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Kibby Equipment Inc. to Close After 60 Years in Business

  • Bill Shambo Sr., right, tells Travis Wright on Aug. 31, 2017, that Kibby Equipment Inc. will be closing at the end of September after Shambo and his family ran the White River Junction, Vt., business for 60 years. Wright, who works for the State of New Hampshire Department of Transportation garage in Enfield, N.H., had picked up a part for a salt spreader. "They've always been good," Wright said of the business. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Kibby Equipment Inc. clerk Roger Gillies looks up a part number at the White River Junction, Vt., business on Aug. 31, 2017. Gillies has been working at Kibby for 40 years, where they never switched to a computer system. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Phyllis and Bill Shambo Sr. talk in the office at Kibby Equipment in White River Junction, Vt., on Aug. 31, 2017. Phyllis, 80, and Bill, 85, have owned the business for 60 years, the same amount of time they have been married. The business will be closing at the end of September. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Once its inventory has been sold, Kibby Equipment Inc.'s buildings and property will be for sale after the White River Junction, Vt., business on Route 4 closes at the end of September. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Steve Davis, left, speaks with Bill Shambo Sr. and his son Bill Shambo Jr. after purchasing a pallet jacker at Kibby Equipment Inc., in White River Junction, Vt., on Aug. 31, 2017. Davis, who owns Vermod Homes in Wilder, Vt., and several apartment buildings, stops by often for tools, nuts and bolts. "It's just handy," Davis said. "Bill doesn't buy junk." (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Sunday, September 03, 2017

White River Junction — Phyllis and William Shambo have owned Kibby Equipment Inc. since 1985, but their connection to the municipal and construction supplies company goes back much further.

William Shambo Sr. started there as a parts salesman in 1957, just after Gil Kibby founded the company. When Kibby died, in 1985, Shambo and his wife purchased the business.

Much has changed since then — the economy, the competition, what customers want to buy and, not least, what the Shambos want to do now that he’s 85 and she’s 80. So, on Sept. 15, after 60 years in business, Kibby Equipment will close its doors for good.

“We’re selling what we think is a good product, it’s just that everything has changed,” Phyllis Shambo said in an interview last week.

The Shambos knew early on that they were committed to selling only high-quality, American-made products. They were not willing to compromise on that, even as some turned to cheaper, foreign-made products. Her husband decided not to go that route “because he believed that what we were doing was good,” Phyllis Shambo said. They also were not interesting in selling online, which more buyers were demanding.

Steve Davis, owner of Vermod Homes in Wilder and several apartment buildings, was at the 87 Maple St. store on Thursday after purchasing a pallet jacker there. A regular customer, Davis said he stops by often for tools, nuts and bolts. “It’s just handy,” Davis said. “Bill doesn’t buy junk.”

Another customer, Travis Wright, who works for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation garage in Enfield, was there to pick up a part for a salt spreader when he heard the store was closing. “They’ve always been good,” Wright said.

Business at Kibby Equipment has slowed, particularly in the past three years. Phyllis Shambo said people have increasingly turned to lower-price options at chain stores.

“People used to really want something that they could keep for years,” she said. “Now, it’s almost like a throw-away society. You can’t buy a product at Home Depot and take it back to get it repaired.”

Selling parts for repairs used to be a large component of the business, but people now are more likely to replace equipment than repair it. “It’s completely different today,” Shambo said.

In addition, there has been less demand for construction equipment overall, Shambo said. Kibby Equipment traditionally served construction companies, loggers, landscape companies and other tradespeople who simply don’t operate at the same capacity today.

“So many people have stopped working in construction and closed their companies in the past three years,” Shambo said. “We’ve lost accounts.”

The Shambos initially wanted to sell the company but could not find a buyer. Now they plan to clear their inventory through closing sales and eventually sell the building, located across the street from the Hartford Municipal Building.

“We couldn’t sell the whole package,” Shambo said. “There aren’t buyers that want to buy a business like this.”

In addition to the Shambos, Kibby Equipment has two other full-time employees: their son William Jr. and Roger Gillies, who has worked there for 40 years. The employees will be looking for new jobs, while the Shambos plan to retire and enjoy time with family in their Hartford home.

Phyllis Shambo said that, while the decision to close Kibby Equipment was an emotional one at first, she is looking forward to leaving the stress of the business behind. She said her husband regularly works 10-hour days while she spends about three hours a day in the office doing the books — on paper, the company never switched to a computer system — so the change of pace will be a welcome relief.

“You don’t think of it being stressful but it is because if you’re not doing as well as you have been doing for years it makes you wonder what you’re doing wrong,” she said. “We maybe should have done this a few years ago, but we kept thinking things would get better. That wasn’t meant to be.”