Wagner History: A Family Legacy Rich in Tradition


"Since our origin in 1850, Wagner has been committed to creating and manufacturing innovative metal products for the fabricating industry in an atmosphere that is prosperous for our customers and employees. Our mission is to maintain the highest standard of quality and service and continuously improve our manufacturing methods. We are proud of our progress and growth and are aware of the responsibility to maintain our leadership and reputation."

– Bob Wagner, CEO

With a legacy that stretches all the way back to 1835, the current success of the company is a testament to the fundamental principles and products it was founded upon so many years ago. Still operated by the fourth generation of the Wagner family, the company’s roots are based on the pioneering ironwork established by Gustav Wagner over 170 years ago.

History of Wagner


Gustav Wagner started a blacksmith shop in Buffalo, NY.


Gustav Wagner moved his work to Milwaukee and started an Iron Railing & Iron Works shop on a site that in present-day would be across from the Milwaukee Court House at 518 N. Market St.


Adolph F. Wagner, son of Gustav Wagner, founded the A.F. Wagner Iron Works.


Adolph A. Wagner joined his father, Adolph F. Wagner, at A.F. Wagner Iron Works. Adolph A. Wagner grew up in Milwaukee and became active in the family business. Under the Wagners’ creative hands, A.F. Wagner Iron Works became one of the city’s largest and most respected industrial enterprises.

The company manufactured structural steel, miscellaneous and ornamental iron, provided wire work, and manufactured metal products for industrial, municipal and residential buildings, and bridges. A.F. Wagner Iron Works was known for bridges constructed throughout the country.


Adolph A. Wagner developed a hydraulically operated tractor loader and was issued the first of many patents. He also created one of the first commercially available small garden tractors—The Little Giant. Wagner was dominating the market until other companies began competing with the tractor loaders in 1953.


Adolph A. Wagner officially founded the business sector of R&B Wagner, Inc. in 1955. However, Wagner still had other sister companies that were yet to be taken under the collective R&B Wagner name.

At the age of 59, Adolph A. Wagner begins working on the products that Wagner is known for today. With his basement as his workshop, he designed approximately 40 products that included fittings such as elbows, flanges and connectors. Today, those forty-some products have grown into over 4,000 catalog items.


Advance Stamping Company, Inc. was purchased. R&B Wagner had been operating in the same location with Advance Stamping, manufacturing the products that R&B Wagner, Inc. distributed.


Robert A. Wagner joined his father, Adolph A. Wagner, in the family business after receiving his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE).


Superior Polishing was purchased to provide in-house polishing services.


Johann Tube and Pipe Benders, Inc. joined with R&B Wagner. Johan was established in 1935 to serve the bending and end forming needs of local industrial terms. This addition added to Wagner’s bending capabilities.


Although R&B Wagner, Inc. was founded in 1955, all companies under the Wagner name were officially combined under one legal entity, “R&B Wagner, Inc.” in 2001.


Wagner introduces our first illuminated railing system, Lumenrail®.


R&B Wagner, Inc. celebrated its 50th Anniversary! H&R Polishing joined Wagner and expanded our custom polishing capabilities.


Wagner launched our original dry glaze glass shoe moulding system, PanelGrip™.


Wagner launched our e-commerce site, Shop.Wagner.com.


The Wagner family sold 100% of the ownership of R&B Wagner to its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) making Wagner an employee-owned company.


Wagner purchased the assets of Enprocon Inc., including the ENDURALL™ brand of stainless steel junction boxes. Wagner celebrated 65 years as R&B Wagner, Inc.