The origin of Ware-Butler was the result of an economic downturn in the 1920s. John
Ware and Perley G. Butler were partners in a logging operation in the Jackman area,
wholesaling lumber to buyers in the Boston and Connecticut markets. In 1923-24,
a recession prevented them from shipping lumber by train to those areas. As a result,
the two men were forced to stockpile cut lumber at a site they owned on North Street
in Waterville - the same site now occupied by Ware-Butler's headquarters store.
It was in Waterville that Ware and Butler incorporated their business and began
retailing building materials. The two men showed their ability to survive and prosper
despite the vagaries of the economy right from the start. That ability to change
with the times has characterized Ware-Butler ever since.
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
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
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
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.