When Joe LaForce purchased a hardware supply business in downtown Green Bay in 1954, do you think he had any idea it would grow to become one of the largest hardware distributors in the country?
A lot has happened in the 60 years since Joe started this company. LaForce Inc. has gone through changes in name, product and service offerings, technology, and so much more. While LaForce has evolved, so has our industry and, of course, the world in which we live. Through our four part blog series, we’ll take a deeper look at how our company, our industry, and culture have changed over the past 60 years. Let’s start at the beginning.
Joe LaForce’s interest in hardware began in his high school engineering class. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a degree in construction management, Joe LaForce returned to his hometown of Green Bay and became a homebuilder. In 1954, Joe’s interest became his livelihood when he purchased a builders hardware business.
Joe spent the first several years in business strengthening relationships with vendors such as LCN, Schlage, Von Duprin and Drusing and Hunt, the first hollow metal vendor. The 1960s brought new opportunities for LaForce Builders Supply. The business moved into a larger location, and by the end of the decade, LaForce invested in bending and cutting machines to manufacture its own custom frames to better meet customers’ needs.
By the 1970s, the company name had changed to LaForce Hardware & Manufacturing to better reflect the business’s endeavors. The company moved to its present location on West Mason Street in 1972. During this decade, LaForce experienced steady growth and ventured into new markets.
The growth LaForce has experienced since the mid-1980s can be described in one word – exponential. In the past thirty years, LaForce Inc. has added 10 branch locations and has gone from about 25 employees to over 450.
Check out our next blog in this series to learn about how LaForce achieved such phenomenal growth.