Companies don’t become cohesive by accident. Though, in the case of Kittredge Equipment Company, it’s really in our DNA.
As of 2021, our company can trace its roots back 100 years. In preparing for such a milestone anniversary, we reached out to the children of Ralph Webber, and Sid and George Kittredge, each of whom used to be a part of the business before my late husband Neal bought it in the 1990s.
The Kittredge family was known for their relentless work ethic and passionate approach to the business but at the end of the day, they would go home and still love each other.
Naturally, there were funny stories from the early days about keeping cash in the oven at night when closing the store. There were also stories about dining out as a family at customers’ restaurants and receiving the rock-star treatment from the owners. Often they had to “visit a guy” or “check on a place” while on a family outing.
In talking with family members about what the business was like way back when, it became readily apparent that Kittredge still embraces many of the same attributes today. Honesty. Integrity. Treating customers the same way you would treat your own family members and co-workers. Their success continues to be our success.
These stories further underscore the simple fact that this business rests on a foundation of relationships, core values and integrity. The founders of this company held their heads up high and treated everyone like they were important. My husband proudly carried that torch during his tenure, and it remains something we do to this day.
When this company got its start back in 1921 it was not necessarily in foodservice equipment or anything related to the industry. Back in the 1920s, shopkeepers sold whatever they could sell, and it often took a while for their businesses to take shape. And that’s the way this business was. But it was those customer relationships that led founder Max Kittredge and his sons into the foodservice industry.
Those relationships and our cohesiveness as a company represent two aspects of the business that make us most proud and resilient. It’s remarkable what we’ve been able to weather together. When my husband got sick fifteen years ago, everyone pitched in to help. Nobody said it’s not my job. People just picked up the slack and that’s just the way our employees have always done it. That cohesiveness paid dividends when it came to weathering the financial crisis of 2008. And now, in the face of the myriad of challenges brought forth by COVID, that cohesiveness allows us to adapt and overcome.
This cohesive approach extends beyond the office walls, too. We take the same approach in working with our clients. We collaborate, pushing one another to think outside the box, adapt, innovate and provide for our customers.
As we look ahead to the future, this is both an exciting and scary time. With all the changes that are coming we almost feel like beginners again. We have to bring along what we know will be successful, understand what our safety nets are and then embrace the challenges of the future.
There’s great possibility ahead, something I am sure Max recognized when he got his start many years ago.