The Gate City Fence / Forrence Family Story
In 1947 Charlie Forrence installed his first fence. It was a 4' Tall galvanized chain link fence around the front yard of his home in Nashua. At the time the fence had just one purpose, a safe place to play for his young growing family. Little did Charlie & Rita realize, but this fence would be the start of something really big for their family and generations to come. Charlie had done such a good job on his own fence that it wasn't long before people noticed and started asking him to install one at their home.
Life was different back then for the young Forrence family. Charlie had just finished serving our country overseas in WWII. He had a full time job working for the International Shoe Company. His nights and weekends were filled with trying to build Gate City Fence. His office and shop were his garage; his tools and truck were simply nothing but a wheelbarrow and a station wagon. Rita at the time was juggling the responsibilities of raising her children, working as a waitress at the Modern Restaurant and taking phone calls for the fence company. Their hard work and determination that helped form Gate City Fence back then and are still visible in everything we do today.
Big changes for Gate City Fence came in the 60's.
The company moved from Walnut Street to our current location on Ledge Street. Along with the move came the 2nd generation of Forrence members to Gate City Fence. We often joke how some kids grew up playing with toy cars, planes and baby dolls; the Forrence kids grew up with shovels and post hole diggers in their hands. Charlie & Rita had four children Suzanne, Charles Jr. "Chick", Ken Sr. and Drusilla "Drue". Friday's were big fence days so Ken & Chick would take the day off from school and work. While the other kids were off playing baseball after school, the Forrence kids were out putting up fence.
Gate City Fence continued to grow through the 70's and 80's. It was during this time that Charlie had transitioned away from installing fence to his sole job , being the primary estimator for the company. Charlie had a sincere and genuine approach when he dealt with customers. We often hear repeat customers reminiscing how Charlie had come to their house and what was a simple fence estimate would turn into a long conversation around the kitchen table filled laughter and stories. Charlie did business the old fashioned way; there were no calculators, no signing on the dotted line… merely a handshake and a promise from Charlie you could trust. Though times and business practices have since then changed, our commitment to delivering on all our promises remain as good as they were when it was as simple as a handshake.
Things were also at the time settling in the for the 2nd generation of Forrences. The workforce was led by Chick and Ken Sr. Chick led a crew as he continues to do to this day installing primarily chain link, aluminum and vinyl fences. Ken Sr. at the time was in charge of all the wood job installations. Drue, as she still is today, is responsible for everything involving running the office. For our customers, knowing that someone in the family , throughout the entire process , is working on their job has been a major key to our success.
The 90's was another decade of big changes for Gate City Fence. Along came Kevin, Jeff, Tim and myself (Ken Jr.) "the 3rd generation" to the Gate City Fence family. As kids growing up, we all worked here, learning the trade long before learning how to drive a car. Though we were not as lucky as our fathers that is being able to skip school days in order to work. With more fence experience than most , it wasn't long before the 3rd generation would be leading crews. Today you will find Jeff and Tim leading wood installation crews and Kevin following in the footsteps of his Dad installing chain link, vinyl and aluminum fences. As for myself, Drue and I run the day to day operations of the company.
In 1995 we purchased the manufacturing/warehouse building we call "Forrence Millhouse". The building is located directly behind our Ledge Street property. The purchase of this building has enabled us to provide dry bulk storage for our fence materials. Prior to the building our inventory was limited, due to the footprint size of our operation. It meant we were at the mercy of our suppliers to buy limited quantities. Today our extensive inventory has allowed us to pass along our bulk purchasing power savings to our customers. If it's a fence part you need chances are we have it and lots of it.
The other benefit of having the Millhouse building was our new vinyl fabrication shop. There is more information about our vinyl fabrication shop as well as our operation in the Design Considerations Page.
In the late 90's we built our new 1500 sq. ft. indoor showroom. Here we welcome customers to view our vast display of fence styles and options.
Gate City Fence continues to grow with the new arrival of members of the 4th generation of Forrence's. Ryan is learning the ropes from his Dad , Jeff , and my daughter Miranda is helping us out in the office.
Though many things are different from early days many things remain unchanged.
You will often times still catch Charlie, who is 93 years old, here at the office . He comes in just about every day, always eager to run an errand or just sit in the rocking chair greeting the next customer with a smile.
When we say we are a family business we really mean it. Our commitment to family has been the key to our success for all these years. When you call us, someone in the family will more than likely be the one helping you get started. Typically Ken Sr. will be the one to visit your home to give you an estimate; and depending upon what style fence you choose… it will be my Uncle, brother, brother, cousin or nephew coming out to install your fence.
Thank you for visiting our site.
February 2013 Rita Forrence passed away. For over 60 years, Rita worked at Gate City Fence (6 days a week). She will be missed dearly by all of us and I am certain many of our customers will remember her with fond memories.
Ken Forrence Jr.