Our founder William (Bill) Roche founded Roche Bros. Barrel & Drum Co. in 1919, with his brother Jim, out of a barn behind his home in Somerville, Massachusetts. His brother became ill and passed away shortly after, but Bill kept the name Roche Bros. to honor Jim’s memory and to keep the brotherly inspiration for the company alive.
In Somerville, Bill ran the company as a dealer. He collected and brokered wooden barrels, picking them up with a horse and wagon.
The business soon outgrew the barn.
Move to South Boston
The business thrived.
Fan Pier vendors were eager to buy his barrels. The nearby rail yard enabled him to ship barrels to the Philadelphia and Chicago markets. He also trucked them through out New England and New York.
Bill put up a second building — just to store the butter buckets he sold to Land O’Lakes — which was founded in 1921 and growing in prominence. He also took advantage of the emerging steel drum market, brokering steel drums to sell to the New Jersey market.
World War 2 Forces Roche Bros. to Move
The second World War broke out and the federal government seized the property by eminent domain. Abutted by the Army Base, and situated on the rail line, the government needed the location to store the tanks and munitions being shipped into Boston.
Bill was given 30 days to vacate the property.
Move to Cambridge
Bill bought a two-story building, formerly a lumber yard, on McGrath & O’Brien Highway in East Cambridge. Roche Bros. reconditioned steel drums on the first floor and manufactured wooden barrels on the second floor.
During the 1950s, and giving a new meaning to the company name of Roche Bros, Bill’s four sons joined the company. Together with their father, Frank, Tom, Charlie, and Mike, ran the business from the Cambridge location. Roche Bros continued to thrive, but was devastated by a fire in 1966.
Based in Lowell, Massachusetts since 1966
After the fire, the Roche family moved the company to Lowell and built a manufacturing facility tailored to recondition open head steel barrels. In 1975, the company added a manufacturing line to recondition tight head steel barrels. In the 1980s, as a third generation of Roches (Kevin, Greg, and Mike) joined the business, Roche Bros expanded into manufacturing new steel barrels.
Roche Bros today
Roche Cousins Greg and Mike run the business today, with the first fourth-generation family member, Mike Jr. Roche Bros still calls Lowell its home and offers a full range of container products: new and reconditioned plastic drums, new and reconditioned steel barrels, and new, reconditioned, and rebottled bulk containers | totes.
The company serves New England, New York, and Canada.