, last accessed August 3, 2017.