Greeneville’s oldest manufacturer, American Calendar Company recently reunited with a piece of its past — the company it split from about 90 years ago.
Founded in Greeneville in 1876 by Henry Royce Brown, Brown Manufacturing originally made over-the-counter patent medicines called Ramon’s Remedies, and it made the original Farmer’s Almanac calendars to advertise them with the pharmacies that sold them.
“Those kinds of ‘cure-all tonics,’ liver pills and things like that were popular back then, and that’s what was made here,” explained Miles Kilday, co-owner of American Calendar with his brother Brandon.
He said the original Brown Manufacturing building was on Summer Street until the building on Elm Street that now serves as American Calendar’s main office was completed in 1901.
“They used to box the medicines in this building, and they had huge printing presses for the calendars,” Kilday said.
He noted the building, as well as another nearby, were built with direct access to railroad tracks and with a separate track for loading and unloading.
“Science and medicine changed a lot between the 1870s and the 1930s, and by then the calendar part of the business was as profitable as the medicines they were originally made to promote,” he said.
That’s when Brown sold Brown’s Manufacturing, separating it from American Calendar, which by then was producing promotional calendars for many pharmacies and other businesses. He sold American Calendar to John Hubert Kilday Jr., Miles’ and Brandon’s grandfather, in 1966, and it has been in the Kilday family since, gradually expanding its product line to adapt to changes in the industry.
Brown Manufacturing also moved away from producing medicines and was only making those original calendars when American Calendar purchased it in February.
“We’ve been doing our own version of the Almanac calendar since the split, but we now have the rights to that old Ramon’s calendar brand and the ‘Little Doctor’ logo,” he said.
Brown Manufacturing has been based in New York since Brown sold it, but the acquisition in February brings it back to Greeneville.
“That purchase is two-fold for us because we’ve secured the almanac business, but it’s also important because it’s connected to us,” Kilday said. “I like to say it’s like the ‘Little Doctor’ took the long way home. He went all the way up to New York, and now he’s coming back home.”
The image of the Little Doctor in his green coat and top hat can be seen on several artifacts of American Calendar’s history on display in the building, including panes of stained glass in Kilday’s office window, but now American Calendar officially owns the rights to the icon. It also gained accounts with about 500 businesses for which it will continue making the original Ramon’s Farmer’s Almanac calendars.
Kilday said the acquisition closed Brown Manufacturing’s New York operations, but employees there were transferred to another company owned by the seller. He said American Calendar added four positions, purchased some new equipment and expanded its paper storage, but all in all he said American Calendar was well prepared to take on Brown Manufacturing.
“We have about 100 different products, so those kinds of calendars are just a small part of what we do today,” Kilday said.
He said American Calendar uses cutting-edge printing technology, including some of the biggest presses in the state, to produce a wide range of products for business clients and other print shops in the region that do not have presses as large as American Calendar’s.
He said the company has added four new products this year, and in the fall will introduce a special vintage Ramon’s Brownie Calendar to celebrate the acquisition as well as the company’s 145-year anniversary it marked in 2021.
American Calendar is hiring for production positions for the busy season and will soon begin seeking an accountant.
For more information about American Calendar, visit www.calendarcompany.com.