With a history that spans more than 230 years, Ames’ growth and operation parallels the expansion of the United States in both peace and wartime.
When pioneering blacksmith, Captain John Ames, began making America’s first metal shovels in 1774, colonists were just beginning their quest for independence. For a country that was literally building from the ground up, quality metal shovels and other tools quickly became essential components in nearly every endeavor that built our nation.
Ames shovels were used in numerous landmark events including the groundbreaking for the B & O Railroad in Baltimore; the building of the transcontinental railroad; the search for California gold in the 1840’s; the installation of the Statue of Liberty; Admiral Byrd’s exploration of Antarctica; the building of the Hoover Dam; the creation of Mount Rushmore and the construction of the interstate highway system.
The family-owned company grew to become an industrial leader during the 19th century. In the 1870’s Ames produced more than 5,000 shovels each day - 60 percent of the world’s production of metal shovels. Around that time, Oakes Ames, one of the owners, invented a handle bending machine to efficiently produce the famous Ames bend, a revolutionary shovel design in its time.
Originally located in Massachusetts, the company began its long tradition of supplying shovels and other tools for war efforts during the Revolutionary War. The company has continued supporting United States war efforts for more than two centuries. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln personally asked Ames to supply shovels to the Union army. When World War I battles exposed troops to the dangers of rapid machine gunfire, Ames played an integral role in supplying the tools to dig protective trenches. The efforts continued during WWII when Ames produced 11 million entrenching tools, armored tank plating and shell casings for American forces. In 1964, Ames was awarded a contract to produce for the army, a hand entrenching tool consisting of a folding blade, pick and hickory handle. During the next three years, Ames produced 1.6 million of these tools. And, to help in the Vietnam War efforts, Ames was awarded an order to produce 275,000 folding lightweight entrenching tools.
The company remained family owned until the 1950’s. Several ownership changes and product line acquisitions brought continued growth to the company. By the late 1980’s, Ames sales exceeded $100 million. In 1999, Ames purchased True Temper from the Huffy Corporation and now operates as The AMES Companies, Inc. headquartered in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
The AMES Companies, Inc. was purchased by Griffon Corporation in September 2010. Griffon Corporation, is a diversified management and holding company that conducts business through wholly-owned subsidiaries. For more information on the Company and its operating subsidiaries, please see the Company's website at www.griffoncorp.com.