- Sonia Della, Chamber Ambassador and Insurance Agent at Agri-Center Insurance Agency, Inc.
Walt Disney once said, “All your dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Ray Bradbury once said, “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies…..as long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”
I can’t help think of those quotes while considering businesses in the Central Valley: What could leave more of an impact or legacy on us and our families than the oldest businesses in Fresno?
James Porteous arrived in Fresno County in 1877. In May 1878, Porteous took over the Williams Blacksmith shop, which would eventually become Fresno Ag Hardware.
Porteous took over the blackmith shop in 1878 and in 1881 moved locations to Tulare & L renaming the business Fresno Agricultural Works.
It all really started in 1883, when Porteous invented the Fresno Scraper, a machine used for the construction of canals and ditches in sandy soil. This innovative tool was soon being used all around the San Joaquin Valley for the digging of irrigation canals. The Fresno Scraper also played a vital role in the nation’s history, being used for the Panama Canal and by the US Army in World War I. Today, this machine can be seen at the Smithsonian Institute. In 1881, Porteous moved locations to the corner of Tulare & L Streets and changed the name of the business to Fresno Agricultural Works. By 1890, the business had more than doubled in size. As time went on, Fresno saw that the best was yet to come.
John Rosetta grew up as a foster child, eventually finding work as a janitor at Fresno Agricultural Works where he swept floors. In 1952, the company was broken up and bought by John Rosetta, and he renamed it Fresno Ag Hardware. To this day, this Fresno institution is still family owned and operated, with John’s wife, Rae Rosetta, at the helm. Sadly, John Rosetta passed away in 2002, but not before creating a legacy that his family, and our valley as a whole, could value and enjoy.
Fresno Ag Hardware currently has 86,000 square feet of everything for home, work and much more. It is even pet friendly, so yes, I can bring in Gucci my Pomeranian. If you do bring in your dog, be sure to ask for a dog treat when you reach the counter. You could also look for one of 2 BBQ Events it holds twice a year which benefit the SPCA.
I cannot think of many businesses I visited with my parents as a child that I now visit with my own children. The fact that there is something like Fresno Ag Hardware in our valley with a heritage like that is something I believe we can all appreciate. Thank you John Rosetta for having the courage to pursue your dream!