Safety & Security Contractor

Helping Build a Safer World


Our Growing Portfolio Of Companies

Century Companies

Century Companies is a family owned and family focused portfolio of companies. It is a fourth generation business, started by Henry Bryant in 1917. Where most companies see humans as resources. Century sees humans as the point. When companies see profits as the only goal that is when quality erodes for the employee, the customer, and the community. At Century, profits are the by-product of doing what’s right for people: employees, customers, vendors, and community.

Being a family business is our competitive advantage. It allows for the flexibility to invest in people and invest with a 50 year time horizon. This longer term focus allows for a much healthier employee experience and ultimately a better customer experience.

There is no mandate or quarterly push. People are like oak trees. We build the business with our people. It takes time. We grow with our people.
Henry Bryant, founder

Learn more about employment opportunities and the leadership principles of Century

Learn more about how you could partner your business with Century Companies, Inc

Century Companies Philosophy

Century Companies History

With the help of family and friends, Henry Bryant started Henry Bryant and Co in the scrap and salvage business, dealing in wood, coal, copper, aluminum, and steel.
Seeing a war on the horizon when others did not, Henry Bryant took a huge risk in offering to buy his customers scrap metal. This move would end up making Bryant a profit of One Hundred Thousand Dollars, a colossal sum for the day.
Henry Bryant was commissioned as a captain in the Ordinance Division of the US Army. Subsequently, he was sent with the Expeditionary Forces, to fight for freedom in France.
Before leaving for WWI, Henry Bryant incorporated the business to reduce his liability while overseas.
Henry Bryant returned from the war and was greeted by a company board of directors, ready to dissolve Henry Bryant and Company, due to sagging profits in his absence and a bleak post-war forecast for scrap metal. Fortunately, Henry Bryant scrapped the Board's resolution and forged ahead.
Henry Bryant was experimenting with various products including wire mesh factory partitions and woven wire window guards. He decided to change his company name to Waukesha Steel Products.
The 1920's would be a time of growth, peace, and prosperity for Henry Bryant and Co., which in 1921 would rename itself the Waukesha Steel Products Company.
A final name change of Henry Bryant's vision to the company we know today - Century Fence Company.
Century Fence was considered an up and coming fencing business within Southeastern Wisconsin. Century Fence continued to grow steadily by serving an increasing number of customers each year throughout this decade.
The stock market crashed, and the Great Depression set in, as business activity grounded to a halt, in Wisconsin and throughout the world. Henry took out a mortgage on his house, and funneled the money back into his business all to keep the company afloat.
Henry developed a relationship in the engineering department of Wisconsin Electric Power Company (now, WE Energies). Overtime, they were in need of quality fencing in order to protect people from the risks of electrocution. This connection provided most of the jobs that would keep Century Fence alive through these lean years. Soon after, war clouds would once again gather over Europe, as well as Asia this time, presenting a whole new set of challenges.
Just as the U.S. economy was bouncing back, came Pearl Harbor on December 7th. Once again, America found itself engulfed in a world war.
With an extreme shortage of steel products, Henry Bryant would spend much of the war years cruising industrial zones throughout Wisconsin, offering to buy old, ragged, even damaged fencing from anyone willing to sell. The fences would then be reinstalled for customers desperate for protection from theft and vandalism.
Henry Bryant had served America in WWI, survived the Great Depression, and scrapped by during the steel shortage of WWII. He was entering his middle sixties while Century Fence had reached a plateau in its current state.
Henry Bryant made a bold decision to hire a dynamic salesman, Blase Zuelke, to further develop the company and sell its products & services. Henry's bold decision paid off, and business increased significantly.
Henry Bryant offered another young talent, Edwin Lyle, a similar position in the company as it was really starting to expand.
Century ventured outside Wisconsin for its first project in the Minnesota market. The company had won the contract to build the fencing at the new Wold-Chamberlain International Airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota, taking the local companies there by surprise.
Soon a new regional office of Century Fence would be opened in St. Paul, renting space inside a plumber's office after the project success in Minnesota.
Tony Bryant, Henry's youngest son, would be invited to join the growing company.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower passed through Congress the establishment of the nation's Interstate Highway Program, opening up a wide array of opportunities for Century Fence in the areas of woven wire, right-of-way fencing, steel beam guard rails, overhead signing projects and a host of other ventures.
Henry Bryant, now 76, decided to promote Edwin Lyle as President of Century Fence, while he himself would stay on as Chairman. At the same meeting of the Board of Directors, Century Fence adopted its first company profit-sharing plan, authored by Tony Bryant as his M.B.A. graduation thesis at Northwestern.
The company approved a purchase of 1½ acres on County Road C in Roseville for $4,000 and building an office, shop and warehouse for $21,000. Century strategically planted its roots to service the Minnesota marketplace.
