Ritchie & Sons History

Following Ralph E. Ritchie’s stint in the Navy during World War II he returned home to his wife, Betty with a child on the way.

He worked at Coca-Cola packing bottles into six packs then moved on to work for a big tanning company in Peabody, Massachusetts sorting leather. Neither of these positions were very satisfying which prompted him to apply for a sales position with City Service, a company that distributed waxes and oils. Ralph was very successful and he felt that his future was in sales.

In 1960, Ralph answered an advertisement by Engel Industries, a manufacturer of HVAC equipment, for a Northeast sales distributor. In exchange for $10,000, his entire savings at that time, he received equipment for a showroom. He rented space in South Lynnfield, Massachusetts, set up his showroom, and traveled throughout New England taking orders under the name of Ralph E. Ritchie, Co.

Sales were very difficult to come by. At this time, much of the ductwork that was manufactured was done by hand. Purchasing an Engel machine was expensive and there was a fear that workers would be replaced by machines. After months of no sales, oftentimes being thrown out of offices, Ralph met an employee from Cox Engineering named Charlie Touchette. Cox Engineering was the only company at the time that had purchased any automated ductwork equipment. After watching Charlie operate the Shopmaster for only a few minutes, Ralph knew how he could sell this product. Charlie was able to produce ductwork three times faster than any other method to date. Ralph’s sales pitch was to challenge business owners to take any job, divide it in half, let his worker produce that job and he guaranteed that he could produce the same amount of ductwork in half the time. He would set up demonstrations on Saturdays with Charlie running the machine for prospective customers. Soon after, Ralph produced a movie that he could take with him on his calls so the Saturday demos were no longer necessary. The movie was so successful that Engel purchased it and distributed it to all of their other sales reps. Meeting Charlie helped to propel Ralph into his lifelong career and the rest, as they say, is history. By 1975, Ralph’s three sons, Ralph Jr, Bob & Don Sr, had joined the company.

After 59 years in business, partners Don Ritchie Sr, Brian Ritchie and Jon Way, are joined by Ralph’s grandson Donald Ritchie Jr, salesman Nick Way, and loyal office and service personnel who have been with the company for many years.