In the front of a small paperback book titled Origin and Development of Bulman Industries, the first paragraph reads, “Elvah Orville Bulman had an idea for a product. He also had the rented loft of one not very large and not very new barn, $200.00 capital and a great deal of determination in the year 1905.”
His product was the Gem Take-up Twine Holder, a dispenser that held a cone or ball of twine.
In the years that followed, Bulman’s company grew rapidly, and his product line expanded to include roll paper holders, cutters, and store fixtures. After retirement, his son, Orville Elvah Bulman, carried on until 1970 when he sold the company to Rospatch Corporation.
General Manager of Bulman Products, Jack Kirkwood, purchased Bulman from Rospatch in 1982, keeping the well known name of Bulman Products in tact. Jack continued to focus on their niche market of rolled paper dispensers while maintaining the company’s long standing history of quality workmanship, creativity and service.
Jack’s son, Jim Kirkwood, was planning to take over the business when he suddenly and tragically passed away in December 2008. Jim’s widow, Ann, joined the Bulman team in February 2009 and completed her purchase of the business in December 2012.
As you can see, ownership has changed over the years, but many things have remained the same in this small family owned business. Bulman cutters continue to be made from the same durable materials used by E.O. Bulman over 100 years ago. Another lasting tradition is the organizations’ belief and commitment of giving back to the community. For nearly 20 years Bulman has utilized the Grand Rapids non-profit organization “Hope Network” to employ 8-10 special needs adults who have experienced brain and spinal cord injuries, mental illness or developmental disabilities.
Our commitment to quality, excellent employee relations, and community service will continue on through the next generation of ownership.