Tony Bryant, having spent the last four years working for the First National Bank of Chicago, was able to increase the amount of working capital Century Fence so desperately required. This capital enabled the company to meet the ever-growing amount of opportunities that presented themselves to the company, from fencing for highways to missile silos.
Anthony W. Bryant was installed as the President of Century Fence.
The company acquired 6 acres of land in Waukesha County, erecting a new office facility and shop near Silvernail Road.
On January 31, 1969, Henry was pushing 88 years of age, and he concluded that the company was in capable hands so he could retire. At the annual meeting of the company on April 29, 1969, a resolution from the Board of Directors was passed accepting his resignation as chairman and wishing him a long and happy retirement.
The employees of Century Fence traveled around the country in the early 1970's doing striping jobs. They demonstrated how durable epoxy road marking material was a vast improvement over regular paint, from sun-belt Texas to the northern frost-belt states!
In Forest Lake, MN a 6-acre facility was acquired and the branch was transitioned over to Forest Lake by the middle of the following year.
Tenke again reported that a company in St. Paul, the H.B. Fuller Company, had created a 2-part epoxy striping material. The company was interested in partnering with Century Fence to figure out how to apply it to road surfaces. They were aware of Century’s expertise in the highway marking business and D.O.T.’s were willing to experiment with more durable striping materials.
Within the 1970’s, sales tripled for Century Fence! At the same time, Tony Bryant was concerned about the use of tobacco that many employees were engaged in. This would have an adverse cost effect on the company’s health plan. In response, he created challenges for the employees to ultimately stop them from using tobacco. Starting in 1979, restrictions were placed on smoking within company premises.
The early 1980’s was a low point in the company's history. President Bryant seized this difficult time, however, as an opportunity, recognizing that the company was seriously lagging in the development of its computer systems, hampering its cost controls and inventory tracking skills. He engaged the services of a computer consultant, accomplishing an in-depth analysis of the company's needs in the areas of technology and automation.
A young accountant, Larry Leppla, was brought on to maximize the company's computer potential. Over time as the economy started to improve, Century’s activity increased.
Century Fence's profits had exceeded their 1979 level, and the company was once again on top.
Century Fence was recognized for multiple awards including the Eagle Award from Waukesha Kiwanis club and the Small Business Person of the Year Award. In the same year, Century Fence was also preparing for the commencement of its 75th year of incorporation.
While Tony Bryant became Chairman of the Board, Bill Hoye ran the company for the next three years. Frank Both, who had become general manager of the highway division tasked Keith Brahmer, the manager of the Knapp branch to start refitting and customizing Century trucks.
While Tony Bryant became Chairman of the Board, Bill Hoye ran the company for the next three years. Frank Both, who had become general manager of the highway division tasked Keith Brahmer, the manager of the Knapp branch to start refitting and customizing Century trucks.
Bill Hoye's Executive VP, Don Lucas, took over for him and ran Century Fence for the next five years.
John Connell, who was Executive Vice President to Don Lucas just as Don Lucas had been Executive VP to Bill Hoye, became the company's new President. He learned the business truly from the ground up, starting as a shipping clerk in the shop to running the multi-state enterprise. In late 2001, the events of September 11th, 2001 was to have a profound impact on the fence industry. With security becoming a huge concern all over the country, the number of customers for Century Fence continued to increase with the times of growing uncertainty, and Century Fence was there to respond to the challenge.
President John Connell was instrumental in Century Fence acquiring the Fortress Fence company out of Green Bay, owned by Mike Gryzbowski and Keith Kobus, which continued the growth of the company throughout the region. Fortress Fence became a division of Century Fence.
Having outgrown its existing plant near Crites Field in Pewaukee, a search for a larger piece of property was begun, the result being the acquisition of the perfect new site for Century Fence in the Village of Pewaukee that same year. For the next five years, this new property was to be fully developed in 2010.
Fortress Fence, as a division of Century Fence, became the authorized fence contractor for Atomic Energy Plants in NE Wisconsin in 2010, a significant feather in Century Fence’s cap as it is a tremendous sign to be entrusted to do this work.
Fortress Fence became the preferred fence contractor for the Green Bay Packers organization for their subsequent work at Lambeau Field.
In 2015, Century Fence's logo became trademarked.
Century Fence was nominated by Waukesha Business Alliance as one of the top 10 businesses of the year in Waukesha, WI. Additionally, Century Fence successfully implemented a state of the art ERP system to prepare for the next decade of growth.
Century Fence celebrates its 100-Year Anniversary in business! Today, Henry Bryant's American dream became a reality through hard work and tremendous teamwork between employees and subcontractors. This story is possible because of our customers trust in us on their projects throughout the midwest. We look forward to serving you in the next 100 years!
Century Fence acquired Guide Lines Pavement Marking, LLC.
New La Crosse, WI branch opens in Spring of 2021.
Previous slide
Next slide

Learn more about how you could partner your business with Century Companies, Inc