The Columns

Sleigh Bells Ring…and Hand Bells, Too

— by on December 16th, 2010

It is the perfect seasonal story — a company that makes bells, all sorts of jingling bells, surviving at a time when iPhones and iPads can replicate the sounds electronically. But Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company, of East Hampton, Conn., presses on under the guidance of Matt Bevin, of the Class of 1989, the sixth generation to operate the company.

Earlier this month the saga of Bevin Brothers (and Matt) was chronicled in both a hometown newspaper, The Hartford Courant, and in American Profile, a weekly magazine that is inserted in many newspapers, including Lexington’s News-Gazette.

As the story in the Courant notes, Matt was asked to take over the company “after other family members concluded he was the only member of his generation with both the business know-how and capital to save the firm.” Matt has operated a large asset management firm, Integrity Asset Management, in Louisville, Ky. That firm was sold earlier this month to Munder Capital Management.

Since taking over the bell business that his great-great-great-grandfather started, writes the Courant, Matt has reorganized the shop floor and rebuilt relationships with customers.

The company markets 700,000 sleigh bells every year. Those bells are often attached to straps and then hung on doors, either to symbolize the season or, in the case of one pet product company, to allow dogs to alert their owners that it’s time to go out. But when it comes to the product line, sleigh bells are just the start.

Bevin Brothers’ bells are especially prevalent in this season because the company supplies the bells used by the Salvation Army and Macy’s Santas. The 200 varieties of Bevin Brothers’ bells also include bicycle bells, doorbells, and ice cream bells. And then there are the cowbells that can be customized with school colors and logos to be rung at football games. In fact, when you look at the customization options on the Bevins Brothers’ website, you might just see a familiar-looking bell.