This column was published in the mid-August 2005 Issue of The Business Journal.
A bunch of us were sitting around discussing world affairs, the UN, Congress, the Supreme Court, the president and the good old USA and coming to what we thought were simple and easy solutions to all of their problems when out of the blue someone shouted “What ever happened to General Fireproofing?”
The question caught me and the rest of us off guard because we were not discussing anything remotely connected to General Fireproofing. But it did change the direction of our conversation. In fact, none of us remembered too much about GF except that they made very stable, long-wearing heavy desks and chairs.
The comment started us all thinking and talking about companies that were, or still are, but with another name. The name Peerless Electric Company in Warren came up. We remembered that it had a fan and blower division and an electric motor division, and that the company was sold to The H.K. Porter Co. with headquarters in Pittsburgh. Other companies from the Warren-Niles area came to mind: Standard Transformer, Warren Tool, Beaver Pipe Tools, which some of us thought is now called Everett Industries. Someone mentioned Bostwick Steel Lath Co. in Niles.
Then the big one came up – Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. As a young college student, I worked as a driller and and an iron analyst in the lab at the Brier Hill plant. Then I transferred to the main office in the Stambaugh Building in downtown Youngstown. That’s where I met my wife, but that’s another story. Well, the name itself elicited comment after comment about Sheet & Tube. Some of the fellows had worked there and stayed until retirement. Others had moved on to other jobs.
A minute or so of quiet settled around the table as each of us ran our memories of Sheet & Tube through our minds. Then we hit our stride. Commercial Shearing we thought became Commercial Intertech, then was sold to Parker Hannifin. Other companies came to mind: Republic Rubber,Valley Mould and Iron, Metal Carbide Co., Standard Slag, Reznor Heaters, United Engineering. We paused for a minute to digest the list.
Then someone said, “How about Ajax Magnethermic?” Another said, “Yeah, and there was Aetna Standard Engineering in New Castle, and The Deming Co. in Salem.”
That produced another flood of companies remembered: Salem China Co. and Sterling China, which made beautiful institutional china for the classier upscale restaurants. Smaller, but still well-known companies came to mind: Columbiana Pump, Riise Engineering, which later became Gormac Custom Manufacturing.
The musings drifted off as we all pondered our own thoughts.
You’re right – we probably missed a few companies of the good old days. Yet, the good days may well be before us if we just pay attention to what’s happening around us. Best to dwell on the positive happenings. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow isn’t here yet. So, ponder the positives and negate the negatives.