From Wood-Jacketed Tins To Aerospace and Global Can Leadership

Our legacy is characterized by ingenuity and a forward-thinking vision – Ball produces the highest quality products that make a positive contribution to our customers’ lives. While the scale of our operations today is global, our beginnings were humble. In 1880, five brothers founded Ball with a $200 loan from their Uncle George. They started out making wood-jacketed tin cans for products like paint and kerosene, but soon expanded their offerings to glass and tin-jacketed containers. In 1884, they began making glass home-canning jars, the product that made Ball a household name. The brothers — Edmund, Frank, George, Lucius and William — moved the company from Buffalo, New York, to Muncie, Indiana, in 1887 to take advantage of abundant natural gas reserves and expand production.

Over the course of our long history, Ball has entered more than 45 businesses. Although we no longer manufacture the eponymous canning jars, we have grown into a worldwide aluminum packaging and space technology company. We make billions of recyclable aluminum containers and operate an aerospace business that designs one-of-a-kind solutions to address many of today’s greatest scientific and technical challenges. Our manufacturing operations span four continents, and our company headquarters are located in Westminster, Colorado. 

The Ball Family

Ball – a household name that remains familiar across the U.S. and around the world. 

The Ball brothers were raised in eastern Ohio, in Grand Island on the Niagara River, and on the shore of Lake Canandaigua, New York. Their father, Lucius Ball, was a farmer, inventor and respected citizen who instilled confidence and a belief that they could succeed in whatever business they undertook. Maria Ball, a schoolteacher, gave her children love, inspiration and direction, urging them to go into business together. In 1880, the Ball brothers established a company that would eventually become an international success story. 

Parents Lucius Styles Ball (1814-1878) and Maria Polly Bingham Ball (1822-1892) had six sons and two daughters:

Children:

  • Lucina Amelia (1847-1901)
  • Lucius Lorenzo (1850-1932)
  • William Charles (1852-1921)
  • Edmund Burke (1855-1925)
  • Frank Clayton (1857-1943)
  • Mary Frances (1860-1926)
  • George Alexander (1862-1955)
  • Clinton Harvey (1867-1869)

The Ball Brothers

The Ball Brothers
Edmund B. Ball - 1855-1925

Edmund secured the $200 from Uncle George to buy the Wooden Jacket Can Co., the forerunner of Ball Corporation. He served as secretary and treasurer of the newly incorporated Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company. Ed was well-liked by plant employees who once presented him with a gold pocket watch to signify their adoration and appreciation. He was also known for his commitment to humanitarian projects, although he preferred to stay in the background. Ed’s estate provided the original funding for the Ball Brothers Foundation and its first major project, Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, was completed four years after his death. His son, Edmund F. Ball, went on to serve the company as chairman, president and CEO for 18 years.

Frank C. Ball - 1857-1943

An early salesman for the Wooden Jacket Can Co., Frank was responsible for moving the company from Buffalo to Muncie, Ind., in 1887. Frank served as the company’s first president for 63 years.

George A. Ball - 1862-1955

George served the company as bookkeeper, secretary, treasurer, vice president, president and board chairman. He participated in the company's evolution from its early days of making kerosene cans and fruit jars to its current leadership at the threshold of the space age. He served on the boards of numerous organizations including Borg-Warner Corporation, Nickel Plate Railroad, Indiana University, Ball State Teachers College (known today as Ball State University) and Ball Memorial Hospital. In 1935, he became the owner of the Nickel Plate Railroad.  He was also a Republican national committeeman for several years.

Lucius L. Ball - 1850-1932

Lucius fulfilled his lifelong ambition – after he had seen to it that his younger brothers and sisters were educated and established – to study and become a physician at the age of 40. He was a quiet, thoughtful, compassionate man with a shy sense of humor. In addition to his private medical practice, he served as medical adviser for the Western Reserve Life Insurance Company, then located in Muncie, Ind.

William C. Ball - 1852-1921

William had a reputation of being a tremendously effective salesman. He served the company as a salesman and its secretary until his death at age 69.

