Fairbanks Scales

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Two brothers, Thaddeus and Erastus Fairbanks founded the Fairbanks Scales manufacturing company in 1830 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Fairbanks employs over 500 employees nationwide. It maintains service centers, distributors and sales offices in 49 states and in over 25 countries. It sells precision and bench scales, heavy capacity truck scales, and railroad track scales.


Thaddeus was a wagon maker by trade. He built a foundry in 1823 to manufacture two of his inventions - the cast iron plow and a stove. In 1824, Erastus joined Thaddeus to form the E & T Fairbanks Company in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The brothers believed that the weighing systems of the time yielded inaccurate results. Thaddeus attempted to produce a competitive device.

Through an arrangement of levers, Thaddeus Fairbanks was able to tremendously reduce the amount of weight needed to counterbalance a load. He then dug a pit for his lever design, placing the platform level with the ground. This modification ended the task of having to hoist the entire load.

In his first design, Thaddeus rested a platform on two long levers which were connected to a steelyard, upon which the counterbalance was placed. Although achieving accurate weighing results, instability of the design was troubling. By adding two short levers to his long ones, he established support points at all four corners of the platform. Now his scale was not only accurate, but very stable. In 1830, Thaddeus built his first real scale and applied for a patent.

By the time of the Civil War, Fairbanks' scales were the best known American product in the world. Erastus and Thaddeus were now joined by their younger brother, Joseph. The modest one-building operation expanded to 40 buildings with more than 20 acres (81,000 m2) of floor space by 1910.

E & T Fairbanks & Company offices opened in the cities of Boston and New York in the 1870s. Fairbanks’ scales were sold in Europe. Thaddeus sold the manufacturing rights to H. Poole and Sons in England in the 1830s, thus creating an international marketing niche.

In 1846, trade began in China. Two years later, Joseph Fairbanks began selling scales to Cuba. In 1860, the Vermont-based company sold scales throughout the Caribbean, South America, India and Russia. In fact, European sales grew to such an extent that Fairbanks established a facility in Budapest to assemble scales.

In 1867, Fairbanks produced 4,000 scales a month. The U.S. Post Office ordered 3,000 postal scales in various capacities; E & T Fairbanks & Company filled the order in just eight days.

By 1882, more than 80,000 Fairbanks scales were produced annually. By 1897, the company held 113 patents for improvements and inventions in weighing. Fairbanks offered its customers 2,000 standard model scales, yet made as many as 10,000 different models and custom systems.


In 1916, Charles Hosmer Morse, a Fairbanks employee, acquired control of the company. Then in 1927, the Fairbanks office in New York became part of the Fairbanks-Morse company, giving Fairbanks-Morse complete control over the manufacturing and distribution of Fairbanks Scales. During this time the Fairbanks-Morse company produced scales, locomotives, diesel engines, electric engines and pumps for industrial use.

Fairbanks-Whitney and Colt Industries[edit]

In 1958, Fairbanks-Morse merged with Penn-Texas and was renamed Fairbanks-Whitney.[citation needed]

Following the merger, the company stagnated. In 1962 George Strichman was appointed president. Renamed Fairbanks Weighing Division of Colt Industries.[clarification needed]

A modern manufacturing plant replaced the deteriorating facilities in St. Johnsbury, Vermont in 1966. Kenneth F. Hammer served as company president from 1968–1985. It became one of the top scale manufacturers, with almost fourteen hundred employees in its St. Johnsbury, VT, Meridian, MS, and Holmdale, CA[clarification needed] plants and 60 sales and service locations across the US.[citation needed]

In 1975, a new factory was built in Meridian, Mississippi, producing a variety of products designed for heavy capacity weighing. In 1988 Fairbanks came under the current management of F.A. "Bill" Norden, president and major stockholder of Fairbanks Scales. He headed a group which acquired the company from Colt Industries. Finance, marketing and executive offices were moved from St. Johnsbury to Kansas City, Missouri.[citation needed]

In 1999, F.A. Norden was named Chairman of the Board and his son, Richard Norden, became Fairbanks' President and COO.[citation needed]


  • Fairbanks Scales
  • Lewis, Edward A. (1974). Vermont's Covered Bridge Road. The Baggage Car.