The first store of what was to later become Lounsbury Company Limited was opened on the wharf in Newcastle in 1878 by Leonard W. Johnston. From 1878 until 1892 the company operated under the name JOHNSON AND COMPANY and during this time John T. Clark and W. G. Clark, who later became Lieutenant Governor of N.B., came to work there. They were given a special contract by Mr. Johnston to operate the Fredericton part of the business and in 1887 entered into partnership with Mr. Johnston, this partnership lasted until 1889.
Mr. George N. Clark was also employed as a salesman at this time. In 1890 John T. Clark and W. G. Clark, under the name J. Clark and Son took over the Fredericton business for the south-west region of New Brunswick.
Mr. Johnston, still as JOHNSON AND COMPANY, had headquarters in Woodstock for that district, Newcastle was the headquarters for the eastern side of the province and New Carisle was headquarters for Bonaventure and Gaspe counties in Quebec. An agency was located at Rexton, N.B. under Mr. Edward Hannay. G.A. Lounsbury was hired as a traveling salesman by J. Clark and Son.
In 1892 Mr. Johnston sold his Newcastle business to George N. Clark and G.A. Lounsbury, who operated under the name CLARK AND LOUNSBURY.
At this time they also opened an agency in Chatham, N.B. under George Hildebrand. In 1894 an agency opened in Moncton, N.B. with Warman and Bourque as representatives. The company was known as CLARK & LOUNSBURYuntil 1896. In 1895, C.C. Hayward, who would later become company president, was hired as an office boy in Newcastle.
In 1896 the partnership of George N. Clark and George A. Lounsbury was dissolved, with Clark selling his share to Lounsbury – and the business became G.A. LOUNSBURY AND CO.. Mr. Lounsbury then expanded to open a small store in Bathurst, selling farm machinery and in 1897 the company started selling pianos and home furnishings.
The company went under the name G.A. Lounsbury and company until 1902. During this period (in 1898) a store was opened in Campbellton in rented premises on Water Street and a new brick building was begun to replace the original wooden one on the Newcastle Wharf.
The Newcastle building was completed in March of 1902 and Mr. G.A. Lounsbury died the same month. After his death W.G. Clark and Annie E. Lounsbury, Executors of the estate of George A. Lounsbury, called a meeting of some of Lounsbury’s business associates: Joseph Howe Taylor – Campbellton, George Hildebrand – Chatham, C.C. Hayward – Newcastle, Samuel R. Shirley – Bathurst, Edward Hannay – Rexton, and Havelock Warman and Joseph Bourque – Moncton, to discuss carrying on the business.
It was agreed, the company was incorporated as THE LOUNSBURY COMPANY LIMITED and the first meeting of shareholders, as named above, was held in Newcastle June 17th,1902. Letters patent incorporating the company were adopted as the charter of the company. Newcastle became the Head Office of the company and By-Laws were confirmed. Directors were: John T. Clark, W.G. Clark, and C.C. Hayward. W.G. Clark was elected President and C.C. Hayward, Secretary.
The next stage of The Lounsbury Company Limited> continued until 1950. During this time the company continued to flourish, opening new agencies and branches covering the north-east side of New Brunswick and taking on the new lines of merchandise to keep abreast of the times.
In 1911 the Lounsbury Company sold its first automobile, a 3 Speed Model B. Russell Roadster, to Earnest Hutchison, a retired businessman of Douglastown, who printed the first N.B. Road Map and Guide Book. The second sale was a Brockville Atlas, made by Canada Carriage Co.,this was sold to C.C. Hayward.
In 1915 a milestone in the company’s history was recorded. Mr. Hayward visited the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto where the famous 490 Chevrolet chassis was on display.
He signed a contract as Chevrolet dealer for the company’s whole territory – with what was then called Chevrolet Motor Car Company, later to become General Motors of Canada Limited.
Lounsbury’s association with General Motors has continued for 63 years, and the names Lounsburys and Chevrolet have become synonymous in eastern N.B. An interesting note from the Annual Meeting of February 1921 refers to the fact that a luxury tax was placed on cars in 1920.
In 1916 C.C. Hayward was appointed General Manager. This was the same year that furniture was added to the line of merchandise being sold. The Executive Office of the company was moved from Newcastle to Moncton in 1923. During this period employee benefits were increased with a Group Insurance Plan being introduced in 1930 and a Pension Plan in 1942.
At a Directors’ Meeting in August 1947 a By-law was enacted changing the name of the company to LOUNSBURY COMPANY LIMITED as it is known today. In 1948 Hon. W.G. Clark died and was succeeded as President by his son, Alden.
1950 brought about another significant change in the history of the company when 35 employees purchased the late Hon. W.G. Clark’s financial interests, giving 99% of the voting shares of the company to the staff.
A write-up in the Moncton Transcript of June 23, 1950 states, While change of ownership of a company so prominent in the mercantile field attracts considerable attention in financial circles, it is perhaps of more import to the Company’s many customer friends throughout Eastern New Brunswick.
The attention arresting feature of the change of ownership is that here ownership passed into the hands of people who compose the Company, who actually, as far as its customers are concerned, are the Company.
Directors and Officers elected at this meeting were; C.C. Hayward, President: S.V. Sisson, Vice-President; David A. Smith, General Manager and Treasurer; F.E. Locke, Secretary; and W.R. McKinnon as director.
Mr. Hayward died in 1955 and David A. Smith was elected President and General Manager.
In 1957 the Head Office of the company, which had been located in Newcastle, was moved to Moncton, N.B.
In 1960 four of the company’s Industrial branches, located at Moncton, Campbellton, Fredericton, New Brunswick and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, which dealt exclusively with the retail sale and service of heavy construction and farm machinery, were sold to the employees of those branches and the Lounsbury Industrial limited company was formed. An industrial branch was opened in Saint John, N.B. in 1963. This left Lounsbury Company Limited comprised, as it is today, entirely of Store and Motor branches, with two special Truck branches located at Fredericton and Moncton.
Mr. Smith died in 1963 and was succeeded by Kenneth C. Comeau, who was president until 1978. In 1979, Tennyson A. Walker became president up until 1994 when he passed the reins over to the Larry Nelson. The company is now led by President and CEO, Ed McNally, who has been with Lounsbury Group since 1995.
The successful growth of any retail company has many contributing factors, such as leadership from the Executive, loyal employees, quality products to sell and its association with other firms and institutions. Lounsbury is no exception and in this connection has enjoyed a long association with many other firms, most notable perhaps is it has represented International Harvester Co. since 1898 and General Motors since 1915.
125 YEARS LATER – (2003) – from one small store in Newcastle, Lounsbury Company is now located in 7 towns and cities in New Brunswick, namely; Bathurst, Dalhousie, Atholville, Miramichi, Dieppe, Fredericton and Moncton.
The Lounsbury Company Limited employs over 500 employees in its Home Furnishing Stores, Automotive and Truck divisions. All of its officers, directors and managers are men and women who have moved up through the ranks of the company to their present positions. Such a company offers a fine opportunity to young people who are interested in merchandising, business administration and the general retail business.
There is an old saying The First Hundred Years Are The Hardest! which may or may not be true – in any event Lounsbury Company Limited now looks forward to its next 100 years with enthusiasm and optimism.