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FES History

Charles W. FollettAt Follett Educational Services (FES), we're proud to talk about our history because it speaks to our achievements, earned over 130+ years of service to the education community.

The Follett Corporation began in 1873 as a tiny bookstore in Wheaton, Illinois, home of C.M. Barnes. Barnes soon moved to Chicago, which was rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Initially, the store sold to students. Later, it began to sell to other stores as well. As the business grew, additional employees were hired, one of which was Charles W. Follett. Follett started with Barnes as a stock clerk. When Barnes later moved to New York to launch another company with a Mr. Noble, Follett bought his shares and began taking an active management role. Barnes retired and Follett family members eventually bought the entire company.

C.W. Follett's sonsIn the 1920's, C.W. Follett brought his four sons into the business. Eager for challenges, they pushed into new fields, and the wholesaling of elementary and high school textbooks continued to grow. During World War II, they expanded into children's book publishing to meet a short-term demand caused by the shortage of metal toys.

In 1952, a new generation of Folletts took over leadership of the company, bringing new energy and vision to the company. In 1957, new acquisitions, internal growth, and a continued focus on customer service, moved the management team to divide the company into multiple operating companies. Today, each company has become the leader in its field, maintaining this long-standing commitment to education, the family and the community.

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