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Mss:605 1780-1984 H613

A.H. Hews and Company, Inc./Lockwood Products, Inc. A.H. Hews and Company, Inc./Lockwood Products, Inc. Records, 1780-1995 (inclusive), bulk (1920-1939): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

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Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:605 1780-1984 H613
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: A. H. Hews and Company, Inc.
Creator: Lockwood Products, Inc.
Title: A.H. Hews and Company, Inc./Lockwood Products, Inc. records
Date(s): 1780-1995 (inclusive)
Date(s): bulk (1920-1939)
Quantity: 4 linear feet (3 cartons, 1 volume)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The records of A. H. Hews and Company and its successor company, Lockwood Products, Inc. cover the period of its beginning in the eighteenth century until the mid-1990s. The records in this collection document early examples of products manufactured - Hews invented the stacking flower pot in 1888 - and sold by a company which remained in the same family for four generations

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The volume was donated to Harvard Business School on September 26, 1938 by the Business Historical Society who received the account book from Dunbar Lockwood, Sr., president of A. H. Hews and Company, Inc. The remainder of materials were donated in June 1995 by Douglas J. Deiterson, president of successor firm, Lockwood Products, Inc.

Processing Information:

Processed: June 1995 By: Carole Foster
This collection consisted of one large carton received in 1995 and one volume, received in 1938. The materials were consequently arranged into six distinct record groups reflecting company name changes with oversize materials stored separately.

Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is open for access. Materials stored offsite. Please contact histcollref@hbs.edu for more information

Preferred Citation:

A.H. Hews and Company, Inc./Lockwood Products, Inc. Records, Baker Library, Harvard Business School.

Biographical / Historical

Family tradition says Abraham Hews started a pottery works making household crocks and jugs from his home in Weston, Massachusetts in 1765 using clay imported from Cambridge, Massachusetts. As successive generations entered the business, the company name changed to Abraham Hews & Sons, then later to Abram Hews' Sons. In 1869, when Abram Hews' Sons closed, Horatio Hews & Son opened and they are credited with introducing machine-made flower pots to the public. Until 1865, all clay pots were handmade, but in the late 1860s, Hews purchased two pottery making machines and exclusive New England distribution rights from William Linton, inventor of the machine patented in 1865. At the same time, Hews built a brand-new factory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, adjacent to the only remaining clay pit in that city.
By 1872, Horatio Hews became A. H. Hews & Company and during the late nineteenth century expanded their product line to jardinières, cuspidors, umbrella stands, jars, pigeon nests, bean pots and their most famous and profitable item - the stacking shoulder flower pot they introduced in 1888. With little competition in the New England states, Hews maintained a strong leadership position in the pottery and florist supply business throughout the nineteenth century.
The twentieth century brought changes. The last Hews family member - A. H. Hews, great grandson of the founding Hews - to guide the company died in 1903; his heirs incorporated the company and, although they owned the majority of the stock, hired professional managers to take care of day-to-day decisions. In 1921, Dunbar Lockwood, Sr. purchased stock from company president Philip Cabot and joined the company as treasurer. In August 1930, a fire destroyed the landmark factory on Riverview Street, Cambridge, and a new plant was constructed nearby on Sherman Street. With the retirement of Philip Cabot in 1935, Mr. Lockwood rose to president. Although the economic upheavals of the Depression years and labor shortages during World War II did not bypass the company, Hews enjoyed a solid profit margin due to its premier status in New England. Pottery sales was historically a regional business at this time because breakage problems prevented clay products from being shipped great distances.
During the 1950s, the introduction of plastic horticultural items began. Originally Hews purchased plastic flower pots through a subsidiary, Milton Company, run by Dunbar Lockwood, Jr. Although the florist and greenhouse trade was initially reluctant to make the switch to plastic, by the end of the decade, both Lockwood Sr. and Jr. foresaw the growth potential in this product and decided to focus on expanding the line of plastic goods. Lockwood, Sr. sold the remaining assets of Hews's clay pottery business in 1959 to Keller-Whilldin Potting Company, a competitor based in Pennsylvania.
Named Lockwood Plastics, this new company was formed and incorporated by Dunbar Lockwood, Sr. to manufacture and market its own line of plastic flower pots, flats and planters. A. H. Hews and Company, Inc. purchased plastic goods from a supplier in Leominster who went bankrupt, but the Lockwoods wanted to control all phases of the business so they leased manufacturing space in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and commenced their own production line. Eventually the growth of the company was successful enough for the company to break ground for its own facility in Leominster, Massachusetts, in March 1965. However, the Lockwoods themselves continued to maintain their corporate offices at the old Hews site at 80 Sherman Street, Cambridge, and Lockwood, Sr., died in this office in April 1967 of a coronary heart attack. Lockwood, Jr. inherited Lockwood Plastics upon his father's death.
By 1972, Lockwood Plastics, had grown to be $8 million dollar business with national distribution of all its products and enjoyed a position as the country's largest manufacturer of plastic flower pots and horticultural containers. Continued success caused Lockwood, Jr., now president and majority stockholder, to expand the company. He acquired all the assets of Hefner Plastics, Inc., a Texas plastics molding operation, and opened new facilities in Toledo, Ohio and New London, Texas, to expand output. Unfortunately, the expansions coincided with the 1974 Arab oil embargo which curtailed the availability of the polystyrene resin used throughout the company's product line. Lockwood's prices reflected its quality product, and the entry of a Canadian company into the horticultural market to fill market demands unable to be met by American companies provided formidable competition. Lockwood Plastics refused to meet competitive prices; consequently they lost business.
In an effort to turn its business around, the Texas and Ohio facilities were sold in 1978 and 1979 and the headquarters in Cambridge closed in 1980 and moved into a trailer at the Leominster site. In addition, Lockwood tried to sell directly to retailers and utilized the less expensive polypropylene in many of its products. Unfortunately, these decisions did not propel the company to its former status and by the late 1970s, the company, renamed Lockwood Products in 1975 to reflect its diversification, was losing several thousand dollars per year. Mr. Lockwood thought seriously about closing the company; however, a buyer appeared in the form of Harvard Business School graduate Douglas J. Detweiler who purchased the company in 1981.

Scope and Contents

The records of A. H. Hews and Company and its successor company, Lockwood Products, Inc. cover the period of its beginning in the eighteenth century until the mid-1990s. The bulk of these material fall during the 1920s -1930s when the company was called A. H. Hews and Company, Inc.
The records document early examples of products manufactured - Hews invented the stacking flower pot in 1888 - and sold by a company which remained in the same family for four generations. They also document the changing tastes of pottery from nineteenth century to the post World War II years and the emergence of plastic flower pots in the 1950s and 1960s. Of particular interest are the price lists and catalogues with illustrations of the wide variety of products bearing the Hews and Lockwood imprints. Also of interest is the account book showing the names and amount of sale of early customers while the pottery business was located in Weston, Massachusetts.
Materials in the collection include minutes, catalogues, price lists, calendars, bills, office forms, the company seal, newspaper clippings, account books, sales brochures, checkbooks, coupon notes, photographs, trustees' notebooks, charts, advertisements, stock certificates, articles, financial records, patent information, and correspondence.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Barter accounting.
Clay industries
Pottery -- Massachusetts -- 18th Century
Weston (Mass.)

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