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Crown Steel Products, Orville Metal Specialty, DEK Mfg., Gemini Mfg. Co., American Commercial Vehicles (ACV), CrownFab, Crown North America
Crown Steel Products, 1940-1947; Riceland, Ohio; 1947-1967; Crown Steel Products div. Allen Electric Co.; 1967-1977; Gemini Manufacturing Co. div of White Motor Corp., 1977-1981; Gemini Manufacturing div. of Volvo White Truck Corp., 1981-1988; Gemini Manufacturing div. of Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corp., 1988-1994; American Commercial Vehicles (ACV) div. of EWI, Inc., 1994-2001; Orrville, Ohio.  Orville Metal Specialty Co., 1947-1990; DEK Mfg., 1953-1958; DEK Mfg. div. of Crown Steel Products, 1958-1969; Crown Fiber Glass div. of Crown Steel Products Inc., 1969-1977; Orville Metal Specialty Co. div. of Crown Steel Products Inc., 1954-1977; Truck Specialties Inc.  div. of Crown Steel Products, 1971-1977; Warren, Michigan; Crown Steel Products Inc., 1964-1990; Vermillion, Ohio; CrownFab of Canada, Ltd., 1968-1990; Clarkson, Ontario; Crown North America div. of Leggett & Platt, 1990-2011; St Thomas, Ontario, Canada; 1990-present; Oakville, Ontario, Canada; Apple Creek, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois.
Associated Firms
Orville Body Co., Orville Products, Inc.

Between 1928 and 2001 the town of Orrville, Ohio, was home to two related firms that supplied day cabs, sleeper cabs and quad cabs to many of the nation’s truck manufacturers. Known clients and specific models include: Mack B, F, H, MB and MC, RW, and W models; White WC, 3000,4000, 5000 and 5400 models; Autocar; Western Star; Diamond-T, REO, Brockway, International, Studebaker, Ford, GMC and Volvo. Both firms manufactured enclosed operator cabs for regional manufacturers of farm and construction equipment and also offered utility boxes and other types of truck equipment and accessories.

The first, Orville Body Co. is covered on another page. This writeup deals with the second firm, Crown Steel Products, which was founded in 1940 by Julius Fejes (b. February 14, 1910 - d. March 24, 2001) to supply pressed steel parts and subassemblies to the Orrville Body Co. In 1947 a similarly-named Crown subsidiary called the Orville Metal Specialty Co., commmenced production of quad cabs for Ford and International. Crown did so much business with the Blue Oval that they eventually established a satellite plant adjacent to Ford's Lorrain, Ohio assembly plant. Crown also upfitted Ford Econolines for tradesmen and constructed compartmentalized service bodies on Econoline cab and chassis.

Although Crown's former plants in Orrville are gone, one division remains in business today. Located in Apple Valley, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois, the Crown North America division of Leggett & Platt upfits police vehicles for the Ford Motor Co., Dodge (Fiat Chrysler), and Chevrolet div. of General Motors.

Coincidentally Ohio was the home of most of their early competitors, which included the Highland Body Co., Cincinnati (pre-war White sleepers); Gerstenslager Body Co., Wooster (multi-makes); Royal Body Co., Akron (pre & post-war White sleepers); Kidron Body Co., Kidron, Ohio (multi-makes); and Montpelier Body Co., Montpelier (pre-and post-war Ford sleepers). Several non-Ohio based firms engaged in similar work included the Stoughton Cab & Body Co., Stoughton, Wisconsin (post-war Ford); York-Hoover Body Co., York, Pennsylvania (pre-war multi-makes); Proctor-Keefe Body Co., Detroit, Micigan (pre- & post-war Ford); Automotive Industries Inc., Owendale, Michigan (post-war multi-makes); Winter Weiss Co., Denver, Colorado (pre-war Ford sleepers); and in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Wilson Motor Bodies and Smith Bros.

Julius Fejes was born on February 14, 1910 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio to two Czech imigrants, Andrew (a tailor, b. Nov. 22, 1880 - d. Feb. 9, 1962 - arrived at US in 1907) and Judith (Moncol) Fejes. Siblings included Andrew jr. (b.1909-d.1960); Kalman (b./d. 1916); and Louise (m. Roth, b.1917) Fejes. 

