A little more than a year ago we blogged about Washington and Lee alumnus Matt Bevin, of the Class of 1989,and his family business — Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company, maker of 200 varieties of bells. We noted then that bells were especially relevant given the time of year. National Public Radio apparently agrees.
Located in East Hampton, Conn., known as "Belltown" because it was once the heart of U.S. bell-making with 30 bell factories there at one time. Only Bevin Brothers survives. It was started in 1832 by Matt's great-great-great-grandfather and manufactured the first bicycle bells and first automobile foot bells (a pre-horn care safety device). Today Bevin Brothers is the only company in North America than specializes in making bells. The company has produced 750 million bells.
Matt established a highly successful investment company, Integrity Asset Management, in Louisville where he was CEO and principal from 2003 to this past November. When his uncle was consider closing down the bell company in 2008, Matt agreed to step up and keep it going even though, even he admits, that there are plenty of easier ways to make bell sounds nowadays.
So why try to save the company? Here's what he told New England Public Radio: "The ability to literally walk across the same floorboards as my ancestors, for six generations, these same worn, weathered boards. This factory was built in the 19th century and we're still making bells in the same spot in the same building as we have been for decade after decade, after generation after generation."
So when you hear sleigh bells in the coming days or when you watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and hear the bells that give an angel its wings or when you see a Salvation Army bell ringer or when you see some football fans ringing cowbells in the stands during a bowl game, think of Matt Bevin. His company made those bells.
Click this link to download the audio from New England Public Radio's show or use the player below to hear the story:
Click this link to download the audio from Morning Edition or use the player below to hear the story: