Company History

Founded in 1854

In 1854 brothers Noah Merrill Mathews and Spencer Walcott Mathews began a partnership in a window sash and millworks company – called the N.M. & S.W. Mathews Company. In 1860 brother Sanford Hills Mathews joins the family business and the name is changed to Mathews & Co. By 1872, the brothers had expanded the products manufactured by Mathews & Co. to include doors, window sashes, blinds, shutters, window and door frames. On August 24, 1873, the company lost its storehouse on Front Street to the Great Fire of Belfast. The company reopened 70 days later at the corner of Cross and Miller streets as Mathews Brothers Company.

By 1899, after the deaths of Noah, Spencer and Sanford, the company officers are made up of Clara Starrett Mathews, president; Addie Richmond Mathews, vice-president; Maude Elizabeth Mathews, treasurer; and Orlando Ephraim Frost, superintendent.

Of the officers, Maude, pictured above, tended to be the most involved in the company. At this time it was the largest Maine business owned by women.

In 1904 Orlando E. Frost assumes control of Mathews Brothers Company and adds spiral staircases and coffins to the company’s product line. Frost begins Mathews Brothers long standing tradition of community involvement with his commitment to the Waldo County General Hospital.

 

In 1906, Frost expands the company by building a warehouse on Front Street.

In late 1916 early 1917, Frost takes a contract to build a 5-masted schooner named the Jennie Flood Kreger. The keel was laid and construction started in early 1917.

Mathews Brothers Company completes the construction and launch of the Jennie Flood Kreger in 1919 [March 5]. It was the largest vessel and the only 5-masted schooner to be built in Belfast, Maine.

Almost a decade later, Copeland Lang buys Mathews Brothers Company from O.E. Frost in 1928. Stock company formed and incorporated.

In 1946 Copeland Lang sells the company to his son Charles Lang and son-in-law Roger Haddock; with Roger becoming the next president and Charles assuming the role of treasurer. Charles becomes president only six years later after the early-and-untimely death of Roger.

 

In 1970 Mathews Brothers Company begins building insulated wood windows, an innovation to the shop grade wood windows.

A new era in Mathews Brothers Company is signified by the opening of the Belfast Factory Outlet, jump starting the retail division in 1977.

In 1978, Peter Haddock, son of Roger Haddock, and John Hawthorne buy Mathews Brothers Company from Charles Lang. Peter becomes the new president, and John becomes vice-president of operations.

Mathews Brothers begins manufacturing its own insulated glass and the Rockland Factory Outlet opens on Rankin Street in 1981.

Mathews Brothers Company builds a new retail store and warehouse on the corner of Cross and Spring streets in downtown Belfast in 1985. At the same time Scott Hawthorne, John’s son, joins the Mathews Brothers family.

 

In 1986, John Hawthorne buys Mathews Brothers from Peter Haddock and the two men were honored by the City of Belfast as businessmen of the year.

The third of Mathews Brothers retail stores open in Bangor in 1988. Also John makes Scott Hawthorne a minority partner in the company.

John Hawthorne purchases former Truitt Brothers plant on Perkins Road in 1989.  Two years later the company moves to the new factory facilities vacating the old factory on Cross & Miller Street that has been used for over 100 years. That same year John Hawthorne, acting president; Peter Haddock, treasurer; and Mathews Brothers Company were featured on the cover of Business Digest for the month of June.

In 1994, Mathews Brothers Company reaches 140 years in age, and celebrates by winning the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence. Introduced this year was the vinyl welding and cleaning system which they continue to use today. Corporate officers include John Hawthorne, president; Scott Hawthorne, vice-president; Peter Haddock, treasurer.

In 1998, John Hawthorne retires as president and steps down to chairman, making Scott Hawthorne the acting president of Mathews Brothers Company.

Mathews Brothers launches its Acadia Windows line, which uses closed cell PVC composite.

In 2000 and 2001, Mathews Brothers joins the American Window Alliance (AWA), then wins its first national industry award for small business marketing programs by Window & Door magazine presented to members of American Window Alliance. Additionally, Mathews Brothers was a featured company in Alice H. Anderson’s Company Secrets published in 2001.

 

New products and features . . .                        

Mathews Brothers vinyl products line introduces its first bending and architectural features (e.g., eyebrows and octagons) in 2002. In that same year Scott Hawthorne is elected president of the American Window Alliance, and Mathews Brothers kicks off its new wellness program to employees. During 2003 Mathews Brothers wins the Governor’s Award for Physical Fitness, Health & Wellness for its corporate health and wellness program.

In 2004 Mathews Brothers introduces its first Patio Door and adds painted exterior options to its vinyl line of products. Mathews Brothers turns 150 years old this year marking a large milestone by celebrating with a big party held on the mill premises. In addition, Scott Hawthorne presents the wellness program at the Second National Prevention of Heart Disease and Stroke Convention in Atlanta, GA.

