It all started when the “War of 1812” interrupted the supply of buttons coming into the United State from England. Aaron Benedict formed the beginning of what was to become The Waterbury Button Company and began to melt down pewter pots and pans in order to make buttons for military uniforms.
After 22 years of manufacturing under frequently changing partnership agreements, the firm took on a general partner, Gordon W. Burnham, and the name of the company change to “Benedict & Burnham” in 1834.
In 1838, the firm of “Benedict & Burnham” became “Benedict & Burnham Mfg. Co., one of the new nation’s first caster of brass. In 1849, with increasingly diverse interest in the brass industry, the “Benedict & Burnham Mfg. Co. formed “The Waterbury Button Company”, solely for the manufacture of buttons and uniform accessories. With a reputation as a reliable supplier of high quality buttons “The Waterbury Button Company” continued to make buttons for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
As the “Civil War” opened in 1861, the Company found itself supplying buttons to both sides of the conflict. While Union Forces bought direct, the Confederate Forces dealt through British intermediaries.
In the mid-1860’s the Company embarked as a pioneer in the field of molding products of shellac composition, the first plastic material to be molded in this country. From the earliest days of the plastics industry, the Company established itself as a leading and outstanding producer of plastic products. During the “Gay Nineties” and into the early 1920’s the Company (also) become involved in the toy business, making such items as airplanes, candy banks and zeppelins.
In 1929,operating under the name of “Multiplane Aircraft Corp.”, The Waterbury Button Company” built an experimental aircraft called the “Multiplane. It was powered by a Curtis Challenger engine that was manufactured by Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company.
In 1943, because of the diversification of it product lines the company changed its name from “The Waterbury Button Company” to “Waterbury Companies”. By then, the company was making products that ranged from sintered metal Medals for service awards to hundreds of plastic products (children’s phonograph records, lamp shades, laundry tubs, etc.).
In 1960 the company built a new plant in Randolph, VT to handle its expanding plastics product lines. Later, in 1974, it added another plant in Biddeford, ME to handle more of the injection molding and thermo set plastic products.
In 1966, the Button Division (of Waterbury Companies) moved from its South Main Street location into a new 50,000 sq. ft. facility in Pierpont Industrial Park for the sole purpose of making buttons and related metal products.
In 1968 “Waterbury Companies, Inc.” became a “wholly owned” subsidiary of “Talley Industries, Inc.” Phoenix, AZ.
In 1994 “Waterbury Companies” acquired the assets of “Cheshire Button Company” (AKA “The Ball & Socket Company”), a company in the button business since 1845. “Cheshire Button” had a major presence in the mid/low fashion market. This move enabled the Button Division to expand into the fashion industry, while maintaining its hold on the military and uniform industry.
In 1999 “Carpenter Technologies, Inc.” purchased all of “Talley Industries” assets in order to obtain 2 stainless steel mills owned by “Talley”. The other “Talley” assets were put up for sale.
At this point in history, “Waterbury Companies” management and private investors formed an organization called “The Waterbury Acquisition Group” and purchased “Waterbury Companies” from Carpenter Technologies”.
In 2000 “Waterbury Acquisitions Group” (the owners of Waterbury Companies) was heading in a different direction – away from metal fabrications and into pesticides and chemical fragrances. As such, they decided to divest themselves of the Button Division (“The Waterbury Button Company”).
On January 24, 2000, OGS Technologies, Inc., a privately owned corporation currently under the ownership of two partners (Sal Geraci and Michael Salamone) purchased the assets of “The Waterbury Button Company” from “Waterbury Companies, Inc. The company quickly formed 2 separate divisions – The Waterbury Button Company and Diversified Eyelets. While the Button division continued to supply the military and fashion industries, the Eyelet division forged ahead into supplying components for the cosmetic and automotive industries, in addition to supporting the Button division’s product lines.
In 2002 the Company moved out of Waterbury, where it had operated for the past 190 years, into a neighboring town (Cheshire, CT) – where it remains today.
In September 2003 OGS Technologies added a new division, when it purchased the assets of the Northeast Emblem and Badge Company. Since the Button division was already supplying Uniform buttons to Public Safety personnel (Police and Firefighters) – it was a good compliment to the organization.
With the acquisition of Northeast Emblem and Badge the Company became a supplier of badges; insignia and accessories used by law enforcement and emergency response personnel at local, state and federal levels and is expanding into foreign markets.
In 2010, “OGS Technologies, Inc.” acquired the assets of “Cop Shop LLC”. With “Cop Shop’s” (almost) 200 company stores throughout the United States, the company entered the retail market of supplying Public Service Personnel with Apparel; Commemorative Coins; Plaques and Equipment used by Public Service Personnel.
In 2011, “Northeast Emblem & Badge Company” changed its name to “National Emblem & Badge Company” and began focusing its efforts in dealing with law enforcement agencies direct, on a national level; supplying them with high quality items at the least possible costs.
Its oldest division and the “seed” of the organization “Waterbury Button” continues to expanded into markets supplying accessories (cuff links, letter openers, blazer sets, etc.) for colleges, companies and specialized organizations – in addition to its line of historical commemorative plaques (“Civil War” collection, “World Trade Center” tragedy and the like).
With over 40,000 items and different dies in stock (each a masterful work of art) “The Waterbury Button Company” has produced buttons from just about every Railroad, Airline and Police Department that comes to mind – in addition to thousands of clubs and organizations throughout the world.
Fashion lines such as Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Ellen Tracy, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Jeans and Brooks Brothers are just some of the clothing designers that specify Waterbury Buttons for products bearing their name.
Specialty Markets for organizations such as The Masters Golf Tournament, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Delta Airlines and The American Legion is just a sampling of organizations that require Waterbury Buttons for their uniforms or blazers.
The “Waterbury Button Company” has a long and proud history and is the only metal button manufacturer in the United Stated that can claim to have supplied buttons worn by all of our American fighting forces all over the world.
Entering the 21st Century, using modern technology coupled with the hand skill developed by those that came before us – we continue the tradition of manufacturing quality products, never losing sight of our historical past. Just to put it into perspective – Captain Smith and his crew wore buttons that the Company manufactured for the “White Star Line”, the owner of the ill-fated TITANIC. When the TITANIC sank on her maiden voyage in 1912, The Waterbury Button Company” was already 100 years old.