160 Years of being “Well Built”
Though the history of Wilson Bohannan Lock Company does not begin in Marion, Ohio, it does in Brooklyn, New York, in 1860. Out of a small shop set up in the garage behind Wilson Bohannan’s modest home, he and his son Wilson Todd Bohannan began assembling padlocks. This was the same year he received his first patent.
Their success didn’t happen overnight, but finally, in 1888, the business was incorporated and booming, with a factory in Brooklyn and their locks found world-wide. In 1893, the company received five awards at the Chicago World’s Fair.
In 1926, the Brooklyn factory was nearly 40 years old and a new generation of the family, under Wilson Bohannan Tway, decided it was time for a move. Tway had traveled across the country while in the army and, at one time, stopped in Marion. He appreciated the relaxed atmosphere.
But, Marion also offered great railroad shipping for products and materials, so the company was relocated here. Today, in 2020, the Wilson Bohannan Lock Company can boast that it is still American and Marion-made and seven generations of the original family have worked to keep the business vital and well respected in the security industry.
The family now consists of Howard Smith, company president, who was married to Pam Smith, the sixth-generation owner before she passed away in 2013, and their daughters, Sarah Rassell and Trish Kozlik. Each daughter has a strong commitment to the company, with Trish managing human relations and Sarah communications and community relations. “We feel strongly that it is important to invest in the company to keep it top in the industry,” stated Howard Smith.
The people that make the company strong are far more than just the family. There is a strong commitment from local people who have chosen to spend their lives with Wilson Bohannan. Randy Dawson, Vice President of Operations, will celebrate his 42nd anniversary in April with the company. He shared, “The company has always allowed the employees to be heard, involved and have opportunities for advancement. I am an example of this, starting out as a polisher on the line. It is a team effort here. That is our strength.”
This is also shown in their top five officers — Mark Williams, Bruce Valentino, Craig Stone, Howard Smith, and Randy, who have 180 years of experience with Wilson Bohannan. It is not unusual for their employees to be dedicated enough to the company to recommend their children to join the company. Diana Brammer recently retired, as did her husband; she was an Associate for over 40 years while her daughter, Jessica Lamb, continues as a Customer Service representative. There are many such family connections, showing their trust in Wilson Bohannan to provide a good workplace for their families. They are part of a dedicated team of 72 employees.
What has not been shared about the Wilson Bohannan story here is about the padlocks and locking devices. They are known for their durability, quality, and precision, made with the finest solid brass and stainless steel available. They are adaptable, can be custom-made, rust and weather-proof, secure and have a lifetime guarantee. They are the lock of choice of the US Naval Service. Their locks have been shipped and found around the world and in the last year shipped to the Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and Canada. In today’s world of electronics and computer chips, the mechanical lock is the ultimate security device, especially in case of power failures.
The Marion plant remains innovative and constantly invests in improvements at the 42,000-square facility. They are building hi-tech sustainable processes to continue to be viable into the future. Their products also go through a rigorous quality control system to ensure the quality and security of their locks.
In the next year, Wilson Bohannan will bring back their 1930s marketing campaign of being “Well Built,” which is the perfect way to describes these quality padlocks and locking devices and the people that make them. The new slogan is “What can we build for you?” We encourage you to learn more about their rich history and quality products by visiting their website- www.padlocks.com. Marion should be proud to be the home of the oldest continuous lock makers in the world- Wilson Bohannan padlocks.