Please note

Because of the lack of published trowel and masonry tool histories, the information here is based on other sources that may be less reliable and certainly are incomplete. These include eBay and tools that I purchase myself that are the starting points for my research. I will write what I know as I learn it. If what you read here interests you, please check back often and look for revisions and corrections. Scanned catalogs are either mine or by Rose Antique Tools and used with permission, and are on Google Docs as pdf files. A few are links to other websites. Your photos and information are welcome. Please click on any picture to enlarge it. Comments are welcome, but any with links will be deleted as possible spam.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

History of W. Rose, Part Two

In William Rose and the Early History of W. Rose & Brothers, we covered the business from its beginning to when the Rose family sold it in 1894 to O.B. Goodwin. Octavius Barrell Goodwin was born 23 Jul. 1839 in Maine, and his family was well-off enough to send him to Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1862. He entered the petroleum business in Oil City, PA. We do not yet know what led him to enter tool manufacturing, but he remained active in the oil industry, as did his son.
W. Rose West Phila. in White, Van Glahn & Co. 1902 catalog  
Under Goodwin's ownership, the business retained an agent, the noted Wiebusch & Hilger, Ltd. of New York City. W. Rose began advertising in national trade publications, which proliferated at the turn of the century. Between 1909 and 1916, the firm dropped West Philadelphia as the location from their stamp, so it read, "W ROSE". The business incorporated in 1943, and this is apparently when the name changed from William Rose & Brothers to W. Rose, Inc. The earliest reference I found in print was 1946.

W. Rose advertisement in The Bricklayer, Mason and Plasterer, 1916 
O.B. Goodwin died 14 Jan. 1908 in Philadelphia, and his son became president of W. Rose & Brothers. George Kendrick Goodwin was born 9 Sept. 1881 in Oil City, PA, and received a mechanical engineering degree from Lehigh University in 1904. After just 10 years as president, the business made this announcement in trade publications in 1918:

"Wm. Rose and Bros., makers of the well-known W. Rose trowels and other tools, announce that George K. Goodwin has retired from the firm. The business will be continued by Joseph G. Thatford, at its present location, Sharon Hill, Pa., under the same name."

Joseph G. Thatford was born 17 June 1868 in Philadelphia, and died Nov. 10, 1954 in Delaware County, PA. He began working for W. Rose at about age 20, and by the 1910 U.S. Census he was their plant manager. According to his obituary, he worked for W. Rose for 65 years. Thatford has a US Patent for a manufacturing process for plasterer's trowels. It is not known if Thatford was also part owner of W. Rose. Despite the implications of the 1918 announcement, the Goodwin family retained ownership. George Goodwin's obituary said he retired as president of W. Rose in March 1966.

George Goodwin married Emily H. Stocking (1875–1940), born in Urumiah, Ajerbigan, Persia. It seems probable that their meeting had a connection with the petroleum business. George and Emily had 2 daughters. One of those, Gertrude Murdoch Goodwin, was born 17 Mar. 1909, and received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1931. She distinguished herself enough at at college and in her career that the Gertrude Goodwin Papers are held by the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Gertrude Goodwin went to work as a mechanical engineer at W. Rose soon after graduating. In 1967 she became president of W. Rose, and ran the business until her retirement in 1989. She never married, and lived in what had been her parent's home at 300 N. Sharon Ave., in Sharon Hill, within walking distance of the W. Rose plant. She died 15 Dec. 1997.

When Ms. Goodwin retired, all of the W. Rose stock was sold to employee Edward B. King, whose 3 sons also worked for W. Rose. Edward King (29 Dec. 1925 -  22 Nov. 2011) retired at age 67 in 1992, after 52 years at W. Rose. Glenn King became president, Larry J. King was production manager, and Edward J. King was in charge of maintenance.

In 2001, Kraft Tool Co. purchased W. Rose, Inc. from the King family, and they have continued the tradition of craftsmanship that began with the first William Rose.

W. Rose 1917 advertisement
Through the ownership and management changes that W. Rose has seen in more than 2 centuries, there are a number of qualities that have remained constant and which set W. Rose apart. First, the quality of their tools has remained high. Second, Rose has always had management that valued stability in all aspects of the business. Third, their employees are dedicated and some have worked for the company for decades. It is near-certain that there is an unbroken chain of employees going back to William Rose and Sons. Next, W. Rose has always been privately held, and not subjected to the variations of the stock market or the whims of a conglomerate, holding company, or venture capitalists. Next, they have never over-diversified their product line. Last, W. Rose is the only US tool manufacturer I am aware of that has been run by 2 women at different times. Having one woman as manager or owner is very rare, and having 2 is completely unique.


More material will be added to this article. If you have family photos or other material, please contact me.

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