100% Employee Owned, Founded 1954

Cross Company History

Serving Customers Since 1954

Cross Sales and Engineering Company was founded in November 1954 by Bill Cross, a young salesman and professional engineer with an entrepreneurial spirit. Today Cross Company has over 600 employee-owners serving customers throught the United States.  Most importantly, Bill Cross instilled a company culture built on honesty, integrity, mutual respect, trust and the highest standards of ethical business conduct.  That culture has been a cornerstone of our company and still exists today.

Initially, the company revolved around providing hydraulic hose and power transmission equipment.  Due to changes in the industry, Cross Company lost its major product line in 1962 – Aeroquip which had represented 80% of sales. But with a strong reputation in the industry, the Company was soon being courted by Parker Hannifin to distribute their entire line. The decision was quickly made to form this valuable partnership. In that year Cross Company’s hose sales exceeded even Parker’s expectations; selling more in that first year than Parker had in the entire nation the prior year.

A major growth spurt began in 1964 when we started our long-standing association with Vickers, now Eaton.  Our first branch was opened in 1967 in Greenville, SC. In 1967, our longstanding representation of Parker’s hose & fittings lines led to the origination of Hose Products Company. This group helped develop Parker distributors over a six-state area. 

During the next two decades, the Company continued to prosper, building on an aggressive plan to grow the business through mergers and acquisitions.  The following acquisitions dramatically expanded our fluid power business:

  • 1974 Edwards Engineering Co. – Atlanta, GA
  • 1980 Airdraulics Inc. – Chattanooga, TN
  • 1980 Fluid Dynamics – Birmingham, AL
  • 1986 Mueller Engineering Co. – Mobile, AL

Cross Instrumentation (originally named CPI Division) was created to represent Parker’s instrumentation divisions in the 70’s to the chemical and process industries. This was our first diversification from fluid power. Today it primarily serves the power generation, chemical, pulp & paper, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, water and wastewater industries.

​A significant event in our company’s history happened in 1979. That’s when ESOPs were first being promoted as a way for business owners to receive their equity, while also providing employees an alternative retirement savings plan that would be based on the future success of the company.  So we created one of the earliest ESOPs in the country in 1979.  Today, our proud associates own 100% of Cross Company.

Bill Cross retired in 1986 with his son Pete Cross succeeding him as CEO.  Under Pete’s leadership, the company continued to grow organically and diversify through acquisitions.  Since 1986, Cross has also acquired the following companies:

  • 1990 – Systems Components – Conyers, GA (instrumentation and fittings)
  • 1992 – Motionex – Charlotte, NC (electro-mechanical motion control)
  • 1997 – JMT Automation – Gastonia, NC (machine controls and sensors)
  • 1998 – Alt Controls – Richmond, VA (pneumatics)
  • 2000 – Automatic Controls – Knoxville, TN (process valves and actuators)
  • 2001 – ValiAir – Birmingham, AL (pneumatics)
  • 2001 – Regan Controls – Charlotte, NC (electro-mechanical motion control)
  • 2005 – Ward Technical Sales – Charlotte, NC (pneumatics)
  • 2006 – Numatics Florida – Sarasota, FL (pneumatics)
  • 2007 – Asheville Hose & Equipment – Asheville, NC (Parker Hose Store)
  • 2008 – Innovative Controls – Knoxville, TN (control systems integration)

Perhaps the most significant milestone was November 30, 2006.  That’s when the ESOP bought all of the external shares of stock in the company and we became 100% employee-owned.

More recently Cross Company has successfully navigated through two major recessions, one during 2001-2003 and the “great recession” of 2008-2010.  Through these most challenging times, Cross Company not only survived, but emerged in a stronger position and was able to gain market share.

Pete Cross retired at the end of 2009 and was succeeded by Steve Earley.  Steve joined the company in 1995 to head up strategic planning and acquisition activities before becoming president of the Cross Automation Division (formerly JMT) from 1997-2008.

Through Steve’s tenure at Cross Company, the operation saw even more tremendous growth, enabling the company to make it’s largest acquisition to date, J.A. King, a precision measurement company based in Greensboro, NC. With over 400 employees, the addition of J.A. King to the Cross family, doubled the size of the company and enabled Cross to become a big player within the calibration services industry.

With the J.A. King acquisition came new leadership. As Steve Early was set to retire in 2018, John King, former CEO and third generation owner of of J.A. King succeeded Steve in his role of CEO at Cross. Today our company is growing and is highly profitable.  Our balance sheet is very strong and we have the financial capacity to further expand our company.

Our company’s success over these many decades is a direct result of culture created and nurtured by Bill and Pete Cross, and the hard work and dedication of our employee-owners.  We are determined to carry on those rich traditions.

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