Graybar Electric Co. can trace its history back to the dawn of the electrical age—the company’s website says Elisha Gray was a child prodigy who at age 10 in 1845 built a working model of a telegraph; later taught at Oberlin College in Ohio; and invented a facsimile machine that used telegraph lines, while entrepreneur Enos Barton was a former telegraph operator who bought a Cleveland electrical manufacturer in 1869.
The two teamed up and the business took off after the Great Chicago Fire, “selling replacement equipment to Western Union, and fire alarms for other customers.”
Today, Graybar is owned by employees and retirees.
Larry Giglio, the company’s senior vice president, sees that as having “tremendous value because everybody you’re dealing with has a vested interest in taking great care of our customers.”
This article was published in the December 2014 issue of American Shipper.