Bretting History

C.G. Bretting has served the converting and contract manufacturing industry for over 125 years.

We work to deliver reliable, durable and innovative converting equipment that meets our customers’ needs. Consistently, we exceed customer expectations and provide unsurpassed customer service. You can learn more about C.G. Bretting Manufacturing and its history through the following resources.

C.G. Bretting Manufacturing 125th Anniversary Historical Timeline

In celebration of the 125th anniversary of C.G. Bretting Manufacturing and the 5th generation of the Bretting family joining the ranks of managing the company, the team created this video timeline.

C.G. Bretting’s Historical Timeline Download

Access a print version of C.G. Bretting’s historical timeline by clicking here.

1880

It all began in 1880 when C.G. Bretting set sail for America.

 

Christopher George, commonly known as C.G., boarded the TSS Rotterdam at 26 years old.

 

Upon arriving in New York May 1, 1880, he is listed on the passenger log as C.G., a laborer from Germany.

 

When C.G. first came to America, he worked for his uncle, John C. Roth, owner of a meatpacking company in Ohio.

1882

In 1882, C.G. became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America.

1885

He traveled through the St. Louis, Missouri area where he met and married Jane Elizabeth Richards in 1885.

 

They ventured on to Fargo, North Dakota, where they welcomed their first son, Ralph Christopher. C.G. worked at the Union Pacific Railway company.

 

At that time, several businessmen were trying to generate interest in their city. They boasted that Ashland would become “the Chicago of the Northland.”

1888

One gentleman, John Parish – a businessman from Chicago, took a leap. Mr. Parish reached an agreement to build an operation in Ashland and construction began.

 

C.G. moved his family to Ashland. He began working at Parish Manufacturing and it was not long before he became the superintendent.

1890

A short time later, he purchased the Parish Manufacturing Company and renamed it C.G. Bretting Manufacturing Company. With 500 workers, it was a large operation with shops, warehouses, woodworking, foundry, and its own dock in Lake Superior.

 

From 1890 into the 1920s, the company manufactured machinery and equipment for the sawmill industry.

 

The Ashland area had the world’s largest concentration of sawmills that harvested the great white pine forests of the region.

1901

In 1901, C.G. purchased a home for his family at 222 Prentice Avenue in Ashland. This home still exists today.

 

By this time, C.G. and Jane were blessed with three sons: Ralph, Howard, and Lyman.

1904

On May 31, 1904, Christopher George Bretting passed away at 50 years old while on vacation with his wife in St. Louis.

 

He died of a heart attack at the home of Jane’s parents.

 

Jane was faced with raising 3 sons on her own.

 

Ralph was 17 . . .

 

. . . Howard was 10 . . .

 

. . . and Lyman was just 4 years old.

 

Jane and Ralph went into action to keep the business running. Jane was now president and Ralph the general manager at just 17 years old.

 

Jane was already authorized to manage the company and was often left in charge when C.G. was out of town on business.

 

With this transition in management came a transition in manufacturing. Because of the depleting number of sawmills and the increasing number of mines, Bretting began catering to the needs of the mining and shipping industry.

1926

In 1926, C.G.’s youngest son, Lyman, returned to Ashland with an engineering degree from MIT and worked for his brother Ralph.

1929

Lyman assumed the position of President and general manager in 1929 after Ralph moved to Green Bay. He was the sole operator of the company until 1958.

 

In 1929, Bretting Manufacturing began to manufacture paper converting equipment designed by and for the Marathon Paper Mill.

1950

By the 1950s, the mining industry heyday was over. Bretting reached another fork in the road.

1957

While attending the University of Notre Dame, Tad played baseball for the university.

1958

In 1958, Tad returned to Ashland with a business degree from the University of Notre Dame and went into business with his father.

 

Lyman continued to be involved with the business until he retired in 1965.

 

Tad took over sole management of the company with a dozen workers and his wife, Barbara, as the secretary.

1965

In the early 1960s, Bretting began to concentrate on the design and manufacture of paper converting equipment. The first Bretting napkin folder was shipped in 1965.

1969

A new main office was constructed in 1969.

 

The old office was torn down shortly thereafter.

1970

By the mid-1970s, the reputation of Bretting had spread and the company began receiving inquiries from all over the world.

1974

Bretting pioneered automatic count and separation and by 1974, the first automatic napkin folder shipped.

 

This allowed Bretting to lead the industry as the demand for dispenser napkins increased with the popularity of fast food restaurants.

1976

And just 2 years later, our first Interfolder machine was created.

1979

On July 20, 1979, Lyman Bretting passed away at the age of 80.

 

Lyman is pictured here with his 14 grandchildren.

1988

By 1988, the 4th generation of the Bretting family was now active in the business.

1989

In 1989, Tad was honored by the United States Small Business Administration as the national “Small Business Person of the Year.”

 

His award was presented by President George Bush.

1995

David Bretting was named chief operating officer in 1995.

1997

By 1997, Tad turned over the company to his sons David and Paul. David took the role of president and chief executive officer.

 

And Paul took the role of chief operating officer.

1999

Tad was inducted into the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in 1999.

2001

Contract manufacturing services (also known as CMS) expanded its offering to customers throughout the Midwest in 2001 by providing fabrication, machining, and assembly to a variety of industries.

2002

In 2002, Bretting introduced the LCi series equipment at Tissue World Americas.

2003

On September 12, 2003, Tad Bretting passed away at the age of 67.

 

Tad and Barbara pictured here with their grandchildren.

 

Tad and Barbara Bretting

2005

Bretting introduced the Elite Series Napkin Folder in 2005.

2006

2006 marked the introduction of the High Speed Multifold Towel Interfolder.

2009

Bretting acquired polywrapping technology in 2009 to begin sales and service of polywrappers.

2010

The company was granted the Management System Standard ISO Certification in 2010. This designation validates company commitment to quality in design, manufacturing, and service.

2011

March 5, 2011, Bretting acquired S&S Specialty Systems in Iron River, Wisconsin, offering expansion into the non-wovens market. Concurrently, the company entered the bag machine market using S&S as the center of operation.

2015

This year, we welcomed two Brettings to the company. Ricky Bretting . . .

 

. . . and Shawn Bretting as mechanical engineers.

2016

In 2016, two more Brettings joined the company. Tad Bretting as assistant assembly supervisor . . .

and Blake Bretting, sales and marketing.

2016

S&S Specialty Systems, LLC, is renamed Absolut Manufacturing, LLC.

2016

Bretting enters the digital print market. The first Bretting digital print napkin line is shipped.

2016

The Life Multifold Interfolder is rolled out.

2019

The first ATOM line is introduced.

2019

Brand new 30,000 square foot facility is built for Absolut Manufacturing.

2019

T&T Manufacturing, LLC, is added to the Bretting family of companies.

 

Bretting has been fortunate to commemorate 125 years of heritage, pride, and manufacturing in Ashland with its excellent work ethic and stable work force.

 

With over 400 employees, the company, which spans over 280,000 square feet, supplies converting equipment and service to 39 countries involving 17 different languages.

 

The goal to remain focused on the customer and to offer quality products in an ever-changing marketplace is still the driving force at Bretting.
We deliver on our promise, earning the right to be the customer’s choice.