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Roscoe Celebrates 99 Years in Business

Mark Stedman - Thursday August 13, 2020

New Blog Series to Commemorate 100th Anniversary

As Roscoe celebrates 99 years in business today, we’re looking forward to a spectacular celebration next year when we reach a milestone that really has us thinking big. At the same time, it’s impossible not to spend a little time looking back…

A lot has happened in 100 years, and any family-owned business in its fourth generation has stories to tell, with family and business achievements and struggles taking place in the context of the bigger history and cultural shifts that serve as more than just a backdrop.

The story of Roscoe takes place over a lot of interesting times, in an interesting city and with a cast of characters that “interesting” doesn’t really come close to describing.

The history is complete with a World’s Fair, war-time tales, run-ins with Chicago mobsters, and an undying passion for innovation and Scottish kilts.

Beginning next month, we’ll be sharing some of those stories with you, launching our Century of Pride series, detailing Roscoe’s (almost) 100 years of colorful history through the recollections of modern family members, some written histories and an irresistible trove of faded note cards, old photos and family lore.

A Tale of Two Machinists-Turned-Entrepreneurs

When Roscoe’s founders J.P. O’Connell and George C. Buik met in 1915, they were both in their mid-twenties, working as machinists manufacturing cans at the American Can Company in Maywood – described in a 2005 Chicago Tribune story as “the birthplace in 1935 of the beer can.”

The Buik family had come to the area from Scotland while O’Connell was a native of Pennsylvania. Their friendship and partnership began on a rocky note after O’Connell briefly made an issue of the fact that George held a job that “should have gone to an ‘American’” – a quintessentially “American” point of friction that, just as quintessentially, evaporated into camaraderie.

That was just the beginning of a story that spans decades, wars, social upheaval, and economic turmoil as Roscoe grew rapidly alongside the Windy City.

We’re excited to bring you more of our founders’ story and the stories that followed as three subsequent generations of the Buik family grew Roscoe into a business that will celebrate 100 years of family and local pride in August of 2021.

We couldn’t have done it without our team members and our customers, who are some of the hardest working people in the Chicago area. These are their stories, too.

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