Brown & Sharpe
David Brown
Joseph Rodgers Brown
Lucian Sharpe

1833  Partnership is formed between David Brown and his son Joseph. Firm is called David Brown & Son, located at 60 South Main St. in Providence; making and repairing clocks and watches.

1848  Lucian Sharpe begins his apprenticeship with Joseph R. Brown

1853  Joseph takes on Lucian as a partner. Firm is renamed J. R. Brown & Sharpe 

1855  The company begins producing the vernier caliper

1861  Introduction of the Universal Milling Machine which is the first machine to cut twist drills; is also used in the making of rifle barrels for the Union Army during the civil war.

1868 The business is incorporated as Brown & Sharpe Mfg. Co. having 14 employees.
*Note:  Of interest because this firm had 60 employees in 1860. An example of men losing their jobs to the new machinery available.

1872   Company relocates to Promenade Street in Providence.

1875    First Universal Grinding Machine is produced.

1876   Joseph R. Brown dies

1898   Company grows to 1,500 employees as it increasingly specializes in the machine tool industry.

1899   Lucian Sharpe dies, replaced by Henry D. Sharpe, who resists expanding beyond its machine tool origins.

1932   Machine orders fall during the great depression; work force shrinks to 1,300.

1941    The International Association of Machinists and others organize workers. Strikes occur in 1942, 1943 and 1944.

1943   Employment tops 11,000 workers.

1951   A 13 week strike shuts down the company.

1956   Company expands internationally, opening a plant in England.  Other European plants are acquired in the coming years.

1964   Company moves to a new building on Frenchtown Road in North Kingstown.

1970   Machine Tool orders are down 58 percent, company lays off 700 employees.

1975   Engineers stage 7-week strike.

1980   Company reports profits of $14.5 million on sales of $227.5 million, with 4,400 workers in Rhode Island, Michigan and North Carolina as well as four foreign countries.

1981   Machinists stage one of the longest strikes in American History.

1991   Company stops making its signature machinery, citing years of losses from foreign competitors; lays off 270 workers.

1996   Henry D. Sharpe resigns as chairman.

1997   Company lays off about 140 workers in its European plants.

1998  Thermo Electron's off to buy Brown & Sharpe for $15.50 a share is rejected.

1999   Company lays off 230 workers at four plants in the United Kingdom.

March 2000   Financial losses mount; Frank T. Curtin is replaced as chairman, president and CEO by Kenneth N. Kermes.

April 2000   Company reports losses of $42.9 million on sales of $322 million. It has 2,400 employees, including 450 in Rhode Island.

July 2000   Unable to resolve its problems with creditors, company considers putting itself up for sale or merger.

November 2000  Company announces sale of main business to Hexagon A.B. of Stockholm, Sweden.

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