Russ, Thelma and Norm French in showroom at OESCO in Conway, MA
Mobile repair shop in the early 1950s
Original Orchard Equipment & Supply
Russ, Thelma and Norm on front porch of OESCO
Norm French in his element
Russ French at work
The Conway building, formerly a lace factory
Water tower in Conway
OESCO office in Conway
OESCO Inc. (also known as Orchard Equipment & Supply Company) is located on the banks of the South River, 8 Ashfield Road, Route 116 in Conway, Massachusetts, seven miles northwest of Interstate 91 in Deerfield. Conway is a small western Massachusetts town in the Berkshire foothills. OESCO is just west of the center of the town. You are welcome to stop and visit us when you are in the area.
Orchard Equipment and Supply was founded by Norman and Thelma French in Burlington, Connecticut. In 1966, Norman passed an empty mill building in Conway, MA by chance. By 1967, the company had expanded into their new facility. Under the leadership of their son and President of OESCO, Inc., Russell French, the company has grown to include 27 employees, with customers throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Our search for new and innovative products includes Italian manufacturers of flow meters, all-terrain grass and brush mowers, transporters and dumpers by Bertolini, and the reliable Goldoni Transcars and multicultivators. We continue to expand the forestry products manufactured by Tajfun in Slovenija. Our dependable, tried-and-true US vendors continue to bring great new products to the marketplace.
OESCO is committed to our customers with our friendly service, broad knowledge of our industry, and timely, efficient deliveries, with a dependable, skilled technical service department. We are an unusual company, offering a fair point of sale, before and after sale service, and repair. We have thousands of whole goods and parts in stock and are ready to help you, our valued customer. If you have purchased from us before, we sincerely thank you for your business and trust. If you are new to OESCO, welcome!
The French family started Orchard Equipment and Supply Company in 1954 when Norman and Thelma French purchased the Palmer Brothers Cider Press Company of Cos Cob, Connecticut. The cider press manufacturing company operated out of their farm in Burlington, Connecticut. It began a lifelong commitment to growers and green industry professionals through more than a half century. OESCO, Inc. continues to do what they do best, supplying growers, gardeners and groundskeeping professionals with professional grade machinery, tools, parts and service.
From the start, Orchard Equipment and Supply improved on the quality of well made machinery. As the original Palmer Brothers wood framed presses changed style, Orchard introduced the stainless steel Sanifeed Deluxe press. This press, designed, engineered and built by the French family, and still manufactured by OESCO, is considered one of the best rack and cloth cider presses available in the United States. The purchase of the Cardox air blast sprayer company expanded the business from a seasonal to a year-round operation. A new facility was needed to manufacture and assemble components and a search began for a building.
In 1967 the French family, Norm, Thelma and their three children, Russell, Jo-Ann and Donna moved to Conway, Massachusetts, relocating the business to the former Conway Manufacturing Company building. The entire company, five full- and part-time workers and owners, moved to the Conway area. A newspaper article from the time describes the event:
"A welder by trade, French started his business as an equipment repairman, later branching out as a manufacturer. The Orchard line has grown from a few basic products for the fruit grower to a complete line available from a single source."
Thelma acted as office manager, Norm as sales manger and designer. The company soon became a major manufacturer in the town and is still Conway's largest employer. Russell French became more involved with the company after the move. Listed in the article as "shop manager and expediter," Russ moved his already established contracting business to Conway, working both businesses until joining OESCO full time.
Growing with the industry
By the early 1970s the business had expanded again with a warehouse across from the office and manufacturing facility. Orchard became a major supplier of fruit packing equipment and orchard supplies in the northeast. Ever aware of changing trends in the industry, the company began offering rotary drum presses in 1978. The Mearelli press, imported from Italy, provided an alternative to the rack and cloth presses but did not replace it. More significantly, it established a connection with Italian companies that eventually led to the importing of tractors and sprayers from that country.
