Joseph Rodgers Brown
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.
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.