When Robert Fletcher Knox co-founded what would eventually be called R.F. Knox Co. in 1914, he probably never imagined it would be responsible for some of the largest projects in the sprawling Atlanta region.
From the state’s Capitol to the Georgia World Congress Center and numerous medical facilities, ductwork made and installed by many of Knox Co.’s 250 workers is common throughout the city and its suburbs.
In its 100th year, the company that began as Knox and Maier Co. on Atlanta’s Marietta Street now completes up to 2,500 projects annually and operates from an eight-acre campus in Smyrna, Ga.
“It’s rare for any business to survive a century’s worth of economic volatility and technological change, but there’s a simple reason we have been able to stay in business for this long,” said company President Jack A. Knox. “Our dedicated, skilled and hardworking employees made it possible. These are people who take just as much pride in their work today as their predecessors did back in 1914.”
Besides the commercial ductwork fabrication and installation services that form the backbone of Knox’s work, it also specializes in custom architectural projects: metal signs, handrails, weathervanes and items made with brass, bronze and mirror-finish stainless steel.
“These types of projects are very much in keeping with our roots,” Knox said. “When my great-grandfather, Robert Fletcher Knox, started the company back in 1914, he specialized in custom jobs like these. He would make, install and repair grate fronts, stovepipe, fascia, slate roofing and boiler breeching stacks, in particular. W.H. Carrier had only just patented his design for the air conditioner, so it would take quite a few years before HVAC would become a major part of our business.”
Perhaps the company’s most visible architectural project is the state’s 200-foot-tall gold-topped Capitol dome, for which Knox made and installed all the metal, as well as steel windowsills, fascia and detailing. The dome’s gold plating sits atop metal installed by Knox as part of a 1950s-era restoration project.
“That was a proud milestone for our company,” Fred Knox said.
A number of Knox employees have their own company milestones, officials said. The average employee has 18 years of service and 25-year careers are not uncommon.
“We have even had several retire after 50 years of service,” Knox said. “These days, turnover is commonplace at many companies, but our employees live and breathe R.F. Knox. They are our biggest asset, and this centennial is a testimony to their dedication.”