123 Years and Counting
Belletetes Inc. keeps the family business relevant and thriving
Belletetes Inc. was founded by Elie Belletete in 1898. Elie worked by day in the textile industry and in the evenings and on the weekends as a barber cutting hair. After saving $500, Elie went into business for himself, establishing a general store in his hometown of Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
Over time, sons Homer and Reynold came to work for Elie, and the company continued to evolve as the needs of the community changed. In response to the housing boom following World War II, Belletetes began carrying more lumber and other building materials. In the early 1970s, the company acquired Cheney Lumber in Winchendon, Massachusetts. “We’ve grown over the last 40 years through similar acquisitions. They’ve allowed us to expand our presence in the region to better serve our customers and offer our employees more opportunity,” explains fourth-generation Belletete, Mike Shea, who serves as President and CEO.
Currently, Belletetes has nine locations that serve Southern and Central New Hampshire, as well as North Central Massachusetts. “Aside from our core market area, we’ve been fortunate to be involved in building projects all over New England,” Mike says.
“Today, we are a one-stop shop for anything to do with building,” says Purchasing Manager Sara Belletete, who is also a member of the fourth generation. Belletetes’ team of building specialists serve commercial, contractor and residential customers, providing estimating services and expert guidance on product selection. The company’s product offerings include lumber, roofing, decking, siding, drywall and other building materials, as well as residential and commercial windows, doors and hardware.
Not Your Typical Big Box
Belletetes differentiates its firm from typical home improvement companies by keeping its services and project selection focused on its specific clientele. “We’ve always been about serving our customers and communities, providing them with the goods and services they’re looking for,” Sara says. The company’s fleet of 60 vehicles delivers materials to customers when and where they need them.
Mike says that another differentiator is the firm’s penchant for quality products. “We choose products that have a proven track record of reliability,” Mike says.
“Every product comes through our centralized purchasing department where we perform an in-depth analysis to make sure we’re offering high quality products,” Sara adds. “No one wants a call that a material has failed. If we are putting quality products out there, we don’t have to worry about that.”
Opportunities for Employee Advancement
Mike says Belletetes is a growing company, providing opportunities for employees to advance in their careers.
It is something Sara has witnessed firsthand. “Another one of our purchasing managers, Cory, started in the millwork shop. He went on to advance to the warehouse, lumber counter and the receiving department before being promoted into his current position,” she says. “We give employees opportunities to excel, and we promote from within.”
The longevity of employees at Belletetes—some who have been with the company for over 40 years—speaks to the success of the company culture. “We make sure employees are as comfortable coming to Mike or me with their problems as they are coming to their regular supervisor,” Sara says. Fostering that type of company culture not only creates loyal, happy employees, it also makes for satisfied customers.
From a Napkin to a Project
Belletetes has many devoted, longtime customers, according to Sara. “My sisters and I started helping out here when we were 12 or 13, and I officially started as a hardware clerk when I was 14 years old. I came back to Belletetes several years after college, and even 17 years after returning here as an adult, I still struggle with how to address customers. Mr. Smith will keep reminding me to call him John, but to me, he’s still Mr. Smith who I knew when I was a teenager.”
Those customer relationships are built by dedicated employees, Sara says. “We’ll have contractors and homeowners who come in with just a drawing on a napkin. Our team of employees can help to flesh out that initial concept and assist in designing and building that project,” she says. “Customers appreciate that personal touch.”
Tackling Large Commercial Projects
Belletetes’ team of estimators and customer service representatives assist with both small and large construction jobs. One recent project was at TriTown Landing at Lunenburg, an apartment community in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. “We look for opportunities to offer value in a variety of areas, beyond just lumber,” Mike says. “In this case, we provided framing materials, drywall, engineered wood products, roofing, exterior doors and decking.” Belletetes’ team worked closely with the general contractor to supply materials over the life of the project. “There are always a lot of tradespeople on site and a finite amount of space to store materials. We coordinated delivery for each stage of the project so materials would be supplied exactly when needed,” he says.
Belletetes also assisted a longtime customer in the construction of Kellingrove Estate, an exclusive, three-story condominium project in Salem, New Hampshire. “This project required high-end building materials. We worked closely with the contractor to source the architectural product selections, ensuring they met the owner’s objectives,” Mike says. “We have the experts needed for these complex commercial projects.”
Sara notes that Belletetes carries more than 30,000 products and can special order thousands more. “If we do not stock the product you are looking for, we can certainly research and try to order it for you,” Sara says.
“We are always finding new ways to better supply and support our customers,” Mike adds. “We are constantly updating and reinvesting in our facilities and equipment. Our fleet of delivery vehicles is well maintained and in great shape, and our stores are neat, clean and well organized so products are easy to find.”
Mike says that what makes Belletetes special is how the company’s team of 300 employees work together for a common goal. “Estimating, sales, delivery and other departments come together to help customers and make projects successful. That’s how we can easily tackle these large projects. And it is why customers keep coming back,” he says.
Like Sara, Mike learned the business from the ground up. “Mike started out working in the yard, putting loads together,” she says.
Though Mike may spend his days managing the operations of Belletetes, he relishes the opportunity to get outside and work with the building materials sold by the company. “We host a community outreach day, called We Build It Forward, where we gather volunteers and employees to complete home improvement projects for elderly, disabled or low- income members of our community,” he says.
“We replace roofs, build Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible ramps, paint and complete repairs. It’s amazing the number of people who choose to help, and it’s an awesome feeling at the end of the day to know that you’ve helped someone in need,” Sara says.
While Sara helps by serving food for volunteers and getting product to various projects, Mike prefers to don his toolbelt and fire up the power tools! For Sara, at its core, Belletetes is 100 percent service driven. “We’re all about working together to help people out—whether that’s giving an employee time off, walking a customer through the design of a project or providing fast delivery on thousands of high-quality materials. When we work together, we’re successful.”