About Us - Our History

1817 - Established in Providence by Joseph Balch

Claflin in 1817The Claflin Company traces its roots back to 1817. It was in that year that founder Joseph Balch established the business as an apothecary located at 66 South Main Street in Providence, RI. The Joseph Balch Company remained within the Balch family and flourished as J.B & Son, until it was acquired in 1873 by George L. and Arthur W. Claflin. It was renamed the George L. Claflin Company.

1886 - The leading druggist and apothecary in New England

Claflin leading apothecary in New EnglandUnder the stewardship of the Claflin family the company grew and by 1886 was recognized as the leading retail druggist and apothecary firm in New England. The company expanded as an importer and jobber of commodities required by druggists or chemist throughout the region. At the time it created and manufactured many of its own pharmaceutical formulas, and employed 20 full time pharmacists, retail personnel and an outside sales force. Product selection grew to include many sundry items, fancy toiletries and perfumes.

The company continued to diversify, providing chemicals and acids and other supplies to Providence's burgeoning jewelry industry. By 1900 the company was awarded exclusive distribution for the Dupont Paint line in New England. During these growth years the company came to occupy 62-72 South Main Street.

1904 - George L. Claflin Company

In 1904 the company was incorporated as the George L. Claflin Company. Since 1873 the company had doubled its warehousing space and increased its business three fold. Besides distributing a complete line of drugs, chemicals, patent medicines, surgical equipment and instruments, and jewelers' supplies, the company expanded to manufacture fluid extracts, tinctures, and compressed tablets as well as distribute laboratory supplies.

1930 - Expansion proves untimely

Seeking to expand their retail presence in Providence, the company purchased the prime downtown property at 150-160 Dorrance Street in 1930. The decision coincided with the onset of the great depression and by 1940 the company was forced to reorganize.

Following a brief hiatus, the George L. Claflin Company reopened in its new location at 40 Mathewson Street, Providence. Dr. Albert W. Claflin led a handful of loyal employees in reestablishing the business at that location where they remained for 19 years.

1959 - Company grows to 17,000 square feet of space

In 1959 the company was sold by the family to a group of senior managers including George H. Duggan who became President, Pasquale Faruolo, VP-Treasurer and Registered Pharmacist, William J. Rinaldi, Secretary, Asst. Treasurer and Office Manager, Kirk Smith, Attorney; and Pasquale Valone, Sales Manager. With the Mathewson Street facility facing demolition by the City, the company relocated to the former Nicholson File building at 1 Acorn Street, Providence, occupying some 17,000 square feet of warehouse, office and retail space.

1976 - Bought by present owners - The Almon Company

As retirement age neared for this group of Directors, the company was sold in June 1976 to its present owners - the Almon Company. Under the guidance of President and CE0, Ted Almon, the company in a matter of 5 years outgrew the Acorn Street location. In November of 1981 the company once again relocated to 1070 Willett Avenue in East Providence, RI.

1987 - Claflin purchases Pilgrim Medical Supply and becomes a member
of ABCO, a cooperative buying group

The significantly expanded facility allowed the company the operational capability to support its dramatic sales growth. In December of 1987, the company acquired Pilgrim Medical Supply; a significant local competitor from Ohio based Harris Wholesale. With the increase of close to $10 million in sales the company expanded its geographic coverage throughout southeastern Massachusetts, eastern Connecticut, and greater Boston.

With the rapidly consolidating competitive market, the Claflin management team led by Almon turned a strategic eye to an innovation that would come to identify the company as an industry leader for many years. In 1986 Almon proposed the concept of applying Just-in-time inventory management techniques to the hospital marketplace. Still under construction and with budgetary restraints on support service areas, the new Women and Infants Hospital of RI became the first candidate to adopt the new concept. The program, still in operation today re-defined much of supply chain management in the industry. Almon was recognized by the Health Industry Distributors Association with its highest honor, the Industry Award of Distinction (Now the John Sasen Award) in 1997, and Claflin has retained its reputation for competence and innovation in advanced logistics for hospitals to the present.

1996 - Metropolitan Supply Company joins Claflin

In 1996 Claflin formed a working agreement with one of the few remaining independent distribution firms in the region, Metropolitan Supply Company of Cambridge MA. What started as a joint marketing agreement moved to an asset purchase by Claflin and the business was absorbed into the Claflin Company in February '97.

Claflin was now operating two distribution centers in East Providence and Woburn MA and sought to consolidate to capture economies of scale. In July of 1998 the company moved its warehouse to the Airport Industrial Park, 455 Industrial Drive, Warwick, RI, and consolidated its headquarters there in 2001. It was also in 1998 that Claflin became the first Medical Distribution firm to achieve ISO 9000 registration, a distinction in quality assurance it maintains to this day.

With the growth of its subsidiary, Claflin Medical Equipment, that firm was relocated to nearby Jefferson Blvd in 2010. CME specializes in equipment project management, biomedical and logistic support services. The company has continued its dramatic growth through acquisitions in California and Greater New York and contracts with some of the industry's leading Group Purchasing Organizations and Hospital groups and now operates nationally and in Canada as a free standing enterprise.

Claflin Today

Claflin TodayToday The Claflin Co. is recognized as one of the medical distribution industry's leading independent firms with an exceptional reputation for innovative service programs and a dedicated team of associates focused on the needs of the customer. The entire Claflin family looks forward to working with you. Our relationship is important and we are committed to earning your trust as well as your business for many years to come.