His father's WWI draft registration card lists his employer as Joseph & Feiss Co., his occupation 'tailor', his address as 12206 Buckeye Rd., Cleveland. The 1927 Cleveland directory lists the Fejes family at 3205 W. 94th St., Andrew Sr.' profession is listed as 'molder'; Andrew Jr.'s, 'butcher'. For reasons that remain unclear Julius accompanied his mother back to Europe in the late teens where he was apprenticed to a tinsmith. Well-versed in field of metal forming and blacksmithing, he becane a jporuneyman, practising his trade until the death of his mother. He returned to the US via the Port of New York on May 19,1933 onboard the SS Bremen, a steamship of theNorddeutscher Lloyd line that departed the port of Bremen, Germany on May 13th, 1933. Upon his arrival he returned to Cleveland and went to live with his maternal grandparents, initially taking a postion as an electrician in a southern Ohio coal mine. He eventually found work as a metal fabricator with Cleveland's American Coach and Body Co., his listing in the 1935 Cleveland directory lists his occupation as 'assembler'.

In 1937 he answered an advertisement looking for a 'hammer man' placed by the Orrville Body Co. and soon found himself working a power hammer in the firm's Wayne County factory. By 1940 Fejes had become so adept at putting together sleeper cabs, he convinced the body company's management to hire him as a subcontractor, establishing a small metal fabrication shop ina small garage owned by Thomas E. Rice in nearby Riceland, Ohio. Rudy Aloise and Eugene V. Hannie were hired on as assistants and in 1941 he formally organized the firm as the Crown Steel Products Co. In addition to the carefully formed sleeper cab sheet metal, Fejes began supplying additional stamped steel parts using a metal stamping press of his own design. 

The firm's first mention in the local press resulted from the actions of a careless truck driver, the August 9, 1943 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Two Cars Damaged by Coal Truck

“Dale Friedt was fined $10 and costs on a charge of reckless driving in C.W. Willaman's justice court Firdya following an accident on the Orrville Southern road that morning at 10 o’clock in which a coal truck that Freidt was driving struck two automobile, one the Buick sedan owned by Julian Fejes.

“Fejes, who was headed north, had stopped on the right side of the road, pulling off as far as he could, to wave down the driver of the Orrville Body Company truck which was en-route south to Fejes' Crown Steel Products Company in Riceland. The car and the truck had stopped at a corner in such a way that other traffic could pass between them, and the Body Company driver waved a car which was Fred E. Welty following him, driven by George C. Riggenbach of Sterling, to proceed. As Riggenbach started to pass the two vehicles, however, Friedt's truck, traveling north, hove in view. It was too late for Riggenbach to stop and Friedt couldn't stop, either, with the result that the car and the coal truck both tried to pass through one narrow opening in the road at the same time. Damages estimated at $350 were done to Fejes’ sedan while Rigenbach estimated the damages to his machine at $125.

“The accident happened near the Siegenthaler farm, where the road makes a slight dip. Friedt admitted the statement of a state highway patrolman that he had vision for 300 yards.”

On Dec. 4, 1943 Fejes married Bessie Rose Walentik (b. May 22, 1919 - d. Aug. 20, 1986) and the union was blessed with three children; Dean W. (b. Feb. 10, 1946); Alan G. (b. Mar. 14, 1947); and Judith Ann (b./d. 1950) Fejes.

By 1945 it was clear additional space would be required in order for Crown Steel to keep up with increasing post-war demand, so Fejes took in Myron Brenneman and Robert Seiwert as additional investors and leased the former Elm street plant of the Ohio Comb and Novelty Company in Orrville, establishing a second firm, the Orrville Metal Specialty Co., relocating their presses, cutters, brakes and power hammers from Riceland to the new facility.

In late 1946 two Orrville Body Co. directors, brothers Al and Wallace Vetter, joined Fejes in the formal incorporation of Crown Steel Products Co., which was capitalized at $70,000. A site for a new plant was located along North Main Street in Orville and construction commenced, theNovember 7, 1946 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Crown Building New Plant on North Main St.

“A new plant with 21,000 square feet, of floor space and a separate office building has been begun to house the operations of the Crown Steel Products Company of which Julius Fejes is president, on North Main street just outside the corporation limit, a spokesman for the company announced earlier this week. Foundation footers are already being poured.

