This past May, Jeff and Nancy Hagstrom celebrated 20 years as owners of Newton Business. Jeff says the company itself dates back to the 1950s, when Fred Newton “sold and repaired business equipment right out of his house on Route 30.” He’s not exactly sure when Fred sold it to Bob Parro, but he knew why he and Nancy bought it in 1989. They were making a choice to live where they wanted to live and to take control of their professional lives.
“When Jeff brought me up to meet his family in New Hampshire, I fell in love with New England,” says Nancy, who originally hails from Ohio and met Jeff at IU in Bloomington, Indiana. After an interim stop in Pennsylvania, Jeff took a job with Chomerics in Brattleboro, which was later AMP Inc. Nancy, a teacher by trade, continued to substitute while raising their three children: Julia, Nathan and Josh.
Jeff’s stint in what he calls the “corporate culture” came to an end when the company he worked for was bought by a competitor. The offices would be moved to the southern part of the U.S. as part of the sale. The Hagstroms decided to stay in Vermont and looked around for a business to buy. “Our consultants at the time led us to believe [Newton] was a good viable business to jump into — which it was; so we jumped into the pond,” says Jeff.
During their tenure, Newton Business has survived the ups and downs of the local and global economy plus the advent of office supply chain stores and online ordering. The Hagstroms have expanded the enterprise into what Jeff describes as “three and-a-half businesses”; the three being office supply sales, office machine sales and service, and a business interior design and furnishing service; the half being a local supplier and engraver of trophies and plaques. Their daughter, Julia, is part owner and works in the Brattleboro location while Nancy also owns a business interiors dealership in Hartford, Connecticut, managed by their younger son, Josh. (Nathan, who also lives in Hartford, is a pediatric oncologist.) BMH
When asked about the longevity of Newton Business, the Hagstroms credit the Brattleboro mind-set of supporting independent, local businesses. That mind-set is equally on display in how the Brattleboro merchants rally around civic organizations like Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. The Hagstroms show their support in several ways, from making contributions to the hospital’s annual fund and capital campaign to sitting on committees and helping with fundraising efforts. Both of the Hagstroms are also corporators of BMH.
“You have to respect the quality of a hospital and its physicians, but you also have to feel like it truly cares. And this one does,” Nancy says. “If their attitude wasn’t like that I don’t think they would get the kind of support from all of us that they do. We’ve both lost our parents and I’ve lost my brother, so we’ve both been in a lot of hospitals. There’s definitely an aura when you walk into a health care facility and you’re already scared. What they do over at BMH is make you feel less scared because you are in competent and caring hands.”
Nancy found herself getting a patient’s-eye view of hospital care following a horseback riding accident this past summer. “I broke my hip and few ribs were cracked, so I had surgery and was at BMH three or four days,” she recalls. “The level of care was incredible. They were right there making sure you were comfortable. There was compassion and laughter.”