History

Celebrating More Than 100 Years of Excellence

Founded in 1901, Betts is a family-owned company with a rich tradition of innovation, quality, and community spirit. Here’s how we’ve grown over the years…

The American Dream Begins

Charles Dennis Betts arrived in Warren, Pennsylvania in 1878. Originally immigrating from Canada as a young boy, he first settled in Watertown, New York, and then lived with his wife, Catherine, and their young family in Petroleum Center, Pennsylvania. The Betts headed to Warren in search of fresh opportunities, away from the corruption of oil.

In this new, prosperous community, Charles—and soon after his son, Louis—worked as machinists for Struthers Wells Company, the largest iron foundry and machine company in the area. There, Louis met fellow machinist Charles Fairchild, who would become instrumental in the foundation of Betts’ legacy.

In 1901, Louis Betts caught the spirit of opportunity. He and Charles Fairchild purchased the former Warren Foundry and Machine Shop adjacent to the Struthers Wells complex, and started “Fairchild and Betts: Founders and Machinists.”

Growth and Transformation

In the first part of the 20th century, Louis and Charles—with the help of Louis’ brothers, George Betts and Charles Edmond Betts—ran a very successful foundry and machine shop. Struthers Wells, their former employer, became one of the new company’s best customers as Fairchild and Betts produced iron sled and pipe boat shoes, oil well pumping rigs, and gas engines for the oil fields.

Charles Fairchild retired in 1921 after two decades as senior partner, and in 1922 the company appeared in the city directory for the first time as Betts Foundry and Machine Company. Growth and success continued for the company until The Crash of 1929, which signaled the end of the traditional machinist era. Betts had to evolve, or fail.

The Second Generation

Cliff Betts was the third child of Louis Betts. By the beginning of WWI, Cliff was married with a young son of his own—and though he was interested in the family business, he at first sought independence. He traveled through Pennsylvania and New York with his family, working various trades and excelling at sales.

After Louis Betts passed away in 1934, the family business passed to Cliff’s two brothers. Unfortunately, neither had management or sales skills, so Louis’ widow, Ida, asked her third son to return and take the helm of Betts, to save the company from bankruptcy.

Cliff moved back to Warren and successfully negotiated with the bank to hold off foreclosure. He then secured new customers, and the future of the business looked brighter.

Visionary Innovation

Cliff Betts steered the company into new directions, employing a cadre of loyal machinists who were willing to take jobs no other company would touch. He was also responsible for initiating a profit-sharing program that proved highly motivational for employees. A brilliant salesman, Cliff convinced a customer who had developed a new manifold valve design to allow Betts to manufacture and build the entire valve rather than just a few of the manifold component parts. It was this patented design that became the company’s first of many proprietary products.

This new valve also delivered a competitive advantage for Betts—it was lighter, faster, and more adaptable than other products on the market. The design proved so popular that it’s still in use today.

Continual Evolution

Over the decades, Betts has been an early adapter of the latest technologies, including electronics and computer equipment. The company, which is still owned and operated by the Betts family, has shown continual growth and profits since its inception.

Today, Betts Industries proudly serves more than 2,000 industrial customers throughout the United States and in 35 foreign countries.