“Crown Steel was organized about six years ago as a fabricator of pressed metal parts, principally of sections of truck cabs and bodies, and from the beginning it has occupied quarters in the building at Riceland owned by Thomas E. Rice. Equipment assembled and used there will be moved to the new plant when it is built, estimated now to be sometime this summer.

“The property being used lies on the east side of Route 94, a little distance north of where the back Smithville road enters North Main street. It is sufficient in size to permit setting the office building back 12 feet from the sidewalk line, a driveway circling the plant, and space for parking and future expansion at the rear.

“The main plant building is to be 105 feet wide and 200 feet long, running longwise of North Main street, and construction will be of concrete blocks, with steel super-structure for the roof and overhead crane walks. Only four posts will be used inside the building. In front of the plant and separated from it although connected by a covered passage, will be an office building 20 feet wide by 100 feet long. This will also be erected of concrete block, with rounded front corners at each end, face with brick, and with a four-foot wide panel of glass bricks across both ends and the front above doorway height. About 20 feet of the center portion of the front will be projected to add to the architectural attractiveness of the building and the roominess of the reception space.

“Plans for the two buildings, with ground elevations, indicate that it will be one of the most modern and attractive manufacturing plants in this vicinity. Manufacturing space will be just about doubled in the new plant over the old, while the office building will add 2,000 more square feet to the quarters that will be available.

“Mr. Fejes, a top-flight engineer as well as a practical worker in pressed meta l products, is particularly enthusiastic about the building since the virtually unobstructed interior of the main plant will permit of a smooth flow of work from stock-room to shipping dock.

“Crown Steel has operated steadily from the day it began work and gives employment to 15 full time shop employees, a figure that Mr. Fejes expects will be increased in the new plant. Al and Wallace Vetter, superintendent and sales manager, respectively, of the Orrville Body Company, are associated with Mr. Fejes in Crown Steel. Contractor John LeChot is the builder.”

In 1947 Fejes, in partnership with Eugene Hannie, Mr. Berkey and Attorney HArcold C. Kropf formally incorporated the Orville Metal Specialty Co., which began offering their own line of sleeper cabs - in direct competition with Orville Body Co. Business was brisk and the firm soon moved into a new facility located at S. Elm and Penn Ave., Orrville.

Tragedy struck Orrville's two competing truck cab manufacturers during the second half of 1947 when Al Vetter died from a heart attack, the August 11, 1947 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Al Vetter, Manager of Body Co., Dies of Heart Attack

“Death came almost instantly Saturday a few minutes afternoon to Alvin C. Vetter, 45, vice president and general manager of the Orrville Body Company, while he was sitting at the soda counter in the Seifrjed Drug Store waiting to drink a potion to relieve distress he attributed to indigestion.

“‘I’ve had a pain since last night,’ he told Frank Seifried. ‘ Maybe it’s gallstones.’

“Before Frank could pour the drink, Al slipped from the stool to the floor. Dr. E. E. Breyfogle said that Mr. Vetter had suffered a coronary blood clot and was dead before he reached his side a few minutes later. Injections of adrenalin and use of the city owned resuscitator were of no avail.

“A native of Cleveland, one of three sons of Mr. and Mrs. George Vetter, Al graduated from Lakewood High School and took an engineering course at night school. He was employed as an engineer by White Motor Company when he accepted a call to come here as plant manager of the Body Company in the early Fall of 1939 at the age of 37.

“An able designer, a serious minded executive and a methodical planner, he had enabled the Body Company to continue its growth as one of the community's valuable manufacturing enterprises.

“When the War virtually stopped the manufacture of truck bodies and cabs, Mr. Vetter was instrumental in negotiating a contract for fire boats, which enabled the company to keep busy.

“As a partner with Julius Fejes and brother, Wallace Vetter; in the Crown Steel Products Company, Mr. Vetter was also a key figure in another important manufacturing venture here. His death comes at a time when Crown Steel is in the midst of an expansion program, including the erection of a new plant on North Main street.

“It is safe to say that few men have ever moved into this community who has made more friends than Al Vetter. Although he worked hard at his business often 12 and 14 hours a day, he had a sincerity and integrity that drew men to him and made him widely known.

“His sudden passing left the community with a sense of great loss, which is the greatest memorial that a man can have.

“Besides his wife, Muriel, and little daughter, Joyce, 4, he is survived by his parents of Cleveland; his brother, Wallace, who was associated with him in the Body Company; and another brother, Elmer, of Cleveland.

