HISTORY

THE HISTORY OF BARTLETT BEARING

  • Jul 1, 2021

    The 1940s

    Tom Bartlett began working for Ahlberg Bearings as a salesman in Detroit in the late 1940’s after coming home from the war. He meets his soon-to-be wife, Gladys, the two get married, and they buy a house in Detroit. Soon after, Tom is offered a position in Philadelphia and the newlywed couple moves east. Knowing the Philadelphia branch would not be a successful venture for Ahlberg, Tom returns to Detroit to wrap up business dealings before deciding to venture out on his own in 1949.

  • Jul 1, 2021

    The 1950s

    The Bartlett family moves back to Philadelphia in 1951and Tom starts his own business with a few connections, a small loan, and an idea. Bartlett Bearing Company is officially founded, and Tom begins to sell bearings to motor shops out of the trunk of his car. He sourced his products through connections he made during the war, storing any available stock in his garage, and targeted small repair shops as his primary customer base. The first decade saw success as Tom’s salesmanship flourished as his wife handled finances and general business upkeep. The pair opened their first office location on Fairmount Avenue. Gladys coins the slogan “Bearing You in Mind.” By 1952, Hoover Bearing Company authorizes Bartlett to distribute its products.

  • Jul 1, 2021

    The 1960s

    Bartlett Bearing begins a partnership with NTN, a Japanese manufacturer after they started recruiting small distributors. At this point, Bartlett Bearing had few authorized lines. Japanese brands were not yet popular among domestic buyers, and many would not use the product, but it served as the first major line Bartlett could market. This was followed by being authorized by other Japanese lines and then a small Austria manufacturer, Steyr Bearings.

    The family embraces the “family-owned and operated” mantra by recruiting the work of the family’s tiniest hands. Julie, the family’s youngest daughter, recalls going to the office with her mother as a teen, where she would listen to the radio as she learned to bag, box, and stamp products. When the Philadelphia branch changes locations from its founding on Fairmount Avenue to its next home on Spring Garden Avenue, Julie became her mother’s unofficial assistant.

  • Jul 1, 2021

    The 1970s

    The 1970s saw the Bartlett children begin their careers in the family business. Tom, the family’s second-oldest child would start at Bartlett Bearing, and Sandy, the family’s third oldest daughter would begin shortly after in 1973. By 1976, Bartlett Bearing would open its second location in Baltimore after a decade of growth. Vic McDevitt started that same year as a warehouse worker and has worn many hats in the company – he now sits as the Vice President of Sales. Gayle, the family’s third oldest child began working for the company in 1977. She would assume ownership of the business in 1991 when her father officially retired.

  • Jul 1, 2021

    The 1980s

    Bill Potts starts with the company in 1980 as a salesman, who would stay with the company until he retired in 2018, where he held the title of Vice President of Operations.

  • Jul 1, 2021

    The 1990s

    Julie officially begins working for the family business in 1992 handling payroll, investing, and correspondence editing. She would then move to work in the Baltimore branch in 1996 until its closure in 2003. Bartlett Bearing opened its third location in Charlotte, NC in 1998. The branch would change locations in 2003, where it still stands today in Gastonia, NC.

  • Jul 1, 2021

    The 2000s

    The early 2000s saw a formal authorization of the company to hold other major bearing lines, such as Schaeffler, Timken, and SKF. Bartlett Bearing opens two new locations: Hebron, KY in 2005, and Pelham, AL in 2007. 

  • Jul 1, 2021

    The 2010s

    Bartlett Bearing opens two more locations: Tampa, FL in 2013 and Grain Valley, MO in 2017. Mike Pulley joins the Bartlett team in 2014 and now serves as the National Sales Manager.

  • Jul 1, 2021

    2021

    Today, Bartlett Bearing is proud to celebrate 70 years of business with 6 locations nationwide.

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