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Schenectady Hardware & Electric celebrates 100 years in business

SCHENECTADY — In 1923, after becoming one of the first graduates of Union College’s electrical engineering program, Benjamin Spraragen founded Schenectady Hardware & Electric.

Now, four generations later, the family-owned electrical contracting company is celebrating 100 years in business.

“We’ve been here for so many years that we’ve become a part of the fabric of this community,” said Chris Spraragen, current president of company which is headquartered in the historic building at 155 Erie Blvd.

After launching the business a century ago, Benjamin wired hundreds of houses and ran the hardware store uninterrupted during the Great Depression, becoming one of the first in the country to convert gas lights to electric. He passed over the reins to his son, Donald, who served as president from 1982 to 1993 and spearheaded the business’ expansion into the commercial light industry. Chris took over the family business in 2008 after the death of his father Larry, whose leadership prompted the company’s growth into the largest electrical contracting firm in the region.

“Every president had their own challenges, and the transition from being more of a supplier and electrical hardware store to becoming more of a contractor has shifted over the years,” the fourth-generation owner said. For him, taking over at the height of a recession and then adapting to the changing landscape spurred by the pandemic has presented its own unique set of obstacles.

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