In 1913, Lloyd G. Balfour, a Sigma Chi Fraternity man, formed the L. G. Balfour Company in Attleboro, Mass. Bally, as he was called, had sold fraternity jewelry. He found that merchandise quality and overall process of these transactions were woeful indeed. Balfour set out to create a company that would do a much better job. He determined to market a more standardized product with better materials.
Conditions Aiding Expansion
During World War I, Balfour was hired to create military decorations and medals. In the 1920s, Balfour began to expand its operations outside of Massachusetts. He opened new facilities in several other states, including Texas. The company established its first Texas office in 1927, in the city of Houston. They gained a number of contracts with Greek societies, some of them exclusive, which propelled growth. His wife was a Pi Phi, which became a staunch customer. Lloyd’s first wife died, but his second wife was also a member of the same sorority.
Over the years, Balfour continued to grow and expand its business in Texas. They opened new offices in Dallas, San Antonio, and other cities. The company also expanded its product line, offering a wide range of graduation products, including class rings, graduation announcements, and other memorabilia. Their market reached down now to high schools and even middle schools.
Heading Off a Gold Crisis
Gold and other precious metals used in rings etc. eventually shot through the roof in price. Balfour nimbly moved to other satisfactory alloys such as Celestrium.
Diversification and New Marketing Techniques
In the 1980s and 1990s, Balfour faced increasing competition from other companies such as Josten’s (with whom they later joined forces) in the graduation products market, as well as changing consumer preferences. To remain competitive, the company introduced new products and services, such as customized graduation announcements and online ordering.
Lloyd Balfour controlled his company until his death in the mid 1940s. It remained in the family until Commemorative Brands bought the company in 1969. While there have many subsequent combinations of ownership, the Balfour brand has been the name of choice for many remaining product lines. Balfour eventually became part of American Achievement Corp. Most of their products are made themselves in their Austin, Texas facility.
In the 1960s, Balfour also managed to survive anti-trust actions from the government claimed it had set up monopolies in its various “exclusive” relationships with certain schools and organizations.
Here are some of the highest selling items in Balfour’s history:
Class Rings – Balfour is perhaps best known for its class rings, which have been a popular graduation tradition for many years. Balfour has sold millions of class rings over its history, and they remain one of the company’s top-selling products.
Graduation Announcements – Balfour also sells a wide range of graduation announcements, including traditional printed announcements as well as more modern digital announcements. These announcements are a popular way for students to let friends and family know about their upcoming graduation.
Yearbooks – Balfour is a leading provider of yearbooks, which are a popular way for students to remember their time in high school or college. Having partnered with Taylor Publishing, the company has sold millions of yearbooks over its history, and they remain a popular product today.
Graduation Gowns and Caps – Balfour also sells graduation gowns and caps, which are worn by students during graduation ceremonies. These products are typically sold to schools or universities rather than individual students.
Medals and Awards – Balfour also produces a wide range of medals and awards that are often given out to students and faculty members for their academic achievements or contributions to the school community. These products are typically sold to schools or universities as well.
Overall, Balfour has sold millions of graduation products over its history, and class rings, graduation announcements, yearbooks, graduation gowns and caps, and medals and awards are among the highest selling items in the company’s history.
- Year Started: 1913
- Year Ended: 2099
- Origin Of Name: Name of Founder
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Lloyd G. Balfour
- Owner While In Use: Several
- Owner Successor: American Achievement Corp.
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Balfour
- Naics Code: 339910
- Location Headquarters: Austin, Texas USA