In 1854, Norris Hubbard Bragg and Sumner Basford founded a blacksmith supply business, Bragg & Basford. The company opened its doors on Broad Street in downtown Bangor, Maine along the Kenduskeag River and remained there for 112 years.
By 1863, Norris was running the company himself and was pleased to welcome his son Norris Everett into the company in 1867-changing the company name to N.H. Bragg & Son. Unfortunately, Norris did not live to see his younger son, Charles, become part of the company, or to see its name change yet again to N.H. Bragg & Sons.
In 1905, the company incorporated with Charles serving as president and his son Franklin Everett Bragg as treasurer. By this time, N.H. Bragg & Sons had added Model T Ford parts to its inventory - the start of nine decades in the auto parts business.
As coal and bellows were replaced by oxygen and acetylene, N.H. Bragg & Sons began delivering welding cylinders to its customers in the 1950s. Charles F. Bragg II took on the role of president following the death of his father, Franklin. In 1967, the company relocated to its current Perry Road location in Bangor.
Charles F. Bragg II retired in 1980. His nephew G. Clifton Eames became president, and soon the company opened auto supply stores in Fairfield and Winslow, the first of thirteen branch locations.
John W. Bragg
Charles F. Bragg II
G. Clifton Eames II
After Clif's retirement in 1992, John W. Bragg became president. As the economy shifted yet again, John Bragg oversaw the selling of the automotive division and the rebranding of the company name to NH Bragg in 2004 and the selling of the welding division in 2008.
Today, NH Bragg is still family-owned and operated by sixth generation Jon Eames, who became president of the company in 2011.
A seventh generation, Eames' son, Ben Eames and stepson, Ben Marchese, are now both working for the company.
For 56 years-from 1948 until 2004-N.H. Bragg & Sons used a wagon wheel as its logo along with the slogan "Keeping the Wheels Turning Since 1854." Here's why?
According to legend, the logo depicts wagon wheels ordered by N.H. Bragg & Sons in the late 1800's for a circus owner who'd left town-along with his show-by the time the wheels were delivered. Although there are those who say no NH Bragg employee would have risked ordering anything for a traveling circus on its way in and out of town, the fact is the famous wooden wheels still exist. One is on display at the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor and the other hangs on the wall in our Bangor warehouse.
For at least 50 years, the wheels were mounted at either end of the former Bragg buildings on Broad Street in Bangor serving as symbolic trade signs and reflecting an important aspect of our business in the early days: the sale of wagon wheels and their components-spokes, rims, hubs and tire iron.
And, although we're not sure just why we have them, we do know where the wheels came from: the Archibald Wheel Company of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
In fact, according to Knowles' Bangor Business Almanac of 1875, along with N.H. Bragg & Sons, the Archibald Wheel Company was at the forefront of its industry: "[N.H. Bragg & Sons] have also been the special agency for the sale of the improved cast-iron hubbed wheels, manufactured by the Archibald Wheel Co., of Lawrence, Mass., which are taking the place of the wooden hub for heavy carriages."
Although the wheel symbol served us well for many years-in 2004, we shortened our name to NH Bragg. We refreshed the logo and changed our slogan to "Industrial Supplies and Solutions since 1854", which was updated again in 2014 to include both Safety and Service.
But, we're still wondering who ordered those wheels.