The beginnings

In 1909, while Loren Berry was selling ads for timetables in Dayton, Ohio, he was contacted by his brother-in-law, Ed Kneipple, to sell advertising in the local telephone directory in Marion, Indiana.

The telephone company was able to pay the printing costs, pay Loren Berry, and make a small profit.

1910

Loren Berry and his wife, Lucille, moved to Dayton. He rented office space in the U.B. Building downtown and began The Ohio Guide Company printing timetables. He continued pursuing advertising sales on the side, and soon began selling full time.

directory

End of 1910

Loren Berry secured his first directory contract with the Dayton Home Telephone Company.

When he first contacted them, he learned advertising had already been solicited in Dayton, but Loren Berry was convinced he could sell even more. He raised the amount sold for the directory within six months from $500 to $1,200.

Six months later, he secured a contract with United States Independent Telephone Company in Columbus, which owned 15 independent telephone companies including the Dayton Home Telephone Company. His next contract covered Fostoria, Youngstown, Findlay, Canton, Washington CH, Steubenville, and Alliance. A third contract covered the Springfield directory, with Xenia.

Loren Berry recognized early the potential of the telephone system and communications.

1912

Loren Berry formed the Craven and Berry partnership with George Craven to expand sales.

1915

Loren Berry secured contracts with the three largest independent telephone companies in the Middle West: St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Louisville.

1917

Contracts were signed with the United States Independent Telephone Company for its largest cities: Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo.

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April 1, 1923

Loren Berry relocated its headquarters in the newly constructed Keith Building in Dayton. By 1931, the seven rooms were crowded, so they leased larger quarters in the Ohio Bell Telephone Building.

1924

The Craven and Berry partnership was dissolved due to Craven’s health, and it became The L.M. Berry and Company.

1920

Craven and Berry signed the Rochester Telephone Company, which became one of the oldest and largest accounts. Craven and Berry won the Keystone Telephone Company contract in Philadelphia.

Loren Berry included his slogan on the first Philadelphia canvas, “It can be done.”

Central Union Telephone Company and Ohio State Telephone Company merged to form the Ohio Bell Telephone Company. Loren Berry sold all of the cover space for Cleveland directory canvas in less than a week’s time.

Shortly after 1920…

The four large companies Craven and Berry were handling sold out to Bell companies. Loren Berry made a deal with Ed Carter, the Commercial Manager for the Bell Company, to sell their directory advertising for two years. Later, Loren Berry talked with him and secured his first Bell contract, covering Dayton and the exchanges in the Dayton district.

April 1, 1923

Loren Berry relocated its headquarters in the newly constructed Keith Building in Dayton. By 1931, the seven rooms were crowded, so they leased larger quarters in the Ohio Bell Telephone Building.

1924

The Craven and Berry partnership was dissolved due to Craven’s health, and it became The L.M. Berry and Company.

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The Berry Family: Loren Berry, Martha Berry, Charles
Berry, Loren Berry Jr., John Berry, Lucile Berry
"Our company has grown because I have had good people around me."
-Loren Berry

1920 - 1930

This was a period of expansion and reorganization. Despite losing four large independent companies, Loren Berry had added over 100 small- and medium-sized directories. Business expanded, as well as the sales and office teams. Loren Berry did all of his own bookkeeping, even sending paychecks out to salesmen.

It was also during this time frame that Loren Berry realized the communication industry, Telephony, was going to be a driving economic force for years to come. He made the decision to invest capital in many telephone companies.

The end result was a large financial footprint in the industry. He was on multiple boards and was a leader in the development of United Utilities as a force within the Telephone Industry. As consolidation took place, his financial interest grew.

By 1929, Loren Berry had handled or published 1,366,500 directory copies.

July 1932

During the depression, Loren Berry secured a contract for Dayton and Middletown and achieved a great increase in advertising in the Dayton directory.

1933

Loren Berry secured the first international contract with the Manitoba Telephone System, owned by the province of Manitoba, Canada.

1933-1934

Loren Berry secured the first Southern Bell contract in Louisville. On the first issue, the Berry salesman was able to increase the advertising by 39.8%, from $59,243 to $82,805.

1940

Loren Berry's son, John, joined the company as a salesman during his college summers.

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Loren Berry, working at his desk.

1942

Loren Berry secured Southern Bell contracts in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville, Tennessee and in Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery, Alabama.

1946

John Berry joined the company in a management role.

1947

Loren Berry secured a contract from Tidewater Telephone Company in Virginia. A contract was signed to handle all contracts for Wisconsin Bell Telephone Company.

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Loren Berry, working at his desk.

1948

John Berry became the General Sales Manager. Under his leadership, the company expanded from 150 to 1,200 employees and branch offices from five to 23.

In the spring…

Contracts were awarded to The L.M. Berry and Company for handling all directory work in Mississippi and Louisiana.

By this point, The L.M. Berry and Company continued to handle all of the directory advertising sales work for Southern Bell in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This also included all Bell cities in Wisconsin, 12 bell directories in Ohio, and 14 bell directories in New York.

1959

The company expanded their art section from 39 artists and seven supervisors in 1953 to 110 artists and 17 supervisors in 1959.

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In 1960, the company celebrated 50 years, and John Berry became Managing Director.

The company transitioned from a sole proprietorship to a corporation. The L.M. Berry Foundation was founded.

meeting
Early meeting of the Executive Committee of The L.M. Berry Company.

1963

John Berry became the company’s President, adding new telephone customers and achieving record-breaking revenue growth.

1965

At this time, The L.M. Berry Company was responsible for about one out of every four directories published in the United States.

1966

John Berry saw opportunities internationally and approached ITT Corporation, a major international conglomerate with the idea to create, capitalize, and organize an international directory company. With that, World Directories was born and would become the largest directory publisher outside of the United States. Over the next decade, World Directories would publish directories in multiple countries from England, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, South Africa, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, etc.

1973

John Berry became Chairman of the company.

1980

Loren Berry passed away and the ownership and management were assumed by the next generations. The L.M. Berry Company was rebranded as The Berry Company.

1986

After a four-year reorganization within the telephone industry, The Berry Company was sold to Bell South. This provided greater opportunities for growth, but the ownership would no longer be controlled by the Berry family.

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The Berry Company Executive Committee, 1985:
Jim Payne, John Berry Jr., Robbie Robinson, George
Chamberlin, Mike Fenney, Ray Eshelman, John Berry,
Bill Craig, Bob Womsley

1986

The L.M. Berry Foundation changed its name to The Berry Family Foundation and moved offices. It continues, to this day, to support charities within the Dayton community and fulfill the mission of its founders.

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John William Berry Sr. circa 1995

1998

John Berry Sr. passed away and The Berry Family Foundation was passed on to the next generation to carry on its mission and vision for the future.

The company has always recognized the fact that its operation affects people… and people make up a community, a state, and a nation.