From its humble beginnings in 1869 as Gray & Barton to becoming one of North America’s largest employee-owned companies, Graybar has served as the vital link in the supply chain working to the advantage of its suppliers and customers.
Graybar is not only one of the oldest and most established distributors in the industry, but it’s also one of the most successful companies in business history. And if history tells us anything, it’s that Graybar is more than just an electrical distributor. In fact, Graybar is really more like one large family whose timeless values – integrity, employee ownership, long-term view and customer focus – will always be at the foundation of the company.
Graybar’s history is a collective story of individuals who have worked together to overcome the most challenging of obstacles to achieve greatness, starting with entrepreneur Enos Barton and inventor Elisha Gray who co-founded Gray & Barton in 1869. Today, Graybar is a FORTUNE 500 corporation and a leader in the distribution of high quality electrical supplies, communications equipment and networking products.
Like any good story, Graybar’s legendary history features a cast of characters who defined and transformed the company into what it is today.
Continue to the next chapter: Entrepreneurial Spirit
Born with the entrepreneurial spirit to one day lead a company, Enos Barton risked everything to co-found Gray and Barton, and built it from the ground up.
A superb craftsman and telegraph maker, George Shawk owned a small manufacturing shop in Cleveland, which he would later co-own with Enos Barton and eventually sell his share to Elisha Gray.
Fascinated by all things electric, Elisha Gray was a renowned inventor of more than 70 patents who partnered with Enos Barton to form Gray and Barton.
The general superintendent of the Western Union Telegraph Company who helped Gray and Barton transform into the Western Electric Company through his integral business relationships.
The ninth richest man in American history, a railroad tycoon and financier who led Western Union to become one of the most profitable companies in the country.
Inventor and scientist who is credited with the patent of the telephone and a founding member of the National Geographic Society.
As Graybar’s first president in 1925, Salt was a publicity mastermind and wasted no time in making Graybar a household name.