1926 - 1941
Western Electric's $9 Million Baby
In November 1925 Western Electric began reorganizing the supply department into a separate corporation so it could be sold. Western gave the department’s senior executives one week to name the new company.
More than 50 names were considered and rejected, including Faraday Company and Voltant Company, before National Supply Company was chosen. However, a National Supply Company already existed, and its owner would not sell the name. Resuming their deliberations, the executives chose Gray & Barton Electric Company. But Western Electric turned down the choice, wanting to reserve the Gray & Barton name for its own use. The executives then combined the names Gray and Barton to come up with Graybar, which Western accepted. “It’s some job to get a new name for a 60-year old baby in six or seven days,” one supply department executive sighed.
Graybar Electric Company began operations on December 11, 1925, as a wholly owned Western Electric subsidiary with 2,110 employees, 55 offices and a capitalization of $15 million. But as much as Western wanted to sell the company, it would take three years to find the right buyer—Graybar’s employees.