EAST HAMPTON, Conn. (WTNH)–Each machine builds onto the harmony of Bevin Brothers Manufacturing. It’s been playing in East Hampton for nearly 100 years.
Bevin is the last surviving bell maker in the country. Started by four brothers in 1932, it has always been family-owned and operated. But it hasn’t been easy.
In May of 2012, silence fell on the factory when flames tore through. Longtime employees were worried.
“It’s called Belltown, how do you have a bell town without a bell factory?” said Robert Read.
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With the help of Belltown neighbors and the determination of owner Matthew Bevin, they were back open within weeks.
“He is magic man,” said Muradif Abidovic, who works at the factory. “He came back very fast.”
“Immediately after our fire, we wanted to get right back to business and start taking care of the employees, and being part of this town is a big part of that,” said Alicia Blevin.
Appropriately, the first bell back on the production line was the Salvation Army bell.
“I think people are always surprised to hear the number of time they’ve come across Bevin bells in their life,” said Belvin.
They make about 50 different types of bells at the factory, including sleigh bells.
“This time of year we’re sending out sleigh bells by the truckload,” Alicia Belvin said.
25 employees churn out about 500,000 different bells every year. All of their bells start as a long piece of steel, it goes through the machine and presses out the bell, like a stamp.
The cow bell, which is used as part of a football tradition at Mississippi State University, is their biggest seller.
“We’re doing a huge order for Mississippi State right now,” Belvin said.
So are they big Mississippi State fans?
“We are. When they do well, we do well.”
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They used to make boxing ring bells, which were used at Muhammad Ali’s fights, and the New York Stock Exchange used one of their bells for decades, before they went electronic.
“For me it’s just really, truly, a dream to be able to be part of it to be able to grow and build the business,” Belvin said.
“There’s nothing like the sweet sound of a Bevin Bell chiming around the holidays, it gets you right into the spirit,” said Read.