LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) – A Rhode Island business famed for making the annual White House Christmas ornament is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
ChemArt, a Lincoln-based manufacturer, was founded in 1976 by Richard Beaupre. The company got its start in a garage in Cranston but now employs 160 workers during its busy season.
ChemArt was initially a jewelry manufacturer, but transitioned to ornaments in the early 1980s, according to Beaupre. He said the company now makes roughly 900,000 ornaments a year.
“When we switched over to Christmas ornaments – it wasn’t planned,” Beaupre said Thursday during a taping of myRITV’s Executive Suite. “It just accidentally happened. Somebody came up and asked me to design them a Christmas ornament, and we did. And that started to snowball over the years – so now, now we’re the largest decorative etching company in the world.”
Beaupre graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in chemistry and has now become a major donor to the school. Earlier this year URI named its new $68-million chemistry building after him.