It all began shortly after World War II, when future founder Leo Castonguay returned from Germany to his hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Eager to close the war chapter of his life and move on to new endeavors, Castonguay moved to New York City in 1951 where he worked as a clothing salesman, a brief prelude for what was to come.
One day, while walking down Barkley Street, which at the time was the hub for church supplies and religious goods, he noticed a storefront sign reading "Now hiring, French speakers only."
The store, Rene Loraine, was the leading importer of French religious art in the late 1950s. Being French/Canadian, Castonguay quickly applied and began his career in the church supplies industry.
For nine years, he worked diligently at the store, learning the ins and outs of the industry.
Eventually, he expressed interest in buying into the business. When the company declined, he decided to venture out on his own.
In 1958, Castonguay moved to Teaneck, New Jersey. Putting his hard-earned skills to use, he began calling on customers from the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania areas.
The Philadelphia Era
Finally, on a visit to Philadelphia, he stumbled across a store for rent on Arch Street, which was the Philadelphia version of New York's Barkley Street. Without hesitation, he signed the lease and got to work. It was at this time that the business officially became Abbott Church Goods, Inc., focusing on the finest statuary, interior appointments and clergy apparel.
During its time in Philadelphia, Abbott became the official supplier for all articles relating to the canonization of Saint John Neumann, as well as the official supplier for the 41 st International
Eucharistic Congress in 1976.
However, after a fire in 1981, Abbott moved to its current location in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Business steadily improved over the next few years as the Cherry Hill location proved to be a success.
A Changing of Hands
Sadly, in 1986, Castonguay suffered a stroke, followed by four years of constant medical attention in a nursing home. It was at this time his son, Daniel, stepped in to take over the business, bringing a whole new set of ideas and a lot of his father's experience. By adopting a customer-oriented focus, Daniel began to widen Abbott's territory from the northeast to the entire east coast. His top priority was, and is, finding ways to better serve the customer. Listening to and acting on clients' needs led to Abbott's rapid expansion via enhanced customer service and faster delivery. In fact, as more positive feedback came rolling in, an addition was added to the Cherry Hill store in order to better serve the customers and improve the overall shopping experience.
At The Forefront
Always focused on the customers, Daniel is constantly bringing in new products and adopting new service ideas to improve the business. Keeping up with the rapid pace of technology, Abbott dives into the future with the advent of the Internet. Having a presence on the Web since 1994 and a complete e-commerce site for church supplies since 1999, Abbott expanded its horizons to make its products and services available both nationally and abroad. Abbott now serves customers all over the world, from Guam to Alaska, Malta and Japan.
"It's a powerful thing when you act in the best interest of your customer and the customer realizes that. Distance no longer matters. We enjoy working for customers everywhere, and what's even better is they start out as customers and end up as friends," Daniel says.
In addition to its standard clientele, Abbott took on a 5-year government contract in 1999, during Operation Enduring Freedom, supplying items for chaplains in the field and for many new chapels throughout Europe. For this, Abbott won an Award of International Prime Vendor to the U.S. Military as well as an award for efficiency in conserving U.S. funds. After five years of serving the U.S. government, Daniel made the decision to continue focusing on Abbott's primary business, but still maintains relationships with military chaplains.
Moving On and Up
In 2005, Abbott acquired its national distribution center to keep up with growing demand. As far as future plans go, Abbott aims to outdo itself in the realm of customer satisfaction.
"In the future, the Abbott team will continue to seek out new products, suppliers and technologies to enhance our offering," Daniel says. "Please let me know what you like and what you don't. I welcome your ideas and input so please feel free to contact me directly at 1.800.522.2688 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org."
At ABBOTT, we believe that our personal service and careful selection of the products we offer is what truly sets us apart. As you browse the pages of our catalogs or our website, you'll come to discover that we offer the highest quality, value oriented products that perform as promised. We personally guarantee it. I hope you agree that better products are simply a better investment, one that enhances your worship space and reduces or eliminates time, expense and/or frustration. We are honored to serve you and are grateful for your support and confidence in the Abbott team. We'll continue to deliver on our promise was we have since 1962.