In 1876, the “New Industrial Revolution” was just beginning. Boats still plied the Pennsylvania Canal and other canals were under construction. The year also marked the beginning of Jackson Manufacturing. Today, nearly 135 years later, the company thrives as the nation’s oldest and largest manufacturer of wheelbarrows.
The company’s founder, Caleb Jackson, was a man with an idea, and not much else except his entrepreneurial skills and vision. As a young man, he left his job at W.H. Sullenberger and Co. a farm machinery manufacturer, to start his own wheelbarrow manufacturing company in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Jackson correctly recognized that the wheelbarrow would play a major role in the continued growth of the nation at a time when nearly everywhere one turned, earth and minerals were being moved to build or supply something. In addition to wheelbarrows in a variety of sizes and styles for different purposes, Jackson soon made steel carts for use in mines, coal yards, docks, and railroads plus steel warehouse and baggage trucks.
From the beginning, Jackson’s abilities quickly attracted the support of James Donald Cameron, one of the nation’s outstanding statesmen and one of Harrisburg’s leading citizens,. Cameron, who was at the time, a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, also served as President Grant’s Secretary of War. For many years, Cameron was a major shareholder in Jackson Manufacturing.
In September 1881, just five years after its founding, Jackson Manufacturing was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with business to be carried out in Harrisburg. The growing company boasted 10 employees and assets of over $16 thousand. James Chamberlain was unanimously elected its first president at a salary of $500 per year.
The following decade saw the purchase of several significant patent s including those for malleable iron techniques and one for a chain hoist. The latter was notable since it prompted the company to erect a 36-thousand square foot building exclusively for the manufacture of chain hoists.
The company saw a succession of strong leaders that enabled its continued growth. In 1907, James Hambay, the developer of the chain hoist patent, assumed the presidency—a position he held until his death in 1941. During his term, the company moved in 1921, to South Cameron St, a location that still serves as company headquarters.
The 1960’s saw a nearly 40,000 square foot expansion of the facility including new warehouse, shipping and office spaces. This expansion also included rail sidings for eight cars and docking facilities for 28 trucks.
The company, started with just a few hundred dollars in 1876, has continued to grow and prosper through a series of ownership changes and is now a multi-million operation that became part of the Ames family of companies in 1999.
The AMES Companies, Inc. was purchased by Griffon Corporation in September 2010. Griffon Corporation, is a diversified management and holding company that conducts business through wholly-owned subsidiaries. For more information on the Company and its operating subsidiaries, please see the Company's website at www.griffoncorp.com.