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Text Box: History
Our Beginnings                            
Between 1850 and 1855, Toledo, Ohio had a 121% increase in its population from 3,829 people to some 8,500. With a growing populace, it was only natural for business development to grow as well. Wanting to take advantage of this population augmentation, prospective businessmen started migrating to the area. 
Two of these businessmen, brothers William and Charles B. Roff, set out on horseback from Racine, Wisconsin and headed towards Toledo. They were looking forward to a prosperous adventure into the retail hardware business. Both men had plenty of experience. In Newark, New Jersey, William had been in the retail hardware field for many years holding several positions. After a visit to his brother, who was managing a clothing store in Racine, they decided to join forces in a retail hardware store.
Roff Hardware Company took off successfully, but both men were eager for more challenging opportunities. That opportunity arrived in 1855 when the Roff brothers learned of a retail and wholesale hardware business that was for sale. After a slow negotiation process via mail, the Roff's sold their Racine business and headed towards a brighter Toledo. 
It was July 2, 1855 when the Roff's hung the sign at their new business: W. & C. B. Roff & Co. The business was at the "Sign of the Anvil" located at 130 Summit Street. 
The Roff brothers hired Oscar Alonzo Bostwick in 1862 as their first traveling salesman. Bostwick had been in the hardware business for eight years, owning several stores. In 1865, Bostwick became a principal in the company and remained active until 1893. That same year , W. & C. B. Roff & Co. shortened its name to Roff & Co. 
In 1866, Carl F. Braun joined Roff & Co. after immigrating from Germany in 1843. He had graduated from polytechnic school in Kassel, Germany. Twenty-seven years after joining the company, Carl Braun became President. He retired in 1904. 
Following in his cousin's footsteps, George A. Braun came to Roff & Co. in 1868. He succeeded Carl as President and became Chairman of the Board in 1913. George had gained hardware experience at his uncle's hardware store in Lorain, Ohio. After William Roff retired at the age of 66, the Braun cousins purchased an interest in Roff & Co. Five years later, in 1873, Charles Roff retired at the age of 55. Since the Roff's were no longer connected to the company, the firm changed its name to The Bostwick-Braun Company. 
That year, Oscar Bostwick took the reign as president and held that position until his retirement 19 years later. Carl and George Braun both were appointed president for two non-consecutive terms. Carl held office between 1892 and 1903; George held office from 1903-1904. For a short period in 1904, Carl occupied the president's position one last time before becoming Chairman of the Board. George took over the reign again in 1904; he became Chairman of the Board in 1913. 
That year, Henry Lawrence Thompson assumed the position of president. When Thompson was 18, he applied at The Bostwick-Braun Company for an "office boy" position. After being told that the company did not need a new office boy, Thompson replied, "Well, I think I should like to learn the hardware business. And my mother and sisters and I have $20,000 insurance which my father left. We might put it in a business I like." Thompson was hired.
H. L. Thompson is coined as "One of the men who made Toledo". He not only served as Bostwick-Braun's president until his death in 1939, but he held the same position at a Toledo bank. In 1918, Thompson debuted in the banking circle by organizing the Summit Trust Co. Four years later it was merged with the Toledo Savings Bank & Trust Co.; this is when Thompson was named president.
Isaac R. Pancake joined The Bostwick-Braun Company in 1916 as a clerk in the retail department. Pancake held many positions from salesman to buyer, all the while working up the ladder to president, which he accomplished in 1940. 
The War Years. During WWII, all employees at the company showed faith and loyalty. There were problems obtaining merchandise to sell because most things were needed for the war. That didn't exclude people either. Many of the young men who were employed at Bostwick-Braun were drafted into the war. This left the warehouse virtually empty since there were no women employed there at the time. 
With no one to fill or pack the small amount of orders which were still coming in, business was slumping even more. It was at this point that the endurance and loyalty of workers really shone. For example, field salesmen would work in their territories for one week writing orders, then they would spend a week or two in the office and warehouse, and finally they spent one week at home. This cycle continued for several years throughout the war. 
Taking the same career path as his father, Henry L. Thompson, Jr., was elected president in 1956 after working at the company for 19 years. He started working as an order boy during summers while attending school. He eventually joined the Sales and Purchasing departments until 1941 when he enlisted in the service. After his return in 1945, Thompson, Jr. was promoted to Assistant Sales Manager, and then Vice President of Sales in 1951. Following his presidency in 1972 was Dempsey M. Humphries, Jr. He served until 1982 when he was elected Chairman. 
After serving in the U.S. Navy, Richard E. Smith began his career at The Bostwick-Braun Company in 1949 as an order clerk in our warehouse. Smith held several positions at the company, such as Dealer Salesman, PRO Dealer Service Manager, Vice President of Dealer Sales, Vice President of Marketing, Executive Vice President of Marketing, and President from 1982-1995. Smith was the company's CEO from 1982 to 2000 and was Chairman of the Board since 1995. He first became a board member in 1965. At the end of 2002, Richard Smith retired. 
Taking over for Smith as Chairman of the Board in 2002 was former President Bill Bollin, who has also served as CEO since July of 2000.  Bollin was hired in 1970 and like Smith, he started his career in the warehouse. Bollin worked hard to achieve his current position, working in several different areas:
Inventory Control Manager
Information Center Operations
Manager and Inventory Manager for Purchasing
Product Manager
Director of Purchasing
Vice President, Director of Purchasing
Senior Vice President, Marketing
Executive Vice President
President
Former President Elaine Canning retired from Bostwick-Braun in March of 2008. Canning was named Vice President of Finance in February of 1987 and that same year was elected to the Board of Directors. It was 1995 when she was promoted to Executive Vice President. In January of  2003, Canning was promoted to President. In late March of 2008, Canning retired from the company.
In August of 2007, Bostwick-Braun welcomed its new Chief Financial 
Officer aboard. Brenda Smith is a graduate of Bowling Green University, where she received her degree in Accounting and MIS. She earned her MBA from the University of Toledo. Brenda previously worked for Great Lakes Window as the Corporate Controller and Deputy Director of Finance with the City of Perrysburg. Currently, she holds the title of Senior VP Treasurer & CFO.
In December of 2010, former Chief Marketing Officer and Senior VP 
of Marketing Chris Beach was promoted to President & COO. Beach 
started his career with Bostwick-Braunís Industrial Supply Division in 
1989. He received his Bachelorís Degree in Business Administration from the University of Toledo. After managing a successful sales territory in Detroit for several years, he was promoted in 1999 to Field Sales Manager for the Industrial Supply Division. In 2000, Beach promoted to Vice President of Bostwick-Braun Industrial Supply. 
 
