Gardner Spring, Inc., a Tulsa-based spring manufacturer supplying the OEM, industrial supply, and hardware industries, is celebrating its 100th anniversary with the construction of a new building adjacent to its main offices on North Utica Avenue.
“It is truly an honor to be sharing our 100th year in business with the Centennial of the Great State of Oklahoma,” said Gardner’s owner and President, Katherine I. Magrini, a Tulsa native.
Gardner Spring was founded in Chicago in 1907, quickly making its mark as one of the country’s leading manufacturers of stock and specialty springs. Magrini’s brother bought the stock spring division when Gardner was sold in the mid 1960s, moving the company – along with its healthy nationwide customer base – to Oklahoma.
Within a few months, the company was sold to Associated Spring, who hired Magrini to run the company for the next ten years. In 1978 Magrini purchased Gardner back from Associated.
Magrini has been Gardner’s sole owner for nearly 30 years. She was the first, and, for many years, the only woman member of the American Hardware Manufacturers Association.
“I still remember how well I was treated back then,” Magrini recalled. “As the only woman in a male dominated industry, you’d think I would have had difficulties, but, honestly, I never did.”
“I think the reason that I never had to cope with the discrimination encountered by so many other women trying to make it the business world at that time was because I entered the arena as a business owner – a peer – rather than having to work my way up through the ranks of a large company,” Magrini speculated.
Magrini was also the first woman to join the Tulsa Area Manufacturers Association. “When I first joined TAMA, all of the men who had been around for a long time treated me – as well as those women who came later – very professionally and respectfully,” Magrini said.
Gardner makes and stocks thousands of sizes of a wide variety of springs, and continues to be a stable employer in Tulsa, something Magrini attributes to being part of a “recession-proof” industry.
Among Gardner Spring’s many customers over the years are such household names as retailers Ace Hardware, Wal-Mart, True-Value and Servistar, as well as national and global industrial catalog giants and the OEM industry.
Gardner parts have found their way into everything from kitchen appliances to aerospace components, and business is booming. To accommodate this growth, the company is about to move into its fourth building, located at Latimer and N. Utica just across the street from the office that has been Gardner’s home for 40 years.
“We’re not moving out of the original offices, we just need more room to grow,” Magrini said. Over the years Magrini has turned down several offers to buy the company, and has no plans either to sell or to move.
“Tulsa is our home,” Magrini said, “and I’d like to think that Gardner will still be right here in another hundred years.”