In 1959, three years after immigrating to the United States, Gerhard Landgraf and his son Peter decided to start their own business.
The Gerhard’s had spent their first three years in the U.S. maintaining and repairing cars for other people. During this time they both had been working for Volkswagen agencies and saw first hand the types of products Volkswagen was purchasing from domestic manufacturers.
Recognizing an opportunity they started to produce simple bumper reinforcements and luggage racks for the Beetle in their garage in Walnut Creek, California. Soon after that Volkswagen of America became their first customer.Bay Standard Products Manufacturing Company was born.
In 1960 with their sights set on establishing their own production facility, Gerhard and Peter purchased an acre of land in Concord, California. The following year the two entrepreneurs purchased the army barracks from WWII camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California. Now with land and materials the two continued to work toward establishing their vision.
Peter worked by day for his employer while continuing to build luggage racks by night at home in his garage. Gerhard on the other hand worked the nightshift and by day proceeded to tear down the buildings at Camp Stoneman in order to re-use the materials to construct a building on their new property in Concord.This working relationship continued on as orders increased from Volkswagen. With steadfast determination the building in Concord was completed and in 1962 the company started producing from their new facility on Bates Avenue in Concord.
During the sixties Volkswagen had a very strong position in the United States. Now with a contract to supply all the luggage carriers for the entire Volkswagen line; the new company experienced rapid growth as Volkswagen became more popular in the market.
In 1964, Bay Standard started to produce car top carriers for surf boards and within two years became the largest manufacturer of this product line in the United States. As surfing became popular around the world in the 1960’s; Bay Standard found itself exporting this product line to Japan and other foreign markets.
In 1967 the company changed the status and name of the firm. Bay Standard Products Manufacturing Company, a partnership; became Bay Standard Inc., a corporation. This same year the company outgrew its Bates Avenue location and purchased thirteen acres on Marsh Creek Road in Brentwood, California. In the spring of 1968 the first building in Brentwood was completed and the new corporation was producing from two locations. Also in 1968, the company built a plating facility at its Brentwood location to zinc plate in house the products the company was producing.
Hard times fell on the company in 1972 when two of the four buildings on the Bates Avenue location burned down. The loss was great but the determined Landgraf’s went about re-building the equipment destroyed. The crisis forced the speedy move to Brentwood which was still under construction. Soon the company was back to full operation, now all at one location in Brentwood; the same location the company operates from today.
Hard times fell on the company again in 1974 when there was a worldwide shortage of fasteners. Prices skyrocketed, supply disappeared; even willing to pay any price to keep fasteners in supply to assemble product, none were available. Faced with a demand of more than a million screws a year needed for production; Bay Standard had no alternative but to produce its own. After many months of gearing up to produce fasteners, the company finally went into production of screws to use in the assembly of their product. Production was back on track, sales were growing; all was good.
Then another crisis hit Bay Standard. Shortly after going into production of screws the shortage was gone, prices fell and fasteners needed for production could be purchased significantly cheaper than they could be produced. To stay competitive Bay Standard had to purchase fasteners for the production of finished product. This left the company with more than 150 Tons of steel wire that needed to be paid for with no product to produce. The Landgraf’s had to make a decision and choose a direction where they could turn their steel wire inventory into a saleable product. When threaded rod was chosen as the future product of choice; the Landgraf’s applied their ingenuity and talent to transform Bay Standard’s operation into a high volume all thread rod plant. Today Bay Standard has grown to be the largest manufacturer of threaded rod in the Western United States producing more than 1.5 million pounds of finished product a month. Once again, the Landgraf’s chose well.
Soon after producing all thread rod, the company decided to import related fastener products to compliment the all thread rod being produced. In 1978 the company built a fastener warehouse on its property in Brentwood to house imported bolts, nuts, washers and screws. By 1980, fastener sales through wholesale distributors became the dominant part of the company’s operation.As growth continued a second fastener warehouse was added in 1983 and in 1984 Bay Standard celebrated 25 years of continuous growth.
Seeking to expand its distribution, Bay Standard decided to open branches to better serve its customers in the Western United States:
1987: Opened Hawaii Branch
1988: Opened Phoenix Branch
1992: Opened Fontana Branch
1999: Opened Tigard, OR Branch
2002: Manufacturers Warehouse – Salt Lake City – Stocking Rep
2004: Opened Las Vegas Branch
Today, Bay Standard has weathered many storms, including the economic downturn of 2008. The Landgraf family is still involved in the daily operations and the company maintains steady growth.
Moving forward the future is bright for Bay Standard. The same flexibility to react to ever changing markets is still in place today. The company prides itself in never overlooking an opportunity to meet a new demand. This spirit is driven by the entrepreneurial vision of Gary Landgraf and the mechanical ingenuity of his brother Tom.