Family honors son's memory; Jen Manufacturing increases giving.


Byline: Ellie Oleson

COLUMN: Telegram & Gazette Santa

Despite a recession, this year's annual donation from the owners of Jen Manufacturing Inc. of Millbury to the Telegram & Gazette Santa Fund increased.

It has been 22 years since Eagle Scout, U.S. Army reservist

and University of Lowell graduate Jonathan Scott Gendron was killed in a car accident. During each of those 22 years, his parents, Gerald C. and Nancy L. Gendron, owners of Jen Manufacturing Inc. of Millbury, have made a generous donation to the Telegram & Gazette Santa in their son's name.

That annual donation was $150 in 1990, and for the past decade has been $500 per year. This year's donation was $750, and was from Mr. and Mrs. Gendron; their son, Jeffrey T. Gendron, vice president of Jen Manufacturing; his wife, Misty; and their daughter, Sophia Rose, 3.

"There are a lot of young kids out there that need to have a good Christmas. We want to remember them in honor of our son," the elder Mr. Gendron said.

He said he feels extremely blessed to have his son, Jeffrey, who survived a tour of duty in Desert Storm before returning home in 1993, eventually marrying, then becoming a father and a partner in the family business.

Jen Manufacturing Inc. began as a small mom-and-pop operation in Worcester, when the elder Mrs. Gendron's father, John J. Chisholm of Worcester, founded the company in 1957 to manufacture his invention, the disposable polyurethane foam paint brush.

"He called the company `Jen' - the first initials of himself, his wife, Elva, and my wife, Nancy. It's just a coincidence that Nancy married me and my name is Gendron that sounds just like Jen," Mr. Gendron said.

The company that began as a tiny, 2,500-square-foot shop in Worcester is now a highly automated, 62,000-square-foot plant that employs 35 at the Millbury Industrial Park off Route 20 in Millbury.

"We designed and built all our own machinery. We have sold nearly 4 billion Poly-Brush disposable paint brushes all over the country. Cheaper knockoffs made in China or someplace are also available, but our disposable brushes are of much higher quality. They will perform and never lose their heads," Mr. Gendron said.

He said his 1,500 customers include Ace Hardware and True Value Hardware. "We'd love to have our American-made brushes in Home Depot or Lowe's. Let's keep the money in the U.S.A."

Mr. Gendron said the downturn in the economy has had an impact on his company, but that just led him to increase his family's...

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