For the earliest documented history of the company we must first look at an obituary from the New York Times on April 29, 1975 which follows on the next three paragraphs;
Meyer J. Butensky, chairman of Branch Industries Inc, a major carrier and terminal operator here, died yesterday in Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami, where he had been living. He was 88 years old and had been active in the business until recently.
At the age of 20, Mr. Butensky was able to buy an express delivery route serving clothing manufacturers on the Lower East Side. By 1914 he had expanded to four employees and two wagons and bought his first truck.
His company continued to specialize in serving the clothing industry. During the Depression, he and a brother bought the Pennsylvania based Branch Motor Express Company and merged it into their own organization.
The Pennsylvania based company got its start in as Branch Storage Company. In the 1920’s Eugene Hendricks was the proprietor of the firm, which was located at the corner of 3rd and Walnut Streets in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. Perkasie was about 20 miles southeast of Allentown and 35 miles north of Philadelphia. Branch Storage started out as an automobile dealership and a repair garage. Hudson and Essex motor cars were sold there. However, by October 1923 the garage and dealership was sold and moved elsewhere and Branch Storage went into the freight business. It did not take long for the company to make its mark in moving freight. Proof of this came in a newspaper article from The Central News of Perkasie on July 16, 1924, in which was quoted “Henry Vetter is an employee of Branch Storage Co., which operates a truck freight service between Perkasie and New York City.” With this we know that as early as 1924 Branch was already a small interstate trucking company, operating between Pennsylvania and New York!
The area of southeast Pennsylvania had numerous industrial factories catering to the clothing manufacturers of New York City. Fabric would be transported from New York to the plants in Pennsylvania where cutting and sewing operations were done and then the finished product wears taken back to New York City for further assembly into finished clothing and sold. It was noted in a newspaper article during that time period that Branch moved the bulk of fabric and cloth between the two areas.
In December 1924 the company applied for an intrastate certificate of authority with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to operate as a motor freight common carrier on the following routes:
- Between Perkasie and Morrisville via Sellersville and Philadelphia
- between Perkasie and New Hope via Doylestown
- between Perkasie and Easton via Quakertown, Allentown, Bethlehem, Wind Gap and Bangor, Pa
In 1928 Meyer J. Butensky and a number of associates bought Branch Storage Company with 20 trucks in the fleet.
In 1932 Branch sought additional intrastate authority in Pennsylvania over the following routes:
- between Pottsville and Perkasie via Pennsburh
- between Allentown and Coatesville via Phoenixville
- between Bangor and Philadelphia via Perkasie
- between Perkasie and Morrisville video a New Hope
Also in 1932 a depot was established in Bangor, PA and a year later Eugene Hendricks moved to Allentown to establish a terminal there for Branch.
‘Mayer Burnosky had been President of the firm since 1931. In 1934 Gerald Kachel was hired in Reading , Pa as a driver and a year later another driver, Louis Chester Czechowski was hired in Reading. Kachel eventually became a Regional Manager for the Reading operation and in December 1951 was promoted to Manager of Operations for the entire Branch system. Czechowski rose through the ranks and also in December 1951 was promoted from Assistant Reading Terminal Manager to the regional manager that Kachel had held until his promotion.By 1935 Branch Storage had locations in Philadelphia, Pa; Alentown, Pa; Baltimore, Md; Washington, DC; Richmond, Va and a New York City location at 126 West 18th Street.
On February 12, 1945 the ICC granted an amended certificate to transport general commodities over specified routes between named points in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and the Distruct of Columbia. Branch had also filed an application with the ICC to operate as a contract carrier, but in May 1941 that application was denied as operations were found to be that of a common carrier.
From a series of reports entitled “Statistics Of Class 1 Motor Carriers” published by the Interstate Commerce Commission the following table of information was gleaned about Branch:
Number of Power Units (trucks and tractors)
Number of Employees
Bloggers notes about the above tables- Miles of routes remained the same at 1,670 in all of the above years. In 1945 each power unit in the fleet traveled 40,766 miles in intercity service each day for an average of 156 daily miles. The size of the fleet more than doubled in 13 years and in 1953 each power unit traveled 43,661 miles in intercity services or 167 daily miles. The company grew in fleet size, revenues grew more than 8 times from 1940 and the number of employees more than doubled. The company grew by building its business without acquisitions or expanding beyond their territory.