Reynolds and Reynolds: A revolution in record keeping

Dayton company founded in 1866.


Reynolds and Reynolds was founded in Dayton in 1866 to mass produce business forms.

Spurred by Dayton's car culture, Reynolds and Reynolds moved to specializing in dealership forms

Reynolds and Reynolds, a company that made its mark producing standardized business forms, was founded in Dayton just over 150 years ago.

In 1866 Lucius D. Reynolds, a former Bellefontaine newspaper publisher, made his way to Dayton with $500 tucked in his pocket.

» PHOTOS: Reynolds and Reynolds, the early years

He and his brother-in-law, James R. Gardner, moved into a vacant firehouse located behind the Turner Opera House (now the Victoria Theatre) and opened a print shop.

The following year, Gardner left the business and Ira Reynolds, Lucius’ father, joined him and the company became known as Reynolds and Reynolds.


» Bygone gifts: What Dayton wanted for Christmas a century ago

» Dayton Arcade: Photographs reveal landmark in time

» A century of Dayton landmarks

The company, which began with six shop workers and a traveling salesman, was among the early printers that specialized in standardized business forms and revolutionized how records were kept.

In 1869 Ira Reynolds invented and patented a removable and reusable hard cover for duplicating sales books that utilized an insertable carbon leaf, according to the company history. That invention made it faster and easier to create multiple copies of the same information.

“My improvements relate more especially to books suitable for salesmen and book-keepers and are designed not only to facilitate and economize their labors, but also to serve as a check upon both, and a protection of their employer and his customers,” wrote Reynolds in his Dec. 21, 1869 patent application.

Reynolds received four patents by 1874 for his forms related inventions.

Over the years the company expanded and moved to accommodate growth. In 1898 it moved to Washington and Germantown streets, where it remained for more than 100 years.

» NEWS IN YOUR INBOX: Sign up for our email newsletters on topics that interest you

A boon in the region’s rich car culture helped spark further company growth.

Reynolds was already producing business forms for automotive dealerships, tailoring them to the way dealers handled accounting and inventory, when a 1927 contract for the Chevrolet division of General Motors marked a weighty achievement for the company.

It was now supplying business forms on a national level and went on to start an automotive forms division. That success led to becoming a major supplier of forms - and later computer systems - to the U.S. automobile retail market.

During World War II the War Manpower Commission, a U.S. government agency that managed the efficient use of labor, resolved the company had an important role to play.

Reynolds and Reynolds printed ration books and became the lead printer of technical handbooks for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Forms began to morph into computer software for automotive retailers in the 1960s, and the company was among the first to provide computer services to its customers.

Today, the company that began with fewer than 10 employees in downtown Dayton has more than 4,300 employees worldwide. More than 1,300 are employed in Dayton.

» EXCLUSIVE CONTENT: Download our apps for news how you want it

“We would hope a company with this type of heritage would be another point of pride for the greater Dayton community,” said Tom Schwartz, director of corporate communications for the company.

“In many ways, Reynolds is a product of the rich heritage of innovation that formed the Dayton region. The company continues to reflect that history of innovation and the knowledge and skills of the people who live and work here.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Dog warden testifies: ‘Worst emaciated dog that was still alive’
Dog warden testifies: ‘Worst emaciated dog that was still alive’

A Hamilton man charged with animal cruelty had his day in court, stating fleas and separation anxiety may have led to significant weight loss for his dogs, but not a lack of nutrition. Brian Trauthwein, 42, of Franklin St., was issued misdemeanor citations on March 23, a day after he called 911 asking for a dog warden to come pick up “stray dogs&rdquo...
Showers, storms could bring heavy downpours & gusty winds
Showers, storms could bring heavy downpours & gusty winds

Few showers and storms this morning More showers and storms this afternoon/evening Strong storms possible Friday TODAY: More showers and storms are likely at times today. There will be breaks for some dry time, but periodically through the day we will have showers and storms move through, including the evening commute home.  &ldquo...
Woman crashes after driving wrong-way onto I-675 ramp in Miami Twp. 
Woman crashes after driving wrong-way onto I-675 ramp in Miami Twp. 

A woman crashed her vehicle after entering an I-675 on ramp going the wrong direction early Thursday morning. Officials responded to the area of southbound I-75 at the northbound 675 on ramp in Miami Twp. around 12:25 a.m. on reports of a crash, initial reports indicate. Authorities say the area is a construction zone with only one lane, which could...
1 dead, 1 suffers life-threatening injuries after shooting in Dayton 
1 dead, 1 suffers life-threatening injuries after shooting in Dayton 

One person has died and another is at an area hospital with life-threatening injuries after a shooting on Norman Avenue early Thursday morning. Officials say the two victims, only described as a male and female in their 40s, were found with gunshot wounds in the 30 block of Norman Avenue around 1:15 a.m. The female victim was pronounced dead on scene...
Semi drivers getting stuck at U.S. 127 road closure in Preble County
Semi drivers getting stuck at U.S. 127 road closure in Preble County

People living near a road construction project along U.S. 127 say drivers are ignoring road closed signs. There are dozens of signs along U.S. 127, including one in Eaton that gives a 4-mile warning of the road closure ahead. Shelly Rowland’s house is just behind some railroad tracks, where her family shares a quiet street with a half dozen other...
More Stories