Ken

Ken Hamshaw is president of Hamshaw Lumber.

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Editor's Note: This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, to include information from Ken Hamshaw.

BRATTLEBORO — A hardware store based in Keene, N.H., has purchased all five locations of Leader Home Center, including one on Marlboro Road in West Brattleboro.

According to a news release from Ken Hamshaw, president of Hamshaw Lumber, several of the recently purchased locations will undergo renovations as well as updates to vehicles and equipment.

"The joining of these two businesses will afford customers a broad selection of products and services across the entire Connecticut Valley region of New England," stated Douglas Hamshaw, founder of Hamshaw's and chairman of its board of directors, in the news release. 

Ken Hamshaw told the Reformer all the stores will see renovations over the next year or so.

He also said there are no plans to eliminate positions.

"We are looking to grow, not to reduce employment," he said. "We are excited for the growth and the opportunity to reach more customers."

Hamshaw's is an Ace cooperative member, with locations on Winchester Street in Keene and New Athol Road in Orange, Mass. Hamshaw's also owns Cheshire Horse, with locations on Route 10 in Swanzey, N.H., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Douglas Hamshaw started out in the business in 1980 after purchasing Old Colony Lumber in Keene. At the time, states the news release, Old Colony was close to bankruptcy, with $200,000 in annual sales. Currently, Hamshaw's has $50 million in annual sales across its four stores and employs 165 people. With the acquisition of the Leader stores in Brattleboro and Greenfield, Deerfield, Amherst and Barre, Mass., that number increases to 243 employees.

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Leader was started in 1986 by Peter Filion in the former Echo Lunch Restaurant in Greenfield. Ten years later, Leader Home Centers acquired Elder Lumber, adding locations in Amherst and South Deerfield.

In 1990, Leader acquired Guilford Home Center in Guilford and eight years later, it opened a location in Barre to serve the needs of Eastern Massachusetts.

In 2000 Leader closed its Guilford location and moved to its current location on Marlboro Road.

Hamshaw said that Filion, outside of helping with the transition, doesn't plan on staying with the company.

Cheshire Horse was started by Marianne Hamshaw, Douglas Hamshaw's wife, in 1997. It is currently operated by their daughter, Elizabeth.​

In 2020, Douglas Hamshaw founded Prichard Supply, a wholesale equine supply store, and the formerly named ACE Rental Center, now Hamshaw Outdoor Power Equipment and Rental, also on Winchester Street in Keene.

In 2014, Hamshaw was named Lumber Person of the Year by the New Hampshire Retail Lumber Association. He got his start in the business at Port Washington Lumber on Long Island in 1968, unloading pine cars and stocking bins for $2.25 an hour. Eventually he became manager of the store. In 1974, he moved to Pergament Home Centers, a home improvement chain with stores in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

In 1977, he moved to Marlborough, N.H., to manage Camp Glen Brook, a year-round educational camp, which he had attended and where he met his wife. Shortly afterward, he took a lumber sales position with Old Colony Lumber, eventually buying the company.

"Treat the customer the way you’d want to be treated," said Douglas Hamshaw when he received the award. "How would you feel if you were in their shoes? I’ve always tried to run a business that people can recognize as having high standards with fairness at the center of it."

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.