Every two years, the wide world of design and building products congregates in Munich for what seems like an endless feast for anyone hungry to understand the current state of the technologies available for getting great buildings built.
Besides its return from a pandemic hiatus, there is another reason we are especially excited for the BAU Trade Fair this year. Bridgeport Worldwide will be joining our great partner and veritable neighbor here in coastal Connecticut, Accurate Lock and Hardware, to exhibit their world-class mortise locks in the exhibit hall, or Messe as the germans call it.
Opening day, moments before the BAU opens. "How do we get her pass?'"
This year, the BAU will span 19 enormous exhibit halls, each displaying a different category of building product. With over 2,300 exhibitors spread over 2-million square feet showing everything from adhesives, tools, and tiles, to car parking systems, building envelopes and, our focus, door opening solutions.
In past years, the BAU was not only an opportunity to feel the cutting edge in person, but to have face-to-face meetings with the European manufacturers that we've introduced to the North American market. In some ways, this year's BAU will serve as a platform for Bridgeport Worldwide's primary mission, and will showcase an interesting historical reversal that is ongoing and worth a mention.
Yale Lock's First Plant in Stamford, Connecticut, circa 1905
In the mid-19th century, Bridgeport was a global center for technological innovation and manufacturing in door hardware. Before their hyphenated comminglings, names like Schlage, Corbin, Russwin, Yale, Sargent, Stanley, and a hundred other smaller start-ups, made their names and their fortunes inventing, making, and distributing locks worldwide in what can be best described as a Silicon Valley-like frenzy of brass, lathes, and finishing vats. Now, only the names remain.
Beginning in the 1970s, most of that legacy manufacturing vacated this area of Connecticut. One exception to that migration was Accurate Lock and Hardware, which established itself just fifty years ago as the others were abandoning lock-making in the United States. Founded in 1972 by Ron Salvatore, Accurate Lock and Hardware built a reputation for performance, design, custom engineering, and quality manufacturing that is now unmatched in North America. Their approach marries the pride in traditional craftsmanship that drove early industry pioneers, with modern tools and techniques, creating a powerhouse that keeps the rest of the high-end hardware world going. Accurate Lock and Hardware is the undisputed gold-standard.
Bridgeport Worldwide was founded in part from the realization that European manufacturers had really taken the lead in building and door hardware technology, seemingly decades ahead of the building product technology and practices in the US. We saw our role as identifying, sourcing, and introducing these mainly European products to the best designers and builders, hoping to elevate the art of building here. In a way, this was a reverse re-centering of what had existed in the 19th century when Connecticut was a primary exporter of building technology. Now we bring the best products here and build the market for them throughout North America.
With a few excellent manufacturers, like Accurate, remaining to hold up the banner of quality hardware manufacturing in this part of Connecticut, and Bridgeport Worldwide's distribution of best-in-class building products from around the globe, this corner of New England remains a hotbed of cutting-edge door hardware in North America.
While at the BAU, we'll be doing our usual deep dives with the many vendors whose brands we've introduced and developed in this market including FORMANI, Simonswerk, AGS, Planet, and FUHR. However, a big part of our excitement is in partnering with Accurate to present their world-class custom mortise locks (Hall C4/Booth 207)—still proudly made in the original cradle of modern door hardware manufacturing—which, in essence, serves to close a kind of circle connecting Bridgeport's past with it's future.