American Brush Company



About American Power Brush Manufacturing, Inc



American Power Brush Manufacturing, Inc. (APBMI) is a privately held corporation that is affiliated with Power Brushes, Inc. (PBI), an Ohio company founded in 1957. In October of 2014, PBI. entered into a Management Agreement with American Brush Company (ABC). This was the first step in APBMI acquiring the assets of ABC., and in May of 2015 the asset purchase was completed. APBMI now has the synergy of two companies with manufacturing and offices in Portland, OR. along with Toledo, OH. to better serve customer needs with quality products, striving to become a "trusted and dependable" vendor to all. With the roots of APBMI being a company over 100 years old, we would like to share some of the history of what is now APBMI.

American Brush founded in Portland, Oregon sometime in 1910. The only real evidence we have is a catalog, published in 1925, which refers to brushes "of similar quality to those produced 15 years ago".

The company was incorporated in 1916 as American Brush Manufacturing Company at 91-97 SE Union Avenue, Portland, Oregon. William Nelson, a brush maker by trade who came to Oregon from Minnesota, was the founding president. By 1925 more than 150 different trade names were taken to cover a product line that included over 600 different kinds and sizes of brushes. A large portion of the products produced between 1910 and 1930 were high quality paint brushes.

In 1928, the business moved to Northeast 31st and Sandy Blvd. William McBride was then President and Mel O'Shea was the Treasurer. The crash of 1929 forced American Brush Manufacturing into bankruptcy in 1930. The company was quickly reorganized by Mel O'Shea under the name ABC. Paint brushes were dropped from the line, and in 1931 janitorial supplies were added. Brooms and brushes were sold door-to-door during the 1930's and early 1940's.

The first full-line catalog was published in 1935. This catalog introduced our sweeping janitor symbol, which was originally designed by one of the salesmen. The symbol was registered as a trademark in 1947 and had been named Pat McSweep. PAT is an acronym standing for: Professional American Tradition.

In 1945, Mel O'Shea decided to sell to three employees, Gus Nelson (William Nelson's son), Bill Doern (a factory worker since 1927), and Viola Nelson (no relation to Gus) who ran the office. After the purchase was finalized, they moved the business to an old harness shop on NE 21st and Hoyt. A second building was subsequently added at that site.

By the late 1950's, the company purchased 116 N.E. Sixth Ave. which was built in 1909 as a candy factory. Brush machinery was updated from overhead belt drive to direct drive and some automation of the manufacturing process was started with the move. This multi-story served as its home till 2012, then moving to the current one story facility at 3150 N.W. 31St. Ave. The building on N.E. Sixth Ave. has become a Portland landmark with the ABC name and logo still preserved. In June of 1963, Bill and Gladys Doern purchased the company and Gladys became the office manager. By late 1964 their daughter Betty and her husband John Martin joined the business. The Doerns' retired in 1974 and the Martins continued the tradition of American quality and competitive pricing that Bill Doern first learned as a new hire at American in 1927.

In May, 2015 the Martin Family sold the assets of ABC to APBMI and the tradition of serving customers as a quality brush manufacturer continues. After 100+ years of exclusively manufacturing in Oregon, APBMI now has manufacturing and sales offices in both Portland, OR. and Toledo, OH.