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About Us

Robert Lee Brame
Robert Lee Brame

Brame Specialty Company began as a one-employee, one-room operation in January of 1924. Robert Lee Brame, the company founder, began this business with a second-hand truck bought on credit and a total capital of one hundred dollars, which represented his entire savings. Together with hard work, dedicated employees and most of all loyal customers, the company has grown in many ways.

Mr R.L. started out selling sweeping compound, which he made himself. He selected the name Brame Specialty Company because, first, it was his name; and second, he wasn't sure in which direction he would go or what products he would ultimately sell.

In 1925, an old five-room house was leased for $25 per month. Running water and the addition of a telephone were great improvements enjoyed by the young company.

Deciding to begin dealing directly with manufacturers, Mr. R.L. traveled to New York where he located a manufacturer of roll butcher's paper. He arranged credit terms and persuaded them to send a (train) carload of roll paper to Durham. Enthusiasm over receipt of this first carload of merchandise, however, was short lived. A week of heavy rains had undermined the structure and the floors in three of the rooms collapsed, dumping roll paper to the ground and bulging the building on two sides. A better building of brick was located next door and after some negotiating, the paper and other inventory were shifted next door.

In 1930, Mr. R.L. bought a lot on Washington Street and built a warehouse. The new office consisted of a bookkeeper, two salesmen, two warehouseman/drivers and Mr. R.L. The organization continued to develop a promising business until late in 1933 when calamity struck in the form of a fire, which destroyed the building.

J.B. Brame
J.B. Brame

After the fire, the company took up temporary spaces in different parts of Durham. When J.B. Brame, son of the founder, returned from World War II he designed a modern fireproof building that was built in 1955 on the Washington Street lot. Almost simultaneously, the company was incorporated, which helped assure the continuity of the business in the future. J.B. succeeded his father as president in 1965. Mr. R.L., from the beginning of the company until his death in 1968, sold and delivered merchandise himself.

Jim Brame, Jr. who succeeded his father as president in 1984, joined the firm in 1959 and was followed by brothers Bob in 1964 and Randy in 1971. The three sons, like their father and grandfather before them, aided by a team of dedicated employees, have sustained the company's health and rapid growth.

Along with the General Divisions growth in Durham, the company expanded throughout North Carolina and Virginia with Rocky Mount opening in 1947, Wilmington in 1977, Charlotte in 1985 and Roanoke, Virginia is 1991.

In 1989 a outlet store named Not Just Paper was opened in downtown Durham to provide service to walk-in customers, plus offer school and office supplies in a retail store setting.

A brand new 80,000 square foot facility in Durham was completed in 1991, which now houses the General Division. The Washington Street location currently houses the Corporate Offices as well as the School and Office Supply Division.

It is no secret that our continued growth is a result of loyal customers and the reason we are in business. Dedicated employees, excellent suppliers and a management team that puts customer service first are also part of the Brame success story.