Jos. T. Fewkes & Co. was founded in 1903 by Mr. Joseph Thomas Fewkes as an electric motor repair shop.
Our original address was 124 North 12th Street in Philadelphia. This structure is believed to be the birthplace of John Barrymore, the famous Shakespearean actor.
Soon after its founding, Jos. T. Fewkes & Co. became an authorized distributor for General Electric motors, controls and repair parts. A General Electric motor, control and parts handbook, dating back to 1906, bears evidence to this fact. The handbook was issued by the Sprague Electric Works of the General Electric Co.
It is interesting to note that in this handbook, a “Large User” is described as: a purchaser who has, or will have with the motors being purchased, 200 HP in motors.
It is not known exactly when, but sometime after the original agreement date of incorporation, the business was moved directly across 12th Street into the Young Building.
While at this location, the company, in addition to repairing and selling motors, evolved into the electrical contracting business and a small appliance repair shop.
Mr. Fewkes was approached by the General Electric Co. to become, what is believed to be, the first authorized GE Industrial Motor & Control renewal parts stocking distributor. This agreement was signed on November 15, 1937.
Some of the interesting things to note on the paperwork describing this agreement was a General Electric Co. minimum billing charge of $1.00 (one dollar). Also, the following statement can be found:
“We agree to purchase and maintain a stock of industrial renewal parts having an average net value of either One Hundred Dollars ($100) or ten percent of our total purchases of these parts for the preceding calendar year, whichever is greater.”
Joseph T. Fewkes died on September 13, 1953. After his death, the Company eventually withdrew from its contracting and repair operations and concentrated on the electrical apparatus and renewal parts business.
The Company grew to be the largest independent, single-house General Electric Co. apparatus and renewal parts distributor in the country. Over 98% of its sales during this period were directly to industrial users.
In February 1958, Jos. T. Fewkes & Co. signed an agreement with Bodine Electric Co. as an authorized Motor and Control Distributor; a role in which it continues to serve.
Many of the industrial customers the company once served in the Philadelphia and surrounding areas have either moved or are no longer in business.
The Philadelphia/Camden area, once known as the “Workshop of the World”, hosted such industrial giants as Baldwin Locomotive, the world’s largest manufacturing company, Disston & Son, the world’s largest saw works, Pennsylvania Railroad, the nation’s largest single employer and Victor Talking Machine (RCA) the world’s largest producer of recorded music.
At one time, Philadelphia played host to 700 textile mills that employed 90,000 people, many of whom were Jos. T. Fewkes & Co. customers.
The Delaware River waterfront hosted shipbuilding giants like the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Sun Shipbuilding, Cramps Shipyard, and New York Ship. They and nearly all the steel companies that once operated in and around the city were either shut down or sold.
Today, we’re located in an Industrial Park in Marlton, NJ about 13 miles east of the Philadelphia location where we started over 100 years ago. We continue to serve a base of over 2,000 customers with a full line of General Electric and Bodine motors, controls and renewal parts.