The retail lumber and hardware business continued under their leadership until John Ware died in 1947
and Perley Butler followed him in 1948. As Gerard Giguere described the business, "They started with a
horse and buggy for deliveries. Then they had a Reo truck with hard rubber wheels." In the beginning
the men also sold fuel and grain. "In those days, most of the building was just in the summer, not during
the cold weather. They didn't have the equipment then."
While Giguere missed the first 10 years of Ware-Butler's growth, he has seen the greatest part of its
evolution. Gerard Giguere was born in Canada in 1913, the 19th of 22 children of Henry and Roseanna Giguere.
The family moved to Fairfield when Gerard was seven years old. He attended Fairfield schools and later
married a local woman, Charlotte LeClair. The couple have four children: sons Roland and Richard and
daughters, Rachel and Elaine.
In 1934, at age 21, Gerard began working at Ware-Butler as a truck driver and shop man. In fact, Giguere
established the mill shop which produces custom work for contractors, individuals and institutions under
the direction of Charles Poulin, a 45-year veteran at the store. The mill shop has proved to be a lifesaver
for contractors, especially when they have door or window problems that need special work.
Over the years, Poulin has produced patterns for items frequently requested - including several designs for
the pledge paddles used by Thomas College fraternities! During his early years at Ware-Butler, Giguere
also 'moonlighted' as a contractor, building many homes in the local areas, he reported. However, in 1945,
he was promoted to sales at the store, and it was shortly thereafter that Ware-Butler became his sole interest.
After the death of Perley Butler in 1948, both families sold their interests in the company to Fran and
Nellie Blanchard; Giguere invested in some of the stock as well.
By this time, Giguere was store manager, salesman and clerk of the corporation at Ware-Butler. In 1952, he
purchased a controlling interest in the company from Mrs. Blanchard and began creating the modern Ware-Butler
business - including the purchase of the first forklift in the city, in 1954, thus ending the days of manual
lifting and piling that had been an integral part of the lumber business in all its previous history.
It did not take long for Giguere to expand the business - opening a branch store in Skowhegan in 1961 and
another in Livermore Falls in 1966.
Ware-Butler Inc., based in Waterville, is now in its second generation as a family business. The management
of Ware-Butler today is in the hands of Richard 'Dick' Giguere, of Waterville, president and general manager
of Ware-Butler's three locations.
Born in Waterville, Dick worked at Ware-Butler throughout his high school and college years. He became a
full-time employee as an outside salesperson after graduating from Thomas College.
"We are a unique business in that we are a modern, computerized operation with old fashioned values," Giguere
said. "Of course, we offer many ready-to-go items, as do others, but we also special order those hard-to-find
products, and our custom millwork shop is busy throughout the year! Our survival over the past 80 years is built
on competitive prices, service to our customers that is often above and beyond the call of duty, and the dedication
of our loyal employees."
Dick's brother Roland managed the Livermore Falls store until recently.
Their father, company president Gerard Giguere, sadly passed away, leaving a legacy of quality customer service
and a business that continues to serve the residents of Kennebec County, Somerset County, Androscoggin County and beyond.