“Mr. Vetter was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, of Cedar Lodge No.430, F.&A.M., the Stark Consistory and Al Koran Shrine of Cleveland, and of the Exchange Club.

“Funeral services will be held at  the residence, 116 East Oak street, Tuesday afternoon at 1 o'clock, with Rev. O. R. Gerber officiating. Burial will be in Lakewood Par k Cemetery, Cleveland, with Frey and Gresser in charge of arrangements. Friends may call at the home this evening.”

The March 7, 1949 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent announced that Crown Steel was building a new office building:

“Crown Steel Has Office Building In Progress

“Crown Steel Products, which occupied its fine new plant on North Main street last year, is now proceeding to complete the building program as drawn by the architects by erecting a 20 by 100 foot office building, which fronts 200 feet on North Main street and extends 100 feet in depth. Contractor John LeChot, who built the plant, is building the office structure.

“Laid up with buff exterior walls the office structure will be separated from the plant so as to give light on both sides, but will be connected to the plant with a corridor in the center. When completed, it will not only give the company greatly needed office space, but will enhance the appearance of the building layout.

“As a temporary expedient, the company has been using space in the main plant for its offices.”

Orrville Metal Specialty remained Fejes' dedicated truck cab manufacturing facility, freeing up Crown Products for more varied (and often lucrative) projects, the March 21, 1949 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reported that Crown Steel was building 300 aluminum ladders for Western Electric:

“Crown Steel Tests First of 300 Aluminum Ladders Being Built For Bell Linemen

“Sales Manager Bob Seiwert of Crown Steel Products Is shown here climbing the first of 300 all-aluminum ladders being built by his company for the Western Electric Company, for use by the Bell Telephone System. The ladder swings in a full circle when extended to its maximum of 21 feet, and It is hinged in the middle to swing: a lineman close to his ' work above roadside obstructions.

“Julius Fejes, president of the Crown Steel Products Company, climbed up in the air Thursday and gave a great shout. And when he climbed down, Bob Seiwert, sales manager for the company, did the same thing. They were celebrating, in an eminently fitting way, the completion of the first of 300 aluminum ladders which the company is making for the Western Electric Company for use on trucks operated by various operating companies of the Bell Telephone System.

“As everyone knows, linemen need ladders to get to their Work, and also climbing irons, but it has only been in recent years that they have been able to climb easily and quickly, without carrying ladders with them, from the bed' of a truck to the lines they take care of. That was after folding wooden ladders were developed for mounting on trucks.

“So far, few of them have ever climbed an aluminum ladder, but that will not be true long. For the new aluminum extension device which Crown Steel is making to put men in the air all over the country will be coming off the production lines from now on at a steady rate – for the moment at two a day and by April 15, at eight a day.

“Crown Steel, of course, isn't a ladder factory. It was set up in a small way several years ago in the buildings a t Riceland owned by the late Tom Rice to manufacture steel cab tops.

“Founder Fejes had been a ‘hammer man’ at the Orrville Body Company, and because he knew more about hammering out cab tops than anyone else, and could do it faster, he set up his own operation to feed the tops to the Body Company. Later the operations were extended to include other pressed steel products for truck cabs and bodies.

“Then, last year, the company, having grown prodigiously, built its new plant on North Main street, a 20,000 square foot steel and concrete block structure, and Mr. Seiwert joined the staff and started to look for more work.

“He called on Western Electric in New York, since the company furnishes thousands of trucks and buys the truck bodies for them for the Bell System. There was nothing doing, he was told, except that the company was taking bids within a week on ‘this thing.’ That was an aluminum extension ladder, to be mounted in a standard telephone maintenance-truck body.

“‘You don't make ladders, do you?’ the buyer Inquired. ‘I don't know,’ Mr. Seiwert replied. ‘Maybe we do. Let me have a set of blueprints and we'll find out.’ The result was that Crown Steel, after putting its head together with Will-Burt and the Orrville Bronze & Aluminum Foundry, assembled the necessary data within a week's time and put in a bid. And got the job. Undismayed by the word that drifted in from the trade that an Eastern outfit had spent $30,000 tooling up to make a similar ladder, the Crown Steel men took the purchase order and went to work. The result, as aforesaid, is that the first ladder was mounted on a standard Bell Telephone CLN-86 truck Thursday, and Mr. Fejes and Mr. Seiwert took turns running up and down it.”

