Charles Hager left Germany in 1848 and made his way to New Orleans by
sailing vessel. He then traveled to St. Louis by wagon and quickly began
work for a blacksmith. Only a year later, the blacksmith headed west
for the gold rush and Charles bought the shop. He realized that his
training as a blacksmith and wheelwright would put him in good stead as
the flood of Easterners poured through St. Louis, headed west. And he
was right. The onslaught of gold seekers and settlers came and Charles
Hager forged wheel rims and hardware for their Conestoga wagons. He
hammered out his old worn out files into knives that were used by fur
traders and mountain men. His business grew and the skill and quality he
built into his hardware also built his reputation. As St. Louis grew,
so did the company that bore his name: C. Hager.
By 1878, the blacksmith shop had taken on a new look and a new name: C. Hager and Sons Hinge Company. It was a family business now, a growing enterprise that was specializing in the manufacture of quality hardware. In 1894, Hager began producing hinges for wooden beer cases for a brand new St. Louis beer: Budweiser. The Anheuser Busch brewery is a neighbor of Hager still to this day.
Charles Hager’s focus on quality products and unmatched customer service, coupled with a lot of hard work, gave his company a foot up on the rung of success from the very beginning. But as the 1800s drew to a close, he began to pine for more. He dreamt of an expanded product line and of machinery that would make for a more efficient process. The idea of product development was forming.
In the early 1900s, Charles Hager stepped down from presidency and his son, August W. Hager, became the company’s 2nd president. It was during this time that the country saw rapid growth of both farm and residential construction. When August W. Hager stepped into leadership, most hinges were produced by hand forging and other manual procedures. August wanted faster methods of manufacturing and, as a leader in the new industrial revolution, designed and built new machinery for the plants to meet the demands of the new century. These new techniques enabled C. Hager and Sons Hinge Company to increase the diversity of its products for both rural and city dwellings.
The initiation of the Panama Canal Project by President Teddy Roosevelt further enhanced business as Hager was contracted to produce massive quantities of custom hinges for locks on the canal. Then, from 1914 to 1918, during WWI, government orders for hinges continued to flourish and keep the Hager factory producing at maximum capacity.
In 1929, August W. Hager passed away and Charles A. Hager (another son of Charles Hager) became the company’s 3rd president.
During the 1930s, the world experienced the Great Depression. As quoted from family archives by Jay Withnell Hager, “We kept our organization together. We never closed down. We worked five half days instead of five full days in order to give our employees some work. We kept going in spite of the fact that we were losing money. We stocked our inventories and kept our complete workforce in tact. Hager employees have always been part of the family.”
During Charles A. Hager’s presidency, C. Hager and Sons Hinge Company’s sales tripled and the company’s market share was significantly increased by the decision to sell through distributors.
In 1943, Charles A. Hager passed away and Richard G. Hager (another son of Charles Hager) became the company’s 4th president, which unfortunately only lasted two years.
In 1945, after Richard G. Hager’s death, Archer L. Hager (Charles A. Hager's son) became the company’s 5th president. Archer had started with Hager as a shipping clerk in 1912 when he was 18 years old. While working his way to presidency, Archer operated every piece of machinery in every department of the company.
It appeared as though nothing could keep the Hager men from the company business. But, at the start of WWII, Uncle Sam called them away. C. Hager and Sons Hinge Company remained in business, producing hinges for the military and being run by the Hager women.
Post-WWII, under Archer’s continued leadership, Hager took the next step and moved into manufacturing and production of commercial hinges. A new catalog was produced to feature the new Architectural Hinges product line. The company also modernized its factories.
In 1970, Archer L. Hager passed away and his son, August W. “Bill” Hager II, became the company’s 6th president. It was under Bill’s leadership that Hager relocated its manufacturing from St. Louis to new, modern facilities in Greenville, Mississippi, and Montgomery and Oxford, Alabama. This strategic move allowed Hager to streamline production with increased capacity and state-of-the-art machinery and processes. This positioned Hager well for the company’s growth in the mid- to late 1980s.
In 1985, Bill became Chairman of the Board and his eldest son, August W. “Rusty” Hager III, became the company’s 7th president. Bill later retired in 1988 as Chairman of the Board, and passed in 2011.
Rusty’s leadership for the remainder of the 1980s led the company to experience rapid growth. In the late 1980s, Hager expanded its product line to include Roton continuous geared hinges, trim & auxiliary, and thresholds & weatherstripping products. In the 1990s, Hager added sliding door hardware to its product range. Rusty effectively prepared the company for the coming new millennium.
The new millennium began with the introduction of Hager’s stainless steel continuous hinges and the welcoming of the first 6th generation Hager, Josh Hager (Arch Hager’s son), to its team. Josh began his career at Hager Companies by moving to Hong Kong, China, and managing Hager’s residential hinge joint venture, handling sourcing of products, and working with international sales and marketing. In 2003, Hager Companies transitioned presidency from Rusty Hager to Charlie Hager (Rusty’s cousin), making Charlie the company’s 8th president.
In 2004, Josh Hager returned to the States and quickly settled in at our corporate office, taking leadership of our sourcing group and later adding purchasing and both international and domestic sales and marketing to his list of responsibilities. That same year, Hager launched locks, door controls, and exit devices. The addition of these product categories significantly broadened our product offering and enabled Hager Companies to better compete within the specification market.
In 2006, Hager transitioned presidency from Charlie Hager to Ralph Hager (Rusty’s brother), who had previously been serving as Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President. Ralph became the company’s 9th president and his transition was seamless as he continued to be an integral part of Hager’s success.
Under Ralph’s leadership, Hager has greatly expanded the security products offering. 2008 saw the addition of electric locks and exit devices. These products provide additional security and ease of use for our customers and have enabled Hager to offer an even broader range of door hardware. The company also launched its Euroline—a product line focused on meeting the needs of our international customers. This expansion of product lines has positioned Hager Companies as a global leader. Our products can be found in buildings throughout the Middle East (including the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab in Dubai) as well as Central and South America, Asia, and North America.
In 2009, Hager consolidated its Oxford and Montgomery, Alabama, manufacturing plants and opened a brand new distribution center in Phoenix, Arizona—both in an effort to manufacture and distribute products more efficiently and to better serve our customers.
In 2010, Hager welcomed its second 6th generation Hager, Johnston Hager (Ralph Hager’s son) to our team. Johnston started out as Product Manager for Architectural Hinges and Thresholds and Weatherstripping. After a couple of years he added Euroline and Residential Hardware to his responsibilities. In 2015, Johnston was promoted to Director of Residential Sales and Marketing.
In 2012, Hager welcomed its third 6th generation Hager, August Hager (Rusty’s son) to our team. Also in 2012, Hager launched a line of electrified products, including electric strikes, keypads, and magnetic locks. Hager continues to expand our line of locks, door controls, and exit devices – all backed by a 167-year legacy of quality, reputation, and excellence.