Our Story

Royal Brass and Hose: 75 Years of Connections You Can Depend On

By Royal Brass and Hose Marketing February 07, 2024

Royal Brass and Hose has been an essential contributor in the industry since its inception, providing dependable service and quality products. What started from humble beginnings, selling parts out of a trunk of a car in Knoxville, Tennessee, to growing into a national brand, Royal Brass and Hose has been on an incredible journey. 

1949: The Foundation

Royal Brass and Hose wagon jobber.

Founder, John MacDonald, initiated the legacy of Royal Brass and Hose by storing fittings at the old 5th Avenue Hotel in Knoxville and operating as a "Wagon Jobber", distributing the fittings in cars, and later, in company trucks. This marked the beginning of a business that would grow to be a significant player in its field.

1962: Getting Physical

A black and white photo of a two-story brick commercial building. The ground level features large glass windows and a central glass door, typical of retail storefronts. Above the entrance, a prominent sign reads "Royal Brass Inc." with the company's offerings listed: "Hydraulic Hose Assemblies, Automotive Hose Assemblies, Industrial Hose." To the left, smaller signs advertise "Weatherhead Fittings, Brass, Steel, Stainless, Hydraulic Tube Fittings, Hose Clamps." The upper story of the building has six symmetrically placed double-hung windows. The architecture suggests a mid-20th-century style, common in small town or urban business districts. There are no visible people, and the street in front is empty, giving the scene a quiet, perhaps early morning or weekend feel.

In 1962, Royal Brass and Hose established a physical presence. The company set up shop on Western Avenue in Knoxville, taking its first step from being a mobile operation to establishing a storefront.

1968: Expanding Partnerships

The company expanded its reach by becoming a distributor of The Gates Rubber Co., a partnership that has not only endured but flourished over the subsequent years, helping both companies to prosper. Royal Brass and Hose is the second largest distributor for The Gates Rubber Company in hydraulic products in North America.

1973: Expanding Footprint

Royal Brass & Hose opened its first branch office in Madisonville, KY to service the coal mining industry in Western Kentucky.

1980: Evolving Logistics

A historical black and white photo capturing a busy urban street scene featuring a Greyhound bus prominently in the foreground with the destination "KNOXVILLE" displayed above the windshield. The bus has a sleek design indicative of mid-20th-century automotive aesthetics, with a Greyhound dog logo and the fleet number M158 visible. The street is bustling with vintage cars parked along the curb, and pedestrians are seen in the background. In the upper left corner, the marquee of the Tennessee Theatre advertises "Show of the South." Architectural details of buildings and industrial structures, including smokestacks, are visible in the distant background, contributing to the mid-century American city atmosphere.

Royal Brass and Hose adapted to changes in logistics by utilizing Trailways and Greyhound Bus lines to ship fittings to their customers in East Tennessee and Kentucky. This continued until President Jimmy Carter signed the Motor Carrier Act, allowing the company to utilize UPS for shipping to customers.

1988: Business Acquisition

Royal Brass and Hose purchased Cornette Fasteners in Maryville, TN. This allowed the company to expand their product offering and remain competitive with a growing product line.

1989: A New Headquarters

The company outgrew its headquarters on Western Avenue and relocated to 1470 Amherst Road, which remains its headquarters today. This move was a significant step in the company's growth and development.

2017: Going Digital

Recognizing the immense potential of online commerce, Royal Brass and Hose embarked on a strategic initiative to develop a full-function, integrated Ecommerce site, meticulously aligned with their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. To lay a robust foundation for their Ecommerce platform, they initiated a comprehensive approach, starting with a customer survey. The company implemented a Product Information Management (PIM) system, establishing a solid infrastructure to manage product data effectively and support the forthcoming Ecommerce platform. Following this, they launched an Ecommerce pilot program. This critical phase was instrumental in testing the waters, allowing them to gather valuable insights and feedback, and ensuring that their platform not only met but exceeded the expectations of their customers.

2018: Employee Ownership

Embracing a progressive business model, Royal Brass and Hose decided to become an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) company. This pivotal decision meant that every employee became an integral stakeholder, further investing in the company's success and ensuring that the entire team was committed to the success of every customer.

2020: Ecommerce Launch

Royal Brass and Hose has 11 warehouses in 10 different states.

Royal Brass and Hose launched a website that not only provided Ecommerce accessibility to customers but also showcased the company's adaptability to modern demands. With 11 warehouses in 10 different states and the capacity for Ecommerce, they could now serve the entire country more efficiently.

2022: Honoring Legacy

While John MacDonald, the original founder, is no longer with us, his legacy continues through his son, Drew MacDonald, who serves as the CEO. Together with the board members, they honor the past while ensuring that Royal Brass and Hose remains ready to meet the future needs of their customers.

As Royal Brass and Hose continues to innovate and adapt, their commitment to quality and customer service remains steadfast. The company's growth and evolution are ongoing, and everyone at Royal Brass and Hose looks forward to what the next chapter will bring.

Read more about our 75 years of innovation and growth.