Any company that has been in business as long as we have is going to have weathered a few storms. Not many, however, can claim comebacks quite as dramatic as Marshall & Bruce’s. In 2015, we celebrated our 150th anniversary – and it was an eventful century and a half.
Marshall & Bruce opened its doors on October 25, 1865 as a book bindery with the “value of equipment not exceeding $300,” and in 1869, bought a small printing office. Over the next several decades, the company grew steadily. But in 1895, Andrew Marshall and J.H. Bruce would be challenged by a devastating fire that destroyed everything. Within seven months they had rebuilt a four-story building on the same site.
Boom and (almost) bust.
In 1904, Marshall & Bruce secured the printing contract for the Southern Baptist Convention and a year later, moved the business to a new 50,000 square foot building on 4th Avenue North, adopting the slogan “we print anything.” It probably comes as no surprise that this building was equipped with auto-sprinklers to the tune of $50,000. For the next 35 years, the company’s business centered largely on supplying the Baptist Sunday School Board. When the Baptist contract was unexpectedly terminated in 1938, Marshall & Bruce suffered a setback almost as devastating as the 1895 fire. But the company survived the depression, loss of the Baptist contract, and World War II. In 1952, P.M. French and Associates, owners of Washington Industries, bought the company. Some years later, the company moved to its current location at 689 Davidson Street. Bob Smith, current owner of Marshall & Bruce, acquired the company from P.M. French and Associates in 1983. According to Bob, “I had worked for them since 1971. I knew the company had been in business since the Civil War, and had a great name and good people. I felt like Nashville was on the move, so I bought the company.” Learn more about the Smith family business philosophy here.
A lot has changed in the industry since we first opened our doors in Nashville, and we have led the way by continually reinvesting in the latest technology. Marshall & Bruce now offers a wide range of capabilities to serve customers across the country. Today, we’re an agile, responsive, 24/7 operation, with over 100,000 square feet of manufacturing, printing, and warehousing facilities. Take a virtual tour and see for yourself!.
Company is opened by Andrew Marshall and J.H. Bruce on Rue Deadrick as Marshall & Bruce’s Book Bindery on October 25.
Purchased building at 212 Union Street.
Organized as a stock company under the style of Marshall & Bruce Company.
Company burns to the ground on Sunday, February 25 and rebuilds within seven months.
Secured printing contract for the Southern Baptist Convention.
Andrew Marshall dies. (Bruce Shepard, nephew of J.H. Bruce becomes president in 1914.)
J.H. Bruce dies. (Marshall Hotchkiss, nephew of Andrew Marshall, becomes secretary-treasurer.)
Southern Baptist Convention terminates contract. Some months later, the company leased property at 12th and Pine for a printing plant.
Marshal Hotchkiss dies.
Bruce Shephard retires. Ernest M. Allen elected president in May.
Marshall & Bruce purchases Barnhill Stationery company.
Ernest M. Allen dies and G. Allen Rather is elected president.
M&B constructs a new warehouse.
P.M. French and Associates purchases Marshall & Bruce.
Bob Smith purchases M&B.
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