Over 70 Years of Service
Like so many young men of his generation, James Benedict Hand left school early to help support his family, so it seems fitting that that the business he started in 1943 survives today as a family enterprise.
He started J.B. HAND & COMPANY, a tobacco and confectionery business, at the age of 28 and ran it by himself from a rented building on the corner of Water and Waldegrave. By 1948 he had caught the attention of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, one of the largest tobacco companies in the world at the time and makers of Camels, Winston, Newport and Lucky Strike. He had outsold older, more established dealers in the area and was invited down to their headquarters in North Carolina to be made the exclusive RJR representative in Newfoundland, a position he held for 15 years.
Over the next ten years J. B. Hand & Company expanded sales service across the Avalon Peninsula and to Bell Island, had a fleet of five delivery vans and used rail and air to send product to further points on the island. However in March of 1959 a large fire next door destroyed the Waldegrave building and cost $100,000 in damage and losses. Not to be deterred, JB worked out of his home on Springdale Street for almost 2 years while he renovated a new building on Queen Street.
The new location, the Morris Building, which is currently a Newfoundland Liquor Store, opened in January of 1961 and was said to be “one of the most modern wholesale warehouses this side of Montreal” by the Daily News, with warehouse storage in the basement, a bonded tobacco room and a display showroom and offices on the main level.
In 1984, J.B. HAND & COMPANY officially became J.B. HAND & SONS LTD. and moved into its current home on Topsail Road, as it had grown to require a larger warehouse by expanding the inventory to include corner store staples such as beverages, pet food, cleaning supplies and small electronics.
In the last decade the company has introduced frozen food and deli departments and has expanded into the food service industry for various bakeries, restaurants and institutions around the province. As it approaches its 75th year in business J.B. Hand & Sons Ltd. will continue to find new ways to service its customers, always with the focus on quality products and customer satisfaction.