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The tests of time and change bring forth the most important
qualities in products and people. Those who endure know the constant search for
better ways of meeting customer needs. Jay Lawrence of Lawrence Brothers in
Sterling, Illinois, exemplifies this philosophy. Jay is the fourth generation
owner/operator of a leading manufacturing company that was founded in 1876 when the
original Lawrence Brothers, John and Edwin, bought part ownership in a hardware store.
Working with their associate, W.D. Collins, the Lawrences were
one of the first patented producers of barbwire. Sensitive to the needs of their
customers in the farm community, the brothers began manufacturing farm products: steel
barn door hangers, a bolted wheelbarrow, rail, hay fork pulleys, and nails.
Inspired by the success of those early ventures, they sold the
hardware store and began advertising themselves as "Lawrence Brothers, Manufacturers
of Peerless & Faultless Steel Hangers & Rails, Adjustable Stay Rolls, Hay Fork
Pulleys, etc." Business flourished and they steadily expanded their product line and
broadened their market.
By the 1920's, the company had penetrated the international
market, shipping products to South America, Australia, and New Zealand.
Growth continued into the 1930's when Lawrence Brothers added
commercial ball bearing hinges to the line to become the only full-line hardware
manufacturer in the United States. Hinges were originally packed in wooden barrels
and sold for 10 cents a pair. The first commercial hinges were limited in size and
finishes. Today, Lawrence offers a 1" square hinge from it's customer line up
to a an 8" square, 1/4" guage stainless steel hinge from its commercial line,
with more than 30 finishes available. Records indicate 22 employees in 1900, growing
to 250 in 1913 when Lawrence opened a new 250,000 square foot plant. They now employ
over 250 in two manufacturing facilities that total over 500,000 square feet.
Although product line, manufacturing and marketing techniques,
and employees have changed over the years, the Lawrence tradition has not. The
corporate and family values have remained simple - integrity, quality, and innovation.