Elisha Gray, an inventor, and Enos Barton, an entrepreneur, founded Gray & Barton in Cleveland, Ohio in 1869. In 1872, this partnership became Western Electric Company, which supplied telegraph components to the Western Union Telegraph Company. After the invention of the telephone, Western Electric became the exclusive manufacturer of the telephone equipment for the Bell System.
By the early 1900s, Western had grown to be one of the largest manufacturing concerns in the world. Western Electric also managed a thriving electrical distribution business, furnishing its customers with non-telephone products made by other manufacturers. This electrical distribution business was spun off from Western Electric and organized into a separate company, Graybar Electric Company, Inc., in 1925. Graybar employees bought their company in 1929.
The corporate headquarters moved from the Graybar Building in New York City to St. Louis in 1982.
In January 2000, the Graybar Electric Company created Graybar Canada to manage the growth of their Canadian operations.
Harris and Roome Supply was founded by J. Arthur Harris and R.E.G. Roome in 1920 under the name Harris & Roome Limited. Initially, the firm did business as a small general wholesale shop selling guns, canoes and electrical supplies in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In 1963, Mr. Harris and Mr. Roome sold their business to H.C. Roberts and A. MacDonald, employees of General Electric. After the purchase, Roberts and MacDonald initiated an aggressive growth plan, expanding the electrical and electronics sides of the business respectively, and opening a new location in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
In 1978 Roberts and MacDonald split up their different business operations. There in after, Roberts partnered with operations manager F. H. Hughes, becoming president and vice president respectively.
By 1983 Harris and Roome had 5 locations, which grew to 12 locations after the acquisition of the Atlantic operations of GESCAN (General Electric’s Canadian electrical distribution arm). By the end of the 1990’s, Harris and Roome had added another seven branches, all the while maintaining a local feel and keeping strong ties to the community.
In 1991, Graybar purchased an interest in Harris and Roome. Over the next six years, they became a majority shareholder, completing the acquisition in 1997.
Frank Ellis and Sam Howard launched Ellis & Howard in August of 1913 in a barn on David Street in Kitchener, Ontario. The business began as an electrical contractor, wiring homes and industries to the new electrical distribution system in Ontario. As demand increased, electrical fixtures, appliances and materials were added to the business.
In 1924 they discontinued the electrical wiring business and specialized in the wholesale of electrical goods. The business enjoyed success from the 1920’s until the 1990’s, weathering recessions and the Great Depression.
On October 2, 1992, Graybar Electric purchased the firms' assets and employed all of the firms’ 80 employees. The Graybar purchase marked a new beginning for all and has resulted in significant growth over the years.
After the creation of Graybar Canada in 2000, the brands of Harris & Roome Supply (Atlantic) and Graybar Electric (Ontario) Limited came together as Graybar Canada.
In November of 2001, after the first share offering, over 40% of Graybar Canada employees became shareholders in Graybar Canada.
Under the new Graybar Canada organization, we started our aggressive organic growth plan opening a new comm./data branch in Calgary, Alberta in 2003 followed by the opening of a full-line electrical and comm./data branch in Ottawa in 2005. The Markham branch and national wire & cable warehouse opened in 2007, along with the Vancouver comm/data branch and electrical expansion of the Calgary branch.
Currently, Graybar Canada operates 30 locations across the country; each operating with the integrity and drive of a neighbourhood business. Headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Graybar Canada continues to be a thriving employee-owned company.