Our History

 

 

                                        A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE

           TORNO LUMBER & HARDWARE COMPANY

 

 

Torno  Lumber  and Hardware Inc. is a three-quarters of an acre lumber yard  founded in  1947  by  William  H.  Torno,  Bill was an  industrial arts teacher in the Westport school system, who foresaw  the  post World War II building boom.  The company was originally named Torno and Donnaher. This partnership did not last, however, since reputedly, each night,   Donnaher and Torno  rushed to be first to get to  the cigar box holding the days receipts. Donnaher sold his interest to Torno before the end of the first year of operation.

 

The main  building,  which  Bill  Torno  converted to its current use as a retail  store, may, some  day,  because of its  breathtakng beauty,    be  rededicated  as  a  national  historic preservation monument,  This frame building  was originally an auto garage, and the mechanic’s bays became the first storage bins.

 

As the new housing boom of the 1950’s matured, Bill  correctly sensed the  coming  do-it-yourself movement  of the 1960’s, and he successfully positioned  his business to take advantage of  changing economic conditions.  One of Torno’s  Westport competitor yards followed suit and also survived the end of the post war housing boom.  Two additional yards  were not so foresighted.  Business  grew steadily until Bill Torno retired in 1969 and sold

his business to Robert E.  Kelley,  a steel importer and building   materials wholesaler.

 

Due to health setbacks and less than wise employee choices, Kelley’s term at the helm of Torno Lumber was marked by steady decline.  In November of 1972, Mr. Kelley sold his interest in Torno Lumber  to Robert A.  Kelly, no relation, and the business has been under his direction since then. 

 

In 1972,  about 2,000 square feet of  the main building was used as store and the total  volume  of  sales  for  both the hardware store and lumber yard was approximately  $500,000. By the end of the 1970’s the changing demographics of the Town of Westport  indicated that increasingly, construction in Westport would be undertaken by professionals.  While Torno’s customer mix is about fifty percent homeowners and fifty percent builders, professional builders  now account for more than eighty percent of Torno’s business. The  last of Torno’s post war lumber yard competitors failed to make this transition, and closed it’s doors in the early 1990’s..   The  main building’s store floor area has been increased to  approximately  8,000  square feet, and total sales have increased by a factor  of  more than ten  times 1972 sales. In 1992 the hardware store activities were moved  approximately 200 feet to 800 Post Road  The new facility is a 10,000 square foot two-story masonry building.

 

The  growth and success of Torno Lumber & Hardware has been due primarily  to the good fortune of its geographic location,  and to the efforts and  the growth in knowledge of its employees. There appears to be no reason to believe that continued success will not also depend on Torno's most important assets -- its employees!