During 2005 and 2006 Mathews Brothers adds several new lines of vinyl and composite windows to its catalog: the (now obsolete) Series 100 economy line of standard size single hung and horizontal sliders, known as Builder’s Pride vinyl windows, and the new MikronWood™ products (later re-branded as the “Noah Merrill”), featuring paintable/stainable pine interiors.

A major milestone was observed in 2006 when Kyle Hawthorne, the first member of the third generation of the Hawthorne family, joined the company on a permanent basis. Kyle, his brother, Alex, and sister, Lisa had previously held summer jobs with the company during their school years. Kyle started his employment in the maintenance department, and moved to the retail sales division in 2007.

Topping the company news in 2007 – in June a very successful month-long employee fundraiser was held to purchase phone cards for Maine soldiers deployed in Iraq. Mathews Brothers hosted the American Window Alliance group meeting in July, which was attended by all nine AWA companies.

 

Inspired by the unconventional wisdom of “If it ain’t broke… break it!”, Mathews Brothers began a redefinition of its business model in 2008, beginning with the closing of its three retail locations. While this had a negative impact on sales, it allowed the company to completely focus on manufacturing and distribution. Also in 2008, the company was awarded the Statewide Historic Preservation Award for Excellence in Crafts and Trades.

During October Mathews personnel participated in the Gubernatorial Trade Mission that traveled to Korea and Japan; and in November they were chosen as the Business of the Year by the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce,

In 2009, Mathews Brothers began a wholesale re-branding initiative, designed to make the Mathews Brothers name more well-known. The vision was to go back to the company’s roots, to convey the strength and resiliancy of the company – the fact that we had survived the Civil War, two World Wars, two Depressions and more – and renamed our product lines after the founders and leaders of Mathews Brothers over the years. And so were born the Spencer Walcott family of products, the Noah Merrill series, the Clara Starrett series and the O.E. Frost Collection.

In 2010, Mathews Brothers received the Maine MEP Manufacturing Excellence Award, for our cutting edge management and production techniques, cost controls, improved production efficiency, quality and on-time delivery.

In October, 2010, Mathews Brothers welcomed Maine’s Governor Baldacci to the launch of our newest product family, the Clara Starrett, that was designed to meet the Department of Energy’s stringent R5 requirements. Also in attendance were David Petratis, President of Quanex Building Products, members of the local press and industry media.

The product line would be brought to market in 2011 under the leadership of Product Manager Kyle Hawthorne, who was then working in the Purchasing Department. Also involved in the commercialization of the Starrett series would be Alex Hawthorne, Kyle’s younger brother, who joined the company on a permanent basis, starting immediately in production.

Also in 2011, Mathews Brothers was featured in an article in Window and Door , the industry’s premier magazine. Later that year, in March, the company welcomed Senator Olympia Snowe for a tour of the facilities.

Finally in June, 2011, Mathews Brothers joined a select few companies nationally when it received the OSHA-SHARP designation, for its efforts in providing a safe and healthy work environment. This award is given to private sector employers that take a proactive approach to workplace safety and is granted to companies who have demonstrated exemplary achievements in workplace safety, health, and health hazards, and by adopting and implementing effective safety and health management systems.

In 2012, the company was once again honored by the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce, when it was named its Large Business of the Year.

In August, 2013, Kyle Hawthorne was promoted to Vice-President of Operations, with responsibility for all production, quality control, delivery and logistics. Also in August, Alex Hawthorne was promoted to Executive Vice-President, in charge of Financial Services and HR.

In the autumn of 2013, Mathews Brothers was one of three Maine businesses to receive the Silver Collar Award from the State Workforce Investment Board for its commitment to hiring and retaining mature employees, capturing their skills and experience, strong work ethic, flexibility and enthusiasm.

Also in September, the company received its second Crystal Achievement Award from the National Glass Association, for Most Innovative Marketing Award, for its series of unique and offbeat radio commercials.

 

As Mathews Brothers closed the doors on a very strong 2013, in 2014 we were met with the tragic loss of both John and Jan Hawthorne. Parents of Scott, and  grand-parents of Kyle and Alex, John and Jan were known and loved by the entire Mathews Brothers family, as well as the greater Belfast area.

Their love of family, their passion for education and their commitment to the community was an inspiration to hundreds, if not thousands, during their lives. As tribute to the positive impact on all they met, Mathews Brothers opened The John G. and Janice H. Hawthorne Center on May 30, 2014. Participating in the opening ceremonies were Scott Hawthorne, Kyle Hawthorne, Alex HawthorneGovernor Paul LePage, and author/talk-show host Howie Carr.

The Hawthorne Center serves several roles for the company. It houses our Marketing, Inside Sales, and Customer Care Departments, serves as a showroom for our products, for the exclusive use of our customers, and also as a state-of-the-art education center.

Also in 2014, Mathews Brothers sponsored the first of many fishing trips with Captain Dave Marciano aboard his tuna boat, the F/V Hard Merchandise. Over the years, many members of the Mathews Brother Nation have seen first hand not only the best fishing Captain in the Gulf of Maine, but they also saw decals of our famous “bug” on the noble vessel, which appears regularly on the National Geographic Channel Show “Wicked Tuna“.

 

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