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Nashua pin maker, oldest in the nation, doubled workforce over past decade

Union Leader Correspondent

April 22. 2018 7:14PM

Adria and Aaron Bagshaw of the W.H. Bagshaw Company in Nashua show visitors how phonograph needles are replaced during a tour of the facility last week. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

NASHUA — As the oldest pin maker in the nation, the W.H. Bagshaw Co. continues to perfect the manufacturing of various pins through five generations of family management.

“There are probably only three pin manufacturers left in the world that do this the way we do it,” said Aaron Bagshaw, who started working in the family business in the late 1990s.

The company was founded by Walter H. Bagshaw in 1870 as a pin comb manufacturer in Lowell, Mass., but moved to Nashua in 1949. Its factory operates at 1 Pine St.

W.H. Bagshaw Co. is well known for selling phonograph needles for record players, and in the 1920s it sold the largest order of 1.75 billion phonograph needles.

“We do still make these (phonograph) pins and sell them, although not at the same volume,” said Adria Bagshaw, Aaron’s wife and business partner.

Now the pins manufactured in Nashua have a variety of uses, including ammunition boxes, tractor-trailer wheels, tacks, darts, medical equipment and more. It also exports a large quantity of ice picks to Mexico. 

At right, Ed Migneault works on a grinding machine last week at the W.H. Bagshaw Company at 1 Pine St. in Nashua. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

“We were at a crossroads 15 years ago,” said Adria Bagshaw, explaining that phonograph needles were no longer necessary and the company decided to invest in new machinery for new ventures. 

Because of their entrepreneurial spirit and their ever-evolving processes, the W.H. Bagshaw Co. has been selected as New Hampshire’s winner of the 2018 Jeffrey Butland Family Owned Small Business of the Year Award.

“This is a family-owned business that has successfully transferred to a fifth-generation of Bagshaws,” Hollis McGuire, Nashua regional director of the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, said in a statement. “Although manufacturers have closed in high numbers in New England over the past decade, W.H. Bagshaw has continued to adapt to change, using state of the art machinery and processes to remain competitive and open the door to new products and markets.” 

The company purchased its first CNC machine for about $250,000, and now has 30 machines throughout its 100,000-square-foot plant. 

The Bagshaws said their workforce has doubled in the past decade to 41 workers, and the company makes products for thousands of clients. One of its largest customers in the area is New Hampshire Ball Bearings, Inc. in Peterborough.

Sobeyda Santos works on the factory floor in the knurling department at the W.H. Bagshaw Company in Nashua. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

Some of the pins are simple, while others are complex, said Adria Bagshaw, adding they are used not only in the medical field, but in the aerospace and defense fields as well, and are manufactured with both century-old and modern manufacturing processes.

“The pins are all very different, and they are made for a great variety of industries,” said Aaron Bagshaw. “We do a lot of work with textile companies.” 

Greta Johansson, district director for the New Hampshire Small Business Administration, said the Bagshaw family has a rich history and commitment to manufacturing. 

“They also have a 148-year story of commitment to making quality products that merit their name. Their adaptation to change was not without risk and sacrifice, but today they are poised to look further into the future than Walter could ever have dreamed in 1870,” Johansson said in a release. 

The Bagshaws will be honored at the annual Small Business Awards event on May 2 at the Manchester Country Club in Bedford. 

Other award winners include: 

• Mark Wentworth of Green View Technologies as the New Hampshire Small Business Person of the Year.

• Jameson French of Northland Forest Products as New Hampshire and New England Small Business Exporter of the Year.

• Eric Spofford of Granite Recovery Centers as New Hampshire and New England Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

• Elizabeth Bendel as New Hampshire Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year.

• Brenda Cloutier of Beyond Mission Capable Solutions as New Hampshire Woman Owned Small Business of the Year.

• Mary Ann Kristiansen of the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship as New Hampshire Small Business Champion.

• Jennifer Boulanger of the Capital Regional Development Council as New Hampshire Small Business Financial Services Champion.


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