 
  Our Founders        





Charles B. Roff
William Roff
Carl F. Braun
George A. Braun
Oscar A. Bostwick
Movin' on Up 
For the Roff brothers, business was booming. In fact, business was so good that after two years in business it was necessary to move to a larger building. The 130 Summit Street building was not capable of housing the increasing number of products. In 1857, W. & C. B. Roff moved shop to 72 Summit Street. The first city directory in 1858 showed the yearly sales of the company to be $75,000; this was outstanding for a city of only 13,000 people. 
 
The hardware business continued to excel beyond belief and thus led to another move. In 1865, the business moved to a larger building at the foot of Monroe Street . The back door rested upon the West Bank of the Maumee River, causing the firm to be one step ahead of their competition since water was the main highway of the day. 
 

Due to tremendous population growth and an expansion in business and industry, there was an enormous demand for hardware. By 1876, it was evident that the company needed larger headquarters. The third move in 21 years took the company to the corner of  Monroe and St. Clair Streets. 
These quarters served adequate until the 20th century when extra space was scarce; a fourth move soon began. This time, The Bostwick-Braun Company built their own building. The 8-story, 300,000 square foot building was completed in 1908 and could sustain 205,720,000 pounds of merchandise. According to the Engineering Record, the building was built faster than any other of comparable size. 
The entire block bounded by Summit, Monroe, and Perry Streets was purchased and more than an acre of buildings were removed. Special construction methods were used in order for the building to house the tremendous weight of hardware items. In fact, the amount of concrete used doubled the amount used for the 300 room Secor Hotel. 
The Bostwick-Braun Company continued to expand and grow, resulting in several more moves. It was late 1990 when the company moved out of the old AP Parts office and into the location on 1946 N. 13th Street. 
In April of 1984, we broke ground for our new 280,000 square foot distribution center in Ashley, Indiana. This locale was the best choice since a majority of our business at the time was coming from the west. In 1977 alone we hired 25 new salespeople that were based out of Indianapolis and several more in Milwaukee. This way, our products were housed centrally amongst our customers. In 1985, our Ashley Distribution Center was complete and ready for business.
In October of 2010, The Bostwick-Braun main headquarters moved from the 1946 N. 13th Street location to 7349 Crossleigh Ct., Toledo OH  43617. 

Acquisitions 
The Bostwick-Braun Company has shown nothing but success and ingenuity in its reign. Part of this continued success has come from the acquisitions of new facilities. During the 1970s, The Bostwick-Braun Company purchased an industrial distributor in downtown Detroit, the J.T. Wing Co. It was eventually merged with the Toledo division and enabled us to increase our business extensively. 
In June of 1995, The Bostwick-Braun Company purchased the Kohlmyer Supply Company in Lorain, Ohio. This facility, was moved in 2009 to the current Avon location and is stocked with competitively priced items and has a warehouse that holds many of the high-quality products for our industrial division. 
In October of 2006, Bostwick-Braun acquired Steel City Products in McKeesport, PA, near Pittsburgh. Steel City is a distributor of soft automotive supplies, lawn & garden items, and pet supplies. This has allowed Bostwick-Braun to expand their product offering, while attaining a more diverse customer base. 
In March of 2010, The Bostwick-Braun Company acquired The Southern Hardware Company in West Helena, AR. This has allowed Bostwick-Braun to expand their reach into the southern states beginning in Kentucky through Mississippi.
JMC Sales & Engineering joined The Bostwick-Braun Company in December of 2010. They are an industrial distributor with locations in Indianapolis, IN and Fort Wayne, IN.
The Future 
The Bostwick-Braun Company remains a strong, successful company who works hard to insure that our customers stay profitable too. After so many years in the business, we are confident that we'll be here long into the future!
If you want to know more about our company, contact us anytime! By e-mail: info@bostwickbraun.com or by phone: 1-800-777-9640.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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