Benedict Charles Lawson, circa 1920
In 1919, with a buckboard and horse, Charlie Lawson started BC Lawson Drayage, Inc. in San Francisco, CA. The early days of Lawson Drayage consisted of bringing fuel to the oil lamps up and down Market Street, delivering coal from the Lazzari coal yard in South San Francisco to homes in the mission district and delivering feed to the San Francisco Zoo. During this time, the business was run out of a warehouse at 879 Florida Street where Charlie managed it from his residence above.
While many of his colleagues were deployed during the World Wars, Charlie’s physical restrictions kept him from serving his country which allowed him to focus his efforts on growing the business. San Francisco was beginning to take shape as an economic hub for the west coast creating opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of a developing economy. Most of the growth was funneled through the ports and that’s where Charlie realized there was a need to deliver goods to the rest of the city. Lawson trucks began to line the Embarcadero waiting for the next shipment of goods to arrive, which were then to be delivered throughout San Francisco and the surrounding cities. While this was a good business for the time being, the Company was looking to shift its focus from “common freight” to moving machinery.
Cable car relocation, 1978
In the mid 1950’s, Charlie’s son Al Lawson took over Lawson Drayage and moved operations to a new warehouse on 22nd street in the Potrero Hill district of San Francisco. Al was able to build the business thanks to the City’s prospering hotel industry by moving and relocating much of the industrial laundry equipment involved with the hotels. In the early 1960’s, Lawson Drayage introduced themselves to the then booming printing industry moving single machines to entire printing facilities. Lawson was also fortunate enough to be involved with the boom of the food processing industry that saw its height in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. The Company was involved in the movement of every type of processing equipment that produced bread, cheese, chocolate and sausage.
George, Rob & Al Lawson, 1986
Two weeks prior to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Company relocated to its current four-acre headquarters in Hayward, CA. In the early 1990’s, Al’s sons George and Rob came into managerial roles and started to build a presence within the machine tool industry, delivering, moving and relocating equipment for all the major machine tool line representatives and machine shop owners in the Bay Area, which the Company still does today. The Company experienced organic growth in the late 1990’s as it opened a satellite office in Elk Grove, CA and began to service the Sacramento Valley area.
Hybrid Peterbilt Tractor, 2010
In the early 2000’s, there was a large influx of chip makers making their way into the Silicon Valley area providing Lawson with an opportunity to service a new industry. With very fragile and sensitive equipment, the clean room moving aspect of the Company was developed. Just as the chip industry was introduced in the early 2000’s, the solar industry made a name for itself in the later half of the decade. Lawson was there once again to provide services to these opportunistic companies. Around this same time, Lawson began to service the Aerospace and Defense industry by moving high security level machinery and equipment.
Today, the Company still prides itself as the industry leader in machinery moving as it continues to adapt to the needs of budding industries and fully serve its existing customers as well as evolve with the ever changing green initiatives. With Patrick Lawson, son of George joining in the late 2000’s, he becomes the fourth generation of Lawson “riggers” to carry on the family tradition of excellence in “moving, rigging and transportation for any industry”.