History of Ball

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Timeline

The Ball brothers' spirit of optimism and resilience lives on today in everything we do. Our approach has always been “We Can” and, in the 21st century, we remain true to our roots.

2021

2021

The James Webb Space Telescope, which provides humanity’s deepest views of the universe, launches. Ball designed and built the advanced optical technology and lightweight mirror system that will enable Webb to look 13.5 billion years back in time.

2019

2019

Ball introduces its innovative lightweight aluminum Ball Cup.

2017

2017

The Ball-built Joint Polar Satellite System launches.

2016

2016

Ball acquires Rexam PLC, becoming the world’s largest producer of aluminum beverage cans.

2015

2015

Diversity & Inclusion becomes an integral part of how Ball evaluates its business.

2011

2011

Ball acquires Aerocan S.A.S., a leading supplier of aluminum aerosol cans and bottles in Europe.

2010

2010

Ball becomes the largest supplier of aluminum slugs in the world with its two acquisitions:                                                                                  

  • Neuman Aluminum, then the leading North American manufacturer of the base material used in extruded aerosol cans, beverage bottles, aluminum collapsible tubes, and technical impact extrusions.
  • Aerocan S.A.S., a leading supplier of aluminum aerosol cans and bottles in Europe

2009

2009

Ball acquires four metal beverage can plants from AB InBev, making Ball the largest supplier of beverage cans in the world.

2009

2009

Ball-built Kepler Spacecraft launches.

2008

2008

Ball issues the company’s first sustainability report.

2006

2006

Ball acquires U.S. Can, a U.S.-based aerosol and specialty metal packaging company, and merges it with Ball’s metal food-packaging operations to form the metal food and household products packaging division.

2002

2002

Ball acquires Schmalbach-Lubeca AG, the German-based metal-can beverage company, to create Ball Packaging Europe. The move boosts Ball’s beverage can sales by more than $1 billion annually.

1998

1998

Ball relocates its headquarters from Muncie, Ind., to Broomfield, Colo.

1998

1998

Ball acquires Reynolds Metals Co. and becomes the largest aluminum can producer in the US.

1997

1997

Ball acquires M.C. Packaging Ltd. in China. Combined with Ball’s FTB Packaging Ltd. joint venture there, it makes Ball the largest supplier of cans in the Chinese market.

1996

1996

Ball exits the glass jar business for which it is widely known. Ball sells its remaining interest in Ball-Foster Glass Company to Group Saint Gobain. It had entered a joint venture with the company a year earlier.

1995

1995

Ball Aerospace delivers corrective optics to repair the Hubble space telescope. Ball’s aerospace business converts to a wholly-owned subsidiary, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

1995

1995

Ball forms Latapack-Ball Embalagens Ltda joint-venture; enters Brazilian beverage can market.

1992

1992

Ball adopts the Economic Value Added (eva®) incentive model for executive compensation.

1993

1993

Ball acquires Heekin Can, Inc. Heekin is the largest regional manufacturer of metal food containers in the U.S. prior to the acquisition. Combined with Ball Packaging Products Canada, Inc.’s six plants, the eleven former Heekin plants make Ball the third-largest producer of metal food-and-aerosol cans in the North American market.

1984

1984

Ball sales reach $1 billion annually.

1973

1973

Ball listed on New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol "BLL".

1972

1972

Ball completes its initial public offering.

1969

1969

The company changes its name to Ball Corporation.

1969

1969

Ball enters beverage can business, acquiring Jeffco manufacturing co. in Golden, Colorado, to form its metal beverage container operations.

1956

1956

Ball forms the Ball Brothers Research Corporation. Known today as Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. The company produces space systems engineering products, telecommunications technology, electro-optics, and cryogenics materials for government and commercial customers.

1922

1922

The company name changes to Ball Brothers Company.

1887

1887

The company relocates to Muncie, Indiana.

1886

1886

Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company is incorporated. The Ball brothers begin manufacturing glass jars.

1880

1880

Frank and Edmund Ball start the Wooden Jacketed Can Company in Buffalo, New York.