The history of C.G. Witvoet & Sons is testament to the high standards maintained throughout the years. C.G. created the company in 1932 with a few pieces of specialized equipment and soon built an unmatched reputation for reliable, friendly service.
These qualities drew clients such as the Chicago show houses of the 1940's, the Detroit Auto Conventions, the Brussels World's Fair, the Ford Museum, and many others. Expanding through the years, we added equipment and skilled employees passing the family business on from generation to generation. Today, Witvoet & Sons employs dozens of designers and craftsmen, and has state-of-the-art computer software and production equipment to meet the ever increasing diversity of materials and demands of today's market.
The Great Depression
C.G. Witvoet & Sons, Co. was conceived out of the depression in 1932. Laid off from his job as a band sawyer for Johnson Furniture company, C.G. began to earn a living making jigsaw puzzles. His brother-in-law was a calendar salesman and he was able to use the calendar pictures to glue onto a plywood base. He hand cut each jig saw puzzle with such accuracy that when finished, the whole puzzle could be picked up by one corner without any of the intricate pieces falling out. With the help of his brother-in-law as a salesman, his biggest customer became the Detroit based Hudson's department store.
C.G. Witvoet and his family lived in an apartment located above a meat store. The proprietor of the store wondered if C.G. could make him a simple sign that read "Meats". This was his first sign order of any kind and we have been making letters ever since.
The first customer of any consequence was a Spanjer Bros. of Chicago. Spanjer specialized in hand carved lettering for many things including circus caliopes. C.G. thought this might be a good place to start and so walked and hitch-hiked the distance to Chicago to try to get a meeting. Once there he met personally with Mr. Spanjer who was very impressed with his workmanship. By the time C.G. was able to make his way back to Grand Rapids, his first order from Spanjer was sitting in the mail on the kitchen table. Witvoet & Sons continued to produce lettering for Spanjer Bros. for over 45 years.
C.G. Witvoet was a devout Christian and never worked on Sundays. According to family lore, he also was not able to work on Mondays. The reason being that the motor he used to power his jigsaw was the same motor that ran the washing machine and Monday was laundry day. With a family that included three sons and one daughter, laundry required a full day. Despite being able to work only 5 days a week, 70 hour work weeks were fairly typical.