2013 marks a major milestone for a company with humble beginnings as a bicycle repair shop in Ottawa Canada. What started as a small home based business can now boast of being one of the most diverse manufacturing companies in Ontario. Ketchum Manufacturing Inc. turns 100 years old in 2013.
In 100 years the company has only seen two ownership changes, the first when its founder Mr. Zebulon Ketchum passed down the company from father to daughter in 1921 and the last when Mrs. Isabelle Percival sold the company upon her retirement to the company President Claude Lalonde in 1993.
When Mr. Ketchum turned his love of tinkering into a small business even he could not have known what an enduring success his daughter would make of the company. At one point Ketchum was the first company to sell the “horseless carriage” in their nation’s capital. Over the next seventy years Mrs. Percival guided the company through multiple expansions. She took a small business serving a local market to a very diverse company producing products that are now sold worldwide. However it was the metal identification tags that were sold into the livestock market that became the hallmark of the Ketchum name. We believe Mr. Ketchum would be proud to know that this remains a product we manufacture to this day.
During both world wars the business adapted and re-tooled so it could help in the war effort producing bullet casings, gun triggers, and detonator covers for the army. It also produced the army dog tags for soldiers as they headed overseas. A contract we still bid on today.
Although Ketchum Manufacturing has reinvented itself many times over it has never strayed from it Agricultural roots. Many of our tags are now made of plastics but the livestock identification business continues to be our core function.
In 1993 when Mr. Lalonde purchased the company, Ketchum again searched for new markets to take its manufacturing capabilities to new potential buyers. The company noted that research facilities using animals would require the ability to identify each animal. Knowing that the companies permanent tattoo pastes had effectively worked in the livestock industry for years, the company had a micro tattoo system developed so that mice and rats could be tattooed. Ketchum also sells products to identify pigs, cats, dogs, and other laboratory research animals. The company now also produces environment enrichment items such as our Refuge huts and our Cocoon nesting cylinders. The company also supplies custom printed cage cards and cage tags, RFID chips and readers, surgical restraint boards, ear notchers, wing tags, leg bands, and much more. As a manufacturer Ketchum is able to take a customers need and develop solutions to meet it. This continues to be a major reason why the company is so diverse. It has reacted to the needs of its customers.
In 2005 having outgrown their factory the company made the heart wrenching decision to leave its home in Ottawa for a more spacious facility in Brockville Ontario some 80 kilometers south along the St. Lawrence River and the US border. The business started on a rural farm outside of Ottawa and when it moved it found itself in the middle of the city. What started as a niche business serving the local agricultural community spread regionally, than nationally, and now competes in almost every market of the world.
There have been 18 US Presidents, 19 Canadian Prime Ministers, and 4 Monarchs in Great Britain since Ketchum’s reign over the identification industry began. We are immensely proud of what we have accomplished so far and as we prepare to pause and look back on what we have achieved our promise to our customers is that we will always continue to move forward as well.