Orchard then took on the John Bean, Rears and AgTec lines of sprayers and set the tone for its commitment to quality tools and equipment for industry professionals. They now carry nearly 200 brands which are available by mail order, online and at the Conway location where in 2002 a showroom was added. Through creative invention, product refinement and acquisition Orchard Equipment and Supply Company has grown steadily into a full service green industry supplier and was incorporated as OESCO, Inc. in 1996. The company now employs 27 full time workers who manufacture, sell and ship products nation wide.
In the beginning, product development was guided by a careful analysis of the fruit growing business. The dwindling number of orchards caused OESCO to adapt their mission to supply and serve all growers, and then the entire green industry, with the focus on trade professionals. OESCO continuously evaluates their product lines and are constantly exploring new lines and processes to maintain industry standards. When Gypsy Moths infested trees in the northeast in late 70s, OESCO used their knowledge of crop spraying technology to provide commercial spray equipment to fight the epidemic. Their reputation among landscapers, nursery growers and grounds keepers as a reliable source for tools, machinery and unparalleled expertise grew steadily.
The Parts Detective
With such a long tenure, OESCO has built an impressive list of loyal customers who are constantly replacing and repairing machinery almost as old as the company. As a result, OESCO has built the largest inventory of new, used and recycled parts for pumps and sprayers in the northeast. When people need to find parts for discontinued, worn and antique pumps and sprayers they call OESCO. The active machine shop is capable of designing and fabricating machine parts and accessories.
Compact Tractors and Utility Vehicles
The Goldoni Transcar model is a favorite for equine farms and all kinds of woodlot and landscaping applications. Its three-way dump and articulated steering makes it a versatile utility vehicle. In the same way that Goldoni's versatility appeals to the small grower, the Ventrac compact articulating tractor provides landscapers and groundskeepers with the same versatility. With more than 25 attachments Ventrac allows for performance of literally any landscaping and grounds maintenance task, Ventrac has found its way into many municipal and personal environments. Ventrac also offers a special Christmas Tree Grower's mowing, spraying package that far outshines any other machine used for that application. We also carry Bush Hog off road utility vehicles.
Made in the USA
Through the last half century of growth and innovations OESCO has remained true to its first focus; serving the fruit growing and cider industry from pruning to cider processing. At their Conway facility, Orchard manufactures tools for the orchard. The Wheeler Pruning Saw, featured in Martha Stewart's Living Magazine, is a staple in every orchard owner's toolbox. OESCO purchased the Friend Picking Bucket Company which fabricates nearly a thousand units a year here. The parts, assembly and delivery of the Orchard Sanifeed System, Orchard Cider Presses, packing equipment and apple graters all originate at the Conway location. The Orchard Feed Needle was designed and is assembled at the Conway facility. And, to complete the cycle, OESCO is sole marketer and distributor of the CiderSure® UV (ultra violet) juice processor which sanitizes juice without increasing temperature or diminishing flavor. OESCO provided information to cider producers while field testing units and worked with the manufacturer through FDA approval of the process. They have recently added the Sap Steady UV maple sap processor to the line. This machine kills bacteria in maple sap to increase the longevity of sugar content in the sap allowing producers to make higher grade syrup for longer periods in the season.
Old Fashioned Customer Service
OESCO maintains their reputation as a solid supplier and resource for the green industry with old school customer service. Answers to questions are a phone call or email away. During business hours phones are answered and questions about applications, usage and the right tools to use for each are answered by people with knowledge and experience.
Russ French is on the premises daily overseeing operations as President of OESCO, Inc. Though co-founder Thelma French passed away in 2005, Norm works in the office a few hours each day. In 1998 he was awarded an Award Of Merit from the Connecticut Pomological Society for his contribution to the industry with his work in spraying technology.
OESCO continues to supply professionals with what they need to conduct the day to day business of the green industry. You can find them at nearly every industry trade show in the northeast and the annual catalog is available by phone or online. Our catalog is stocked with products of superior quality that consistently meet the demands of professionals around the country. It has thousands of items, in full color, from hand tools to machinery, sprayers and spraying components, orchard, nursery, forestry and woodlot tools and equipment. Take your pick!