Wagner History — A Family Legacy Rich in Tradition
Since our origin in 1850, The Wagner Companies has been committed to creating and manufacturing innovative metal products for the fabricating industry in an atmosphere that is prosperous for our customers and employees. Our mission is to maintain the highest standard of quality and service, and continuously improve our manufacturing methods. We are proud of our progress and growth, and are aware of the responsibility of maintaining our leadership and our reputation.
– Bob Wagner CEO
With a legacy that stretches all the way back to 1850, the current success of the company is a testament to the fundamental principles and products it was founded upon so many years ago. Still operated by the fourth generation of the Wagner family, the company’s roots are based in the pioneering iron work established by Julius Wagner over 160 years ago.
History of The Wagner Companies
- Julius Wagner starts a blacksmith shop in Buffalo, NY.
- Julius Wagner moves to Milwaukee, WI and opens an iron shop.
- Adolph F. Wagner begins working at the J. F. Wagner Iron Works and becomes owner in 1890.
- Adolph A. Wagner joins his father, Adolph F. Wagner, at the A. F. Wagner Iron Works in 1923. Founder of what we now know as R & B Wagner, Inc., Adolph A. Wagner grew up in Milwaukee. Under the Wagners’ creative hands, the Iron Works becomes one of the city’s largest and most important industrial enterprises. The company fabricates structural steel, miscellaneous and ornamental iron, wire work and metal products for all types of industrial, manufacturing, municipal and residential buildings; and bridge and viaduct railings. The A. F. Wagner Iron Works is known for bridges throughout the country.
- Adolph A. Wagner develops the hydraulically-operated tractor loader and acquires the first patents. Wagner dominates the market until 1953, when other companies begin to compete with the loaders.
- Adolph finds his capacity for invention as strong as ever. At the age of 59, he begins working on the products that R & B Wagner, Inc. is famous for today. With his basement as his workshop, he designs approximately 40 products – basic fittings, including two sizes of elbows, flanges and connectors. Today, those forty-some products have grown into over 1100 catalog items.
- Advance Stamping Co., Inc. is purchased. The companies had been operating in the same location with Advance Stamping manufacturing the products that R & B Wagner, Inc. distributed.
- Robert A. Wagner joins his father, Adolph A. Wagner, in the business, upon receiving a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
- Barbara Wagner Karol joins the Wagner team.
- Advance Stamping purchases Superior Polishing to provide in-house polishing services.
- The company moves to a 7700 square foot facility on Milwaukee’s northwest side.
- Johann Tube and Pipe Benders, Inc. is purchased. Johann was established in 1935 to serve the bending and end forming needs of local industrial firms.
- J. G. Braun Co. of Skokie, Illinois joins the Wagner family. With a history that dates to 1887, the Braun reputation, product line and staff expertise add to the continued success and strength of Wagner.
- R & B Wagner, Inc., J.G. Braun Co., Advance Stamping Co. Inc., Johann Tube and Pipe Benders, Inc. and Wagner Ornamental combine to form one legal entity – R & B Wagner, Inc.
- The three facilities of R & B Wagner, Inc. in Wisconsin move to one central location
- 10600 West Brown Deer Road on Milwaukee’s north side.
- R & B Wagner, Inc. celebrates its 50th Anniversary! A Calypso waterjet cutter is added and H & R Polishing is purchased to expand Wagner’s custom polishing capabilities.
- R & B Wagner, Inc. has 27 presses – many with coil feeds, straighteners and coil handling equipment: 15 rotary benders, 2 induction benders, 2 roll benders, saws, cut-off machines, 12 polishing and finishing machines, welders, hand finishers, a complete tool and die shop with CNC milling and wire EDM machines, CNC lathe, and material handling and storage equipment to meet the needs of our customers.
- This was Wagner’s year to focus on ISO certification and education. The Wagner staff became more effective at doing their jobs. Customer Service, Sales, Engineering, Manufacturing, Quality and Accounting all benefitted from ISO. Wagner added CNC equipment in several areas, including a 6-axis tube laser. Wagner’s product focus continued to be on code compliant products and handrail systems.
- Following nine years as Chief Operations Officer, Rick Kettler is promoted to President of The Wagner Companies with Bob Wagner continuing in his role as CEO.
- Addition of Architectural Glass Systems – a line of glass spiders and hardware for structural glass façades and curtainwall.
- New ERP implementation to better meet the requirements of the changing marketplace.
- New Fiber Optic Flat Laser replaces Water Jet to increase efficiency and capabilities.
- Launch of new shopwagner.com.
- Wagner 60th Anniversary