In 1950 Autocar, a manufacturer of heavy trucks based in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, introduced an all new steel cab that was manufactured by Crown Steel. Dubbed the 'Autocar Driver Cab,' the Crown-built cab replaced a composite structure built using a wooden frame covered by pressed-steel panels.

The new 'Driver Cab' featured a welded steel frame consisting of heavy-gauge steel channel sections. Stamped steel panels, including a one-piece roof panel, were welded to the frame, creating a sturdy home for the truck driver that was so popular that it remained in production until 1987. The new cab included an expansive two-piece windshield with curved sides for increased visibility, and was also available as a sleeper cab starting in 1952.

When White Motor Co. purchased Autocar in 1953 the 'Driver Cab'  was adopted across the line, replacing the composite cabs the firm had been using since the 1930s. The Orrville-built cab later made its way to White's Western Star and Diamond T/Diamond Reo truck line as well. 

Another Crown Steel customer was the International Harvester Corp. for whom it constructed day cabs, sleeper cabs and hood and fender stampings. They also constructed certain types of Brockway Truck cabs as well as enclosed operator cabs forClark and Terex, two manufacturers of heavy construction equipment.

In 1955, Crown Steel Co. formally acquired a majority of the stock of the Orrville Metal Specialty Co., reorganizing it as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Crown Steel.

The original Crown Steel Products plant (the former Ohio Comb and Novelty Co. plant on Elm St.), later became home to Flo-Tork, incorporated in 1957 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Crown Steel.

DEK, a pioneer in the manufacture of FRP (Fiberglas reinforced plastic) automotive and industrial products, became a Crown subsidiary in 1958 after being formed in 1953 Eugene Rake, Donald Baney and Eugene Hannie (also a director of Orrville Metal Specialty Co.). DEK produced FRP sleeper cabs, engine covers, fenders, and route delivery bodies as well as bowling lane equipment for AMF. Originally located in a small shop on East Pine Street, Orrville, it later moved to a new factory building located east of the Crown Steel building on North Main Street.

In 1962 Julius Fejes purchased United Steel Fabrictors, a small Wooster, Ohio-based manufacturer of steel buildings and structural steel, theMarch 22, 1962 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Crown Steel Products Purchases Fabricators

“Orrville’s biggest employer has extended its operations into Wooster, according to an announcement made Friday by Julius Fejes, president of Crown Steel Products Co. Crown Steel's purchase of the well-known United Steel Fabricators corporation could be a real boon to the industrial development of Wayne County. Growing industry and new industry mean a growing community.

“Wartime Peak

“United Steel Fabricators reached its production peak, during World War II when approximately 800 employees were turning out airplane landing mats, Quonset huts, pontoon bridges, ammunition dumps and Bangalor snakes. At the present time, an average of 350 employees at Fabricators produces mainly widely used peacetime products. About 350 persons work at Crown Steel Products in Orrville, United Steel Fabricators is now part of the Crown Steel family which includes Orrville Metal Specialty, Flo-Tork and D.E.K. Management of these companies is very optimistic about the future industrial; potential, since the personnel will be able to share ideas and work while seeking new avenues of development.

“Healthy Picture

“In an era where industries seek diversification, last week's acquisition paints a healthy picture. Management and operation of U. S. Fabricators will remain the same as it has been, according 'which means,’ he added, ‘there will be no change among employees.

“Team Effort

“Mr. Fejes said he and his associates hope to continue the team effort which has played an important part in the growth of Crown Steel and its related companies, and to carry such efforts over into operation of the new addition. He said he has been very favorably impressed with United Steel Fabricators Inc. personnel and realizes success and growth of that company can be attributed in a large part to its Engineering Department and sales organization. Management of Fabricators in eludes W. C. ‘Bill’ Martin, Jr., Thomas Henderson, Joseph Keefe, and Larry Bloetscher. Fabricators occupies 170,000 feet of floor space on 13 1/2 acres between High and Gasche Streets in Wooster. Crown Steel companies have a combined total of 300,000 square feet of floor space 011 42 acres in 'Orrville. Sees Wayne Co. Benefit Board of Directors of the Fabricators included Ceylon Hudson, chairman: Walter Locker; Leo Klise; David Taggert; and W.C. Martin, Jr.

“W. C. Martin, Sr. was president of the corporation until his death in 1957; Walter Lockei from 1957 to 1959 and W. C. Martin Jr., has been at the helm since that date. Management of Crown Steel Products and its subsidiaries includes Julius Fejes, president and general manager; John C. Halloran, executive vice president, Roger ??? vice president in charge of engineering; Gene Hannie, manager of D. E. K. and vice president in charge of research and development; and Harold C. Kropf, secretary and treasurer. United Steel Fabricators was founded in 1939 by a group of Republic Steel Co. executives including Julius Kahn, W.C. Martin, Jr., Keith McLeod and others. Its primary purpose was to manufacture heavy special engineering products.

“With the help of local capital, the company rapidly expanded. Participating groups including the Kemrow Co., the Klise interests, Walter Locker; Ceylon Hudson, J.D. Overholt, D.A. Taggert, and the late L.D. Sanborn shared in its growth.

“Fabricators' shareholders purchased the Gasche Street plant from the United Engineering and Foundry Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., manufacturer of heavy rolling machinery equipment.

“Once Owned By Japanese

“In 1939, Japanese interests negotiated the purchase of this plant and planned to move it to Japan, but then a group of community-minded people of Wooster changed the plans. The loss of a major industry in Wooster looked serious, and so the Wooster Board of Trade stepped in. After many months of negotiations, the Japanese interests agreed to sell the buildings and real estate to the newly-formed United Steel Fabricators.

“WW II Roll

“In a few years, World War II began and United Steel Fabricators was destined to play a very important roll.

“With the cooperation of U.S. Steel Corp., Fabricators contributed many war products for which it was awarded the Army and Navy ‘E’ Award.

“After the war. Fabricators was one of the first companies to produce curtain wall panels which have revolutionized the construction of large buildings. Three of the large stainless steel clad buildings in Pittsburgh's Gate Way Center were a joint effort of Prudential Life Insurance Co., Starrett Bros., United Steel Fabricators and U.S. Steel Corp. United Steel Fabricators has also been a major contributor to the expanded use of steel doors and frames for commercial buildings and public housing. The Highway Products Division of Fabricators, manufactures corrugated metal pipe, guard rails, bridge flooring and special engineering items.

“Research and development efforts in various engineering fields have contributed to many projects including a complete line of metal fabricated industrial and commercial buildings.

“Crown Steel Incorporated

“Both Crown Steel and Metal Specialty were incorporated in 1947. Flo-Tork was incorporated in 1957 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Crown Steel, and D. E. K. was acquired by Crown in 1959. Flo-Tork's principal product, a leak-proof oil-pressure actuator, is used by nuclear submarines and other sea-going vessels. The actuator is also an integral part of every Polaris missile launching mechanism.

“D.E.K. produces many fiberglass products including bowling alley equipment (seats, benches, AMF pinspotter components), parts of sleeper cabs, engine covers, fenders and package-delivery bodies for major truck and vehicle manufacturers.

“Orrville Metal Specialty is now the largest known builder of all-steel sleeper and special cabs for truck and earth mover manufacturers in the U.S.

“Crown Steel, the ‘mother’ company, displays a versatility and completeness in equipment which enables it to shear, form and assemble steel and aluminum up to one-quarter of an inch thick. Primary products have been truck bodies and equipment for utility companies, along with cabs and parts for manufacturers of earth-moving equipment.

“Operations of United Steel Fabricators will be able to compliment production of other Crown Steel industries, according to the new owners. And, in turn, the Orrville plants, will be able to aid manufacturing at the Fabricators' plant in Wooster.

“‘Management of both United Steel Fabricators and Crown Steel Products is pleased with the purchase-sale,’ said W. C. Martin, Jr., president and general manager of Fabricators.”

A pioneer in commercial van conversions, Crown Steel Products established a satellite facility in Vermillion, Ohio, located just west of Ford Motor Co.'s Lorain, Ohio Econoline  van assembly plant, the July 3, 1962 edition of the Elyria Chronicle Telegram reporting:

“Ford Gets $12 Million Contract, By Jack Babcock

“Lorain, O. - The largest overall contract ever awarded by the Federal Government for economy buses and trucks today went to the Lorain Ford Division Assembly Plant. Calling for $12 million worth of equipment, the series of three contracts provides for 977 Econoline vans, 694 Falