We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last ninety years. Find out more about where we came from and where we’re headed.
Back in 1927, George Bullard had a dream that he could make a better abrasive product than what was being offered. So he left his job as chief engineer of a leading abrasives manufacturer and went to work in his garage in Westborough, Massachusetts to start engineering and producing his own grinding wheels. Growth was rapid and expansion soon took the company from Bullard’s garage to a former meat packing plant where the company would operate for over fifty years.
Designs such as the squared-nutted hub for grinding wheels, introduced the revolutionary concept of attaching a dedicated mounting device to the grinding wheel. That invention is known today as the mounted hub or “hubbed” wheel. He created the industry’s first system of color coding wheel labels based on their application, making product selection incredibly easier for the consumer. He invented the Type 29 shaped Blend-N-Flexible wheel that increased the contact area of the grinding surface on the work piece, and the incredible Sand-Away product that cuts, grinds and sands almost any material and can be used on several different tool types.
The late eighties saw the reins of ownership pass to Gifford Foley – a Vietnam veteran, decorated Green Beret, entrepreneur, and generally a James Bond sort of character. Foley served as the vice-president of marketing for Gibson guitars before joining the grinding wheel industry. We certainly enjoyed the Gibson connection as several of Bullard’s current management members are avid guitarists in addition to their passion for our products. There’s actually a beautiful parallel to be drawn between the sweet sound of a Gibson guitar and the “heavy metal” roar of a grinding wheel. In July of 1989, Foley met his untimely passing while performing a challenging acrobatic maneuver in his biplane over the Niagara Falls gorge. Heroes have a certain and indistinguishable swagger – that was Gifford Foley.
In December 1990 Richard Whyte, the CEO during Foley’s ownership, acquired Bullard Abrasives and under his stewardship began the process of building a state-of-the-art manufacturing business. Manufacturing and service to our country is deeply rooted in Whyte’s military background and executive positions with major manufacturing companies across the globe. Whyte believed that only first class quality would win the commitment of customers and that there would be no celebration or sustainability for second place.
In 2001, after enjoying a decade of growth, Bullard’s future was entrusted to Richard’s son Rick and close friend and industry veteran Craig Pickell. The key management team of Rick, Craig, and vice president Hector Rodriguez provides the leadership that drives the company today. Aware of the company’s heritage and deeply committed to the founding philosophy of George Bullard, the management team carries forward the commitment to innovation, quality, and product and service excellence so firmly established over eighty years ago.
In 2006 the company moved to its present Rhode Island location. With 2012 came the addition of a 24,000 square foot distribution facility and the acquisition of Marvel Abrasive Products of Chicago, a leading manufacturer of resin fiber discs and surface conditioning products. As for Mr. Whyte, he’s enjoying his retirement racing a seven liter hydroplane in the vintage race boat series.