Caldwell Celebrates 120 Years

August 1, 2008

This year marks the 120th anniversary of Caldwell Manufacturing Co. serving the fenestration industry. The Rochester, N.Y.-based company is currently managed by the fourth generation of the Boucher family-brothers Ted and Jim Boucher are president/CEO and chief business development officer, respectively.

With the backing of investor William Caldwell, the company was founded in 1888 to produce Allen Boucher's invention of a clock spring counterbalance, designed to replace the old pulley-and-weight system of window counterbalancing. The company produced many unrelated products-including nut crackers and shaving mirrors in the early days-but quickly developed a reputation in the fenestration market. "The niche that seemed to fit best was replacing the old rope and pulleys with counterbalances," Ted Boucher says. "Today, there are probably more than 1 billion Caldwell counterbalances out there in the market."

Today, the company offers block and tackle and spiral balances, its moving coil Constant Force spring and locking systems for casement windows. Although the Boucher brothers note that the current residential housing downturn is among the worst they've ever experienced, they're confident the company's broad product offering will allow it to serve its customers. "We're still small enough that as market trends change, we're nimble enough to change with them," Jim Boucher says. "We have such a broad portfolio. Our reputation for 120 years has been good in this industry. We plan on being here another 120 years."

As the market moves toward green products and manufacturing processes, Caldwell is adjusting some of its own processes to value-add for its customers. "Manufacturers are going to increasingly look for suppliers who are producing in ways that are greener," says John Kessler, vice president of sales and marketing. "We listen to our customers to find out their opportunities and then parallel them."

The fourth-generation Boucher leaders were not pressured to follow in their great-grandfather's footsteps, and neither shall be the up-and-coming fifth generation. "Dad never pushed us to come back and work in the business," explains Ted Boucher. "He recognized that you had to want to do it to come back. The funny thing about it is that it's a bit of a disease. It gets in your blood. You walk into a friend's house and look first at the windows-for us, specifically, the balance."

In addition to Rochester, the company also has production and warehousing facilities in Williamsport, Md. and El Paso, Texas; near Gainesville, Fla.; and Juarez, Mexico; as well as a subsidiary site in Leamington Spa, England.

The company has about 500 employees worldwide, many of whom have worked for Caldwell for decades. "There are a lot of fine people in the industry and a lot of fine people at Caldwell," says Ted Boucher. "I think there's a lot of loyalty at Caldwell."

The managers at Caldwell attribute the company's success in large part to long-standing customer partnerships. The Boucher brothers say Caldwell will continue to keep the customer-centric attitude established by their great-grandfather, grandfather and father. "From the earliest time, our focus has always been on how our actions affect our customers," Ted Boucher says. "Everybody says that, probably, but the reason we've been around 120 years is because we mean it."