Soon after undertaking professional events along with Sousa’s great band, Frank Holton opened up a small store in The city of chicago in 1896, offering second hand musical instruments and his magic formula of Electric Oil trombone slide oil. For the initial couple of years, business was limited and Holton would spend nights plus saturdays and sundays performing in order to pull an income to back up his small business. By 1898, business had maintained itself to the stage Holton could hire a musical instrument (blank) to start producing what he presented as the “Holton Special” trombone. As business progressed, his “Holton Harmony Hints” catalog increased in proportions to incorporate trombones, cornets, valve trombones, as well as mellophones by 1904.
Business carried on growing and Holton’s musical instruments became the personal choice of leading professionals such as Vincent Bach, first trumpet for the Boston Symphony in 1914 (he soon started building his very own musical instruments). In 1917, Holton authorized a binding agreement together with the city of Elkhorn, Wisconsin to create a manufacturing plant. In the actual agreement, a preventative measure was made that in case Holton paid out $500,000 in salary over seven years to back up the community workforce, he would be given the title to the property and building. In 1920, Holton achieved this requirement.
In June 1919, in order to motivate a greater labor force to relocate from Chicago, IL to Elkhorn, Holton purchased seventeen acres and contracted 27 homes built to provide to his staff members. Production of top range professional musical instruments grew even larger. In 1929, Holton launched an entire collection of school grade musical instruments under the Holton Collegiate brand.
In 1939, Frank Holton sold his business to Fred Kull, a company employee. In 1942, Frank Holton died. Throughout the Second World War as most producers did, the Holton Company switched to producing elements for the army. As the war finished, the Holton Company found steady growth. In 1964, after demands to supply a complete selection of woodwind musical instruments, the Holton Company sold to G Leblanc Corporation.
In the course of Leblanc’s ownership, Holton would escalate to be a leader in low brass production. The support of renowned artists including Philip Farkas and Ethel Merker, Holton’s French horns became more popular then ever. Manufacturing of Holton instruments was kept in Elkhorn, Wisconsin right up until 2008 when it was transferred to Eastlake, Ohio.