New Ferguson Heritage Center tells story of distributor’s long history
Ferguson Enterprises is putting its rich history on full display.
The Newport News, Va.-based company, ranked No. 1 in the 2016 Supply House Times Premier 150 list of top distributors, recently opened its Heritage Center, which honors the company’s 63-year history.
The Heritage Center is located in the David L. Peebles building (named in honor of the former Ferguson CEO), which was the original headquarters building on the Ferguson campus. The Peebles building previously housed a Ferguson showroom and counter. The showroom has since moved to another area on campus, while the counter operation remains.
“When we moved the showroom we asked ourselves what should we do with the space,” Ferguson CEO Frank Roach told Supply House Times. “Space and history converged. It was like it was meant to be. We’re very excited about being able to put our story in the building where it all started.”
Roach hesitates to use the word museum when describing the Heritage Center. “It’s less of a museum and more of a functional space that tells our story,” he said. “We didn’t want it to be a walk down memory lane. We did want it to serve as a reminder of our associates and our history and the connection of that history to the present and future. We wanted a venue where we could share our story with customers and vendors and the community we serve. The space speaks to who we are as a company. It’s about outstanding associates committed to growth and improvement by possessing an unrelenting desire and passion to create the best experience for our customers. This space does that very well.”
Ferguson hired a company called The History Factory, which specializes in preserving historical artifacts and telling company back-stories. Between historical items that had been stored in a locked company archive room and the call to arms for longtime Ferguson associates to share their company mementos, The History Factory had plenty to work with.
“We were able to get signage, old articles, paper inventory, you name it,” Ferguson Public Relations Senior Manager Christine Dwyer said. “Our people bleed blue. They stay here for years. The objective was how can we talk about where we came from and where we are going and utilize this archive we had sitting in that room.”
The lobby of the Heritage Center was restored to its original state when it acted as the company headquarters right down to several of Peebles’ personal touches related to his owning an antique store. Galleries cover past Ferguson CEOs, various inflection points in Ferguson history, as well as the company’s longstanding philanthropic efforts. An associates’ gallery features the stories of 33 Ferguson associates. Other areas highlight the many awards the company has received (including three Supply House Times Supply House of the Year honors) and the acquisitions it has made over the years. Two interactive touchscreens further bring the company’s history to life.
“It’s exciting to have the new showroom and now the Heritage Center and to bring visitors on campus and show both areas,” said Dwyer. “The showroom is where we are headed and the Heritage Center preserves where we’ve been.”
Roach, who started with the company in 1976, is particularly fond of the lobby area. “It looks exactly like it was in 1976 when I came to interview with David,” he said. “But I love seeing all the faces and reminders of our folks and what we’ve done. This building captures the inflection points and the transformational points of who we are. We’ve been in business 63 years and we’re a different company each year. It’s a great connection between the past and future and it reminds us change always is part of what we do.”