Our History

Early 1930s Starting Out

picture of Butcher Brothers

The Butcher name has come a long way since it's humble beginnings in the 1930s. Like so many other members of their generation, after service in WW1, Lawrence, and his two younger brothers, Edwin and Jerry left the farm and opened Dixie Electric.  They worked on cars, they sold batteries and did anything electrical.  When car radios came along, they were among the first in the area to offer service.  From there, it was a small step into the appliance business, selling home radios and soon other appliances, especially washing machines, throughout Acadiana. As a sideline, they began to offer refrigeration equipment-mainly commercial size freezers and ice machines.

Late 1930s Continuing to Grow

An old butcher truck

The business prospered.  The brothers changed their name to the Butcher Brothers in the 1930s, eventually opening three additional appliance stores under that name in Crowley, Opelousas, and Lake Charles. As business grew, the brothers increasingly started to specialize.  Jerry was into electronics. An early advocate of radio, he was one of the first in the area to offer television.  Edwin specialized in the appliance end of the business and Lawrence specialized in refrigeration and air conditioning.

Lawrence was an outstanding salesmen and technical man.  Lawrence sold some of the first refrigeration systems between New Orleans and Houston, including many ice producing plants and some of the first home refrigerators.  When air conditioning first arrived in the 1930s, Lawrence was again ahead of the pack.  The first unit was sold to the Antlers Pool Hall.  The next units were bought by Maurice Heymann for his drug store and then for his department store.  From there, it pretty much moved up and down Jefferson St.  

1950s AC Becomes a Necessity

Butcher standing in front of desk

Lawrence decided to retire in 1949.  His brothers were eager to keep the highly profitable appliance side of the business. But without Lawrence’s expertise, the brothers were not interested in the refrigeration business.  Instead of letting it die, Lawrence split that part of the business off between his sons: Tom, Warren and Matt into the newly created, Butcher Refrigeration. To house the new company, Lawrence built a modest building of their use on the corner of East Third and Orange Streets-now North Evangeline Thruway, and rented the building to them until they could buy it on their own.

The first year of business, they sold a total of 15 air conditioners.  Most of their business back then was installing commercial refrigeration equipment.  Butcher sold mainly window units at first and gradually ventured into the whole house and commercial cooling and heating. With the coming of the oil industry, came many good jobs.  People started to build nicer homes.  Air Conditioning began to move from a luxury to a necessity.  By 1953, Butcher Refridgeration sold over 300 units.  The brothers were approached by General Electric to become a distributor and the business started to grow.  Increasingly, air conditioners started to dominate the brother’s business, so in 1955, the company changed its name again to Butcher Air Conditioning.

1980-1990 Building a Legacy

image of Butcher AC team in front of company building in 1990

By 1981, the business had grown to the point where the firm was selling 5,000 units a year.  A third generation of Butchers came on board when Tom’s son, Bobby, graduated from LSU with a degree in business and joined his father in the company. 

Butcher Air Conditioning was approached by Trane in 1990 about taking over their New Orleans and Southern Mississippi wholesale distribution territories.  This was a large undertaking. If accepted, Butcher’s dealer base would have tripled.  To help make this large transition, Tom called on his youngest son, John, to head this division. To handle the new business, Tom spun off the company’s small distribution arm and created a new company, Butcher Distributors Inc.

2000 Expanding

image of a Butcher AC technician in front of company truck

Today, Butcher Air Conditioning and Butcher Distributors continue to grow.  With over 100 employees and 75 trucks on the road,  Butcher Air conditioning services over 21,000 calls a year in the Acadiana area, and is the biggest Trane dealer Louisiana.  Butcher Distribution now has warehouses in Lafayette, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Mandeville and Gulfport.  Butcher Distributors is proud to have been recognized as one of their top distributors.  Butcher earned the Pacesetter Award in 2006, 2009, and 2014.  This award is given to only three distributors nationwide and establishes Butcher as a top tier performer in premium systems. Butcher expanded into the Insulation business in 2009. Butcher Air Conditioning continues with a fourth generation of Butchers expanding on the values that were instilled since the start. 

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