Claridge Products and Equipment was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois in 1947. The founder, E.A. Clavey, named the company Claridge from the first part of the Clavey name combined with Ridge, from Park Ridge, Illinois, where the family lived at the time.
In 1953, a manufacturing plant was opened in Forsyth, Missouri, while the sales office remained in Chicago. The first manufacturing facility was a 2,000 square foot converted cheese factory, later expanded to 3500 square feet.
In 1955, with the business flourishing, it was moved to Harrison, Arkansas, due to proximity to the railroad and the quality of the labor market. Eight employees made up the original Harrison workforce in one 20,000 square foot building. In 1956, the sales office was moved from Chicago to Harrison as well.
The original Claridge chalkboards were made from slate, but transitioned to Duracite, a chalkboard surface painted and baked into hardboard. In the late 1950s, porcelain enamel steel chalkboards were developed and in 1962, with help from DuPont, Claridge developed a technique called Vitracite, a process that used aluminized steel with a fired-on opaque glassy coating. In 1962, Claridge Extrusion was opened to provide a reliable source of extruded aluminum for trim and other chalkboard elements. Ten years later, the wood shop was created.
Always an industry leader, Claridge introduced and produced the first markerboards, called the LCS or Liquid Chalk System, to the United States at the AASA show in New Jersey in 1973. The markerboard quickly replaced the chalkboard and the resulting demand led to another expansion of the Claridge facility.
Throughout the years Claridge has continued its leadership position in new product development offering all types of chalkboards and markerboards, including glass which was introduced in 2008, and expanding its core to include mobiles, horizontal and vertical sliding units, enclosed bulletin board cabinets, trophy cases, and so much more. More than 500 employees make up the Claridge team, including several with more than 45 years of service.
In January 2021, Skylark Private Equity Partners purchased Claridge from the Clavey family and made significant investments in the business, including two new manufacturing facilities in Harrison and in Corona and expanded the leadership team to guide the business into the future.
In addition to the primary manufacturing facilities in Harrison, Corona and Wetumpka, Claridge is now the only writing surface manufacturer with a network of distribution centers throughout the United States. In 2022, Claridge Products introduced a new brand, Calyx by Claridge, to work alongside its thriving construction products division. Calyx by Claridge will focus on commercial interiors and furniture.