Cook Iron Store History

Cook Iron Store, began in 1907 at Daniel L. Cook's blacksmith shop. Here Mr. Cook shod horses, replaced wagon wheel rims and repaired buggies on Andrews Street in downtown Rochester. As the business grew Mr. Cook expanded his offering to include iron, steel, heavy hardware, paint, oil, welding equipment and a tire store.

In 1935, Daniel Cook passed away and was survived by his wife Mary and son, Spencer. Along with his cousin Frederick Cook, Spencer took over the Cook Iron Store operations. In 1936, the Cook's purchased the Journal American Building at 128 St. Paul Street. With 70,000 sq. feet of office and warehouse space, Spencer had unknowingly made provision for an expansion that would take Cook Iron into the next millennium. In July of 1958, Frederick passed away and Spencer became sole owner.

In 1962 Mr. Richard Alheim purchased Cook Iron Store and expanded into several different markets including, bottled gas, builders’ hardware and fireplace accessories. In 1964 the business grew to $300,000 in sales and Mr. Ahlheim, realizing the need for a General Manager, hired Mr. Ed Page away from Builtrite (Chase Pitkin). At the time Ed was the key figure responsible for bringing the Home Center concept to the Rochester area. In 1979, Richard Ahlheim unexpectedly passed away and Ed Page purchased the business.

During his time with Mr. Ahlheim, Ed built the business substantially, and in the early 1980's made his two key managers (Ray Riley and Ed Staub) partners in the business. The three began selling off parts of the business not consistent with Ed's objective of becoming the largest Construction and Industrial Supplier in Rochester. Consequently, they sold the bottled gas business to Suburban Propane, the paint business to R.C. Shaheen and the fireplace business to Ted Collins (Cricket on the Hearth). Over time the iron and steel business was phased out as well.

Under Ed's vision and leadership, the company focused on line expansions that catered to Construction and MRO products such as Black & Decker/DeWalt, Cooper Tools, Stanley and Ridge Tool. This concentration and specialization has enabled Cook Iron to become a primary supplier to Contractors and Manufacturers in the greater Rochester area.

In November of 2004 Cook Iron began to reach out nationally with the launch of - a tool and contractor supplies website. In June of 2005 Ed Page passed away and was succeeded by Steve Wichtowski and Terry Page. Steve and Terry continue to carry out and expand on the vision Ed had over 40 years ago. With the acquisition of Flower City Wiper in 2009 Cook Iron became the only local converter of cotton shop rags. In 2012 we increased our footprint in the safety and first aid categories with the purchase of SafetyFirst. We continue to look at acquisitions that will benefit our local customers by helping them consolidate their purchases. We are truly grateful to all of our local, national and international customers who continue to allow us to be part of their business.