Guest Post: Get to Know the Family-Owned W.H. Bagshaw Company, the Oldest Pin Maker in America

Jan 21 2022 |
While W.H. Bagshaw Company got its start making combing pins, the company now manufactures precision Swiss CNC-machined parts for the medical, aerospace, defense, and high tech industries. Photos courtesy W.H. Bagshaw Company

The New Hampshire company has specialized in precision manufacturing in the USA since 1870, attributing its success to the “small but mighty pin.”

Editor’s note: AAM occasionally runs articles written by American manufacturers and workers. The piece below is written by Aaron Bagshaw, the president and co-owner of W.H. Bagshaw Company.

From the age of nine, Walter H. Bagshaw knew pins. Bagshaw was born in 1847 in Derbyshire, England; as a child, he worked in a factory making comb pins until he emigrated to America as a teenager. By the time he was 23, he had established the W.H. Bagshaw Company in Lowell, Massachusetts, manufacturing his own fiber combing pins amidst the booming textile industry in the Merrimack Valley.

Bagshaw soon diversified his company’s product line to include phonograph needles and furniture hinge pins. In 1949, the business moved operations to its current home in Nashua, New Hampshire. But it wasn’t until 2005 that W.H. Bagshaw Company truly became a competitive entity in the global precision machining market.

I’m Walter Bagshaw’s great-great-grandson, and I’m proud to lead the company today. We’re not just making pins anymore; we’ve expanded our product offerings to include precision Swiss CNC-machined parts that serve the medical, aerospace, defense, and high tech industries, to name a few. We serve customers in 11 different countries, and I believe that our enduring success over the centuries can be attributed to a willingness to diversify and embrace change.

Pins are not big items, but they go into multi-million-dollar machines. Today, W.H. Bagshaw products can be found in such consequential applications as dialysis machines, airplanes, ice rescue hooks, and blood-dosing needles. If one of those applications doesn’t have a good pin, it’s not going to work — it’s as simple as that.

Adaptation is the key to surviving another generation (or more). As the oldest pin manufacturer in the U.S., we are still renowned as a supplier of textile pins, pin assemblies, and wire products. But it’s our investment in CNC equipment and ongoing employee training that now enables our team to manufacture products like roller bearings, housings, valve bodies, custom fasteners, Teflon insulators, and more for a range of industries.

W.H. Bagshaw Company employs over 40 CNC machining technicians and other staff with a broad range of experiences and backgrounds. Our impact extends far beyond our 100,000-square-foot shop. According to the Economic Policy Institute, every direct job in durable manufacturing sustains over seven indirect jobs. As a small, family-run business, W.H. Bagshaw is proud to contribute to the American job market in our backyard and beyond. 

Our team’s strength lies in our commitment to quality — of processes, parts, and people. We conduct rigorous audits throughout the entire production process to ensure quality is top-of-mind. Continuous improvement and lean manufacturing are pillars of the culture at W.H. Bagshaw Company, as is a customer-first mindset, and we take pride in our ability to integrate both century-old and current manufacturing processes into our work. Being an American manufacturer with a large domestic and international presence only serves to grow that pride.

“Many [American] purchasing managers prioritize price over quality,” says Vice President Adria Bagshaw. “But there’s a measure of responsiveness, flexibility, delivery and problem solving that comes with having a local or domestic partner.” 

Now in our 152nd year of business — with no signs of slowing down — I’m confident that Walter Bagshaw’s legacy will continue to endure on the back of the small but mighty pin.

Aaron Bagshaw is the president and co-owner of The W.H. Bagshaw Company. The great-great-grandson of Walter Bagshaw, Aaron has spent the last 30 years leading the company to reach new heights as a competitive entity in the global precision machining market.