One of the largest and best known of the jewelry manufacturing concerns during the past half century since the American Horological Journal was established is that of Krementz & Co., whose main office and factory is located at Chestnut and Mulberry Sts. The concern had its beginnings in 1866.
The concern had its beginnings in 1866 when George Krementz, in partnership with two other young men, commenced manufacturing, in a small way, on the second floor of 14 Oliver St., Newark. This partnership did not continue long. After another change in business, Mr. Krementz associated himself, in 1869, the very year whose anniversary we are now observing, his cousin, Julius Lebkuecher. At that time the firm name was changed to Krementz & Co., which name has been retained ever since.
So rapidly did the business grow that the whole of the Oliver St. building, a three-story and basement structure, was occupied. A few years later this building became too small, and in 1875 the factory building at Chestnut and Mulberry Sts. was purchased. It was remodeled and enlarged, and in the Spring of 1876 was occupied by the firm. A T-shaped addition was built in 1899 on the adjoining lot, extending 75 feet on Chestnut St., with a width of 100 feet. The factory ranked among the best equipped in the country.
When the addition was first built the structure was too large for the immediate demands of Krementz & Co. Accommodations were furnished other jewelry manufacturing concerns, including Larter, Elcox & Co., A Joralemon & Co. and Van Houten Bros. In a few years, however, the company required the whole building for its own needs.
Until 1878 the firm's sales were confined to the jobbing trade. At that time an office was opened in New York and salesmen were sent out to visit the retail trade. From that time the reputation of Krementz & Co., as producers of jewelry of attractive design, fine workmanship and popular price has been growing, until the firm became one of the best known in the United States.
In June, 1894, the principal office of the concern, which was then located at 182-184 Broadway, New York, was removed to Newark so as to bring office and factory into closer connection.
George Krementz, the founder of the concern, invented new articles and the machinery with which to produce them, which has made the firm famous. Among these articles is the Krementz one-piece collar button. Patents for the button and the machinery necessary to make them were secured by Mr. Krementz in 1884. To the collar button has been added the well-known one-piece bean and post cuff button, and the Krementz bodkin clutch vest button. The development of these lines carries the firm's products to all parts of the world.
George Krementz was born in 1837. He was apprenticed to the jewelry firm of Ailing, Hall & Dodd, of Newark, in 1855, and after serving his apprenticeship he entered the employ of Smith & Ford, 25 Maiden Lane, New York city. He remained with this concern tor eight years, the last four of which he was foreman of the factory. He commenced business in Newark on leaving this concern, and continued to take an interest in it up to his death, March 5, 1918.
Julius A. Lebkuecher was born in 1844. After he had served his apprenticeship in the trade he served a number of years in the commercial branch with Smith & Ford.
For four years after leaving there he was a traveling salesman for Leonard Decker. He left him in 1869 to become associated with his cousin, George Krementz. From the time of its formation until his death, May 13, 1913, Mr. Lebkuecher had charge of the sales and the business management of the concern.
Mr. Lebkuecher was elected mayor of Newark in 1894. Although the city administration had been Democratic for many years, he secured a large Republican majority.
Because of their valuable services for the concern, John N. Taylor, Thomas Krementz and Frank Krementz were admitted to an interest in the business in 1893. Mr. Taylor for years represented the firm as a traveling salesman in the eastern territory. Thomas Krementz and Frank Krementz, who were brothers of the senior partner, assisted him in the supervision of the factory.
Mr. Taylor is now head of the jewelry manufacturing concern of Taylor & Co., Inc., and Frank Krementz heads Frank Krementz Co., manufacturing jewelers. Thomas Krementz is retired.
At the death of Julius A. Lebkuecher his son, Carl H., who had been actively engaged in the business, took over his interest in the firm. After the death of George Krementz his two sons, Richard and Walter M., succeeded to his interest. The firm is now composed of Carl H. Lester (the family name having been changed in April, 1918, from Lebkuecher to Lester) and Richard and Walter M. Krementz.
Source: The Jewelers' Circular - 5th February 1919