Chapin, Davis & Co. Inc. -- a brokerage house founded by Bedford Chapin in 1952 when the Dow Jones Industrial average was threatening the 150 barrier -- has been purchased by a local investment group, the company announced yesterday.
The buyers are H. F. "Bert" Criste, chairman of Bank Maryland Corp., the parent of Towson-based Bank of Maryland; Walter L. McManus, treasurer of the bank holding company; and Dr. Chi Tsung Su, a prominent Baltimore plastic surgeon.
The day-to-day operation of the company -- one of the first Baltimore-area brokerages to locate away from the Redwood Street financial district -- will be handled by David R. Clogg, Chapin's president and chief operating officer.
The purchase price was not disclosed, but Mr. Clogg said that "it was book [value], plus a small premium." The company will continue to operate as Chapin, Davis and is expected to remain at its Cross Keys location.
Mr. Chapin, who will turn 67 next month, said that he "had built something valuable enough to keep going" and "it was time to hand it off to someone younger."
This doesn't mean that Mr. Chapin and his large white poodle, Whitman, who was resting yesterday afternoon on the front lobby carpeting, will disappear from the business.
Mr. Chapin said that he and H. Chace Davis Jr., the other principal of the firm, "will stay on to serve our clientele. It will be a semiretirement. I'll still be here five days a week working as a broker. I love it. It's not like going to work, as long as I've got Whitman with me."
Mr. Clogg said the new owners would have more than a passive interest in the company. "They will be doing things to increase the clientele base and to get more investors. They want to see the company grow," he said.
The company has 32 employees, and all but the receptionist are registered to sell stock or insurance. Mr. Clogg said the company has very few institutional accounts. "Almost 100 percent of them are individual accounts," he said.
The company tried its hand at underwriting a few years back, but Mr. Chapin readily admits: "We did poorly." He said two of the three companies it helped bring public eventually went out of business. The third, Chesapeake Biological Laboratories Inc., saw it stock drop to $1 a share after coming out at $3.
"That was tough on the company. We decided that was not for us," he said.