It was a retail conundrum.
A. Jandris & Sons, a local concrete manufacturer, had been operating a small retail operation out of the office space attached to its High Street manufacturing plant. But the company didn’t have the time or space to operate it smoothly and customers complained it was hard to find – and sometimes, according to company President Dana D. Morse, they even complained it was hard to find the front door.
So five years ago, the company tried to shut down its little retail project and focus exclusively on manufacturing. Then, Mr. Morse said the customers complained even more.
“It was a bittersweet situation,” he said. “You don’t want to turn people away and give the wrong impression, but we weren’t set up to handle them right.”
Now, the company is embarking upon a more permanent solution: For the first time since its founding in 1920, A. Jandris & Sons is opening a retail store.
The 14,000-square-foot store at 199 East Broadway, complete with office and seminar space, is called Concrete Solutions. It has been open since April, but will hold a grand opening at 11 a.m. tomorrow. On sale are landscape materials and accessories, such as walkways and decorative retaining walls for flower beds and pools, and many of the products are made by the Gardner Company.
“it makes sense,” Mr. Morse said. “we either do it right or don’t do it at all.”
As a manufacturing company, A. Jandris & Sons has come a long way from its roots as a construction company started by local businessman Adolf Jandris. In the 1940’s, it began building bricks, and soon other local contractors began buying the bricks for their won use, according to Mr. Morse.
The in the ’50s, there was a conflict: The local contractors said they would stop buying bricks if A. Jandris & Sons kept competing with them on the construction end. The company then began phasing out the contracting part of the business and focused solely on manufacturing.
These days, it is landing major jobs. It created walls for the Fleet Center in Boston and Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, as well as for the city’s new Levi Heywood Memorial Library building.
But the company recently noticed that the people of Gardner – who have lived among it for 85 years – had no idea what it does. Company employees hope the retail store will change that.
“Let’s let people come in and see what we’re doing,” said Timothy D. Crory, who works in dealer sales and marketing for the company.
Telegram & Gazette Staff