An important Aberdeen implement and machine maker: Ben Reid & Co

In 1890 Ben Reid & Co., Aberdeen, opened a new premises in Aberdeen to enable it to grow its business and to undertake its work more efficiently and effectively.

The North British Agriculturist published an extensive account of the opening of these new premises from the Implement and Machinery Review in its issue of 19 October 1892. It also provided information on the history of the company It is worth quoting at length:

“The current number of the Implement and Machinery Review contains a very interesting article on the Bon Accord Works, Aberdeen, from which we make the following extract: Deriving its name (Aberdeen) from the Dee, on the north bank of which it lies, this town of 113,000 inhabitants was regarded as “a place of some commerce” by the Normans in 1153, and her people’s watchword, “Bon Accord”, in Bruce’s time, is still her motto. Ever courageous, her citizens have sought to soar higher socially and industrially, and a drive through Aberdeen and her environs to-day shows unmistakably that she is “in the running” with the fleetest of the nation’s most progressive people. The spirit of emulation, which is characteristic of “men of mettle” was soon exemplified in Benjamin Reid of that city, who, starting in life as a gardener, soon became a florist, afterwards a seed merchant, also a horticultural implement vendor, and lived to be none other than the stepping-stone for the important implement making business now conducted at the Bon Accord Works, which his nephew ultimately founded. Ben Reid was a man of great integrity, and his nephew George, like him, lived to be beloved, but he was far more enterprising than his respected relative. They were in partnership for about six years, but George’s ambition was to widen the scope of their operations, and when the reins of administration fell solely into his hands he began seed drill making in Union Street, and thereto removed the wire working branch from his Guild Street premises that they might be kept exclusively as a seed depot, distinct from what he hoped would in time become constructive works of some significance. But the seed vending and seed drill making and wire weaving businesses ultimately grew to such an extent that they outran his ability to conveniently control them personally; and so good a trade was bemirrored in the increasing call he experienced for different classes of implements and machinery that even more efficient supervisional help than his was rendered necessary. Determined to extend the reputation he had acquired, he kept his eye upon two good business men who had impressed him with their ability to consummate his wishes. They were William Anderson, then representing Messrs Murray & Co., of Banff, and Robert G. Garvie, manager of the Northern Agricultural Implement Co., of Inverness. That he was ‘cute in their selection is certain, for whilst the former had originally conducted his own smithy and implement business at Macduff, and had acquired much experience of men and home and export business in his outside management of an agricultural engineer’s affairs, the latter had been brought up in his father’s mill, where a practical acquaintance with the joiner’s craft had made him conversant with constructive methods, and he had supplemented this knowledge by valuable experience inseparable from the responsible position he afterwards held in Inverness. To gauge their views in hope of assimilating them with his ideas, Mr George Reid interviewed them in London at one of the best meeting places possible for such a purpose. This was at the Smithfield Show at Islington. The offer he made them was tendered as “an excellent one”. They agreed to join him, and became partners in 1876, but he has “passed away”. Yet, as the sole surviving proprietors of the Bon Accord Works (still conducted as Ben Reid & Co’s), Messrs Anderson & Garvie not only look back with pleasure upon the genuineness of George Reid’s promises, but love to dwell upon his good qualities of mind and heart. Reverting to the Smithfield interview whilst addressing us, “I well remember”, said Mr Anderson, “Mr Reid’s saying, with a. degree of forcefulness not to be forgotten, “I’ve a good business for you”. That statement’s correctness has been fully borne out, for we’ve been prospering ever since”. This avowal appears to be as true as George Reid’s statement was correct, for we fins that within the last ten years no less than three gold, fifteen silver, and five bronze medals, cut of a total of ninety prizes, have been awarded them by notable Agricultural Societies in recognition of their goods’ superiority; and their implements and machinery have found buyers, not only in the British Isles, but in Cape Colony, Natal, the Argentine Republic, Bolivia, Chili, Canada, Ceylon, Egypt, India, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, and Norway, a single order for a hundred threshing machines having been given by one of these markets not long ago.”

An informative account on a great Aberdeen company and its new premises!