Evolving energy: Gault celebrates 150 years in Westport
Updated 7:04 pm, Wednesday, February 13, 2013
It would be hard for Robert Gault, who built the first iteration of Gault Energy & Stone with a single horse-drawn wagon in 1863, to imagine the fifth generation of his descendants contemplating the use of geothermal energy.
In the past 150 years, Gault Energy & Stone has evolved in its services to the Westport community, from hauling freight in 1863 to providing masonry and energy solutions in the present.
Gault is marking its sesquicentennial this year with a series of events and programs, which include a collaboration with chambers of commerce across Fairfield County to promote family businesses, an online essay contest on the future of energy, and an exhibit about the Gault family at the Westport Historical Society.
"Our roots in the community are deep, and customers like to do business with a company that gives back to the community," said Sam Gault, president of Gault Energy.
Gault employs 105 workers, spread out across its main office in Westport and satellite facilities in Greenwich, Bridgeport and Bethel.
The company's Bethel showroom on Paul Street includes displays for both indoor and outdoor masonry work.
"We're really only as good as the people we have working for us," Gault said. "The team of employees we've had over the years has been extraordinary."
In 1847, Robert Gault was a 12-year old immigrant from Northern Ireland who settled in Westport. Since his initial efforts, the function of the family business he created has evolved over the past century and a half, to accommodate the extensive technological and lifestyle changes that the company has witnessed in its history.
Gault Energy has transitioned from farming to lumber to coal to heating oil, branching out in recent years into masonry services, alternative energy, and real estate with Hamilton Development, its property subsidiary.
Sam Gault cites this adaptability as the reason for the firm's longevity; Gault Energy & Stone is the oldest family-owned energy business in Fairfield County, according to the company.
"I think we've consistently evolved to meet the needs of the community," Gault said. "Our company was able to identify changes and do what's necessary to meet them. If you're going to run and operate a business in the energy field, you're always looking forward to what the next thing customers need is."
In the wake of the recent storms that have flooded the shores of Fairfield County and left residents without power, Gault Energy responded by launching a standby generator division to provide to customers in emergency situations, and is exploring "viable alternative sources" like geothermal power, according to Gault.
"In the area and the region, their reputation is stellar. We're very proud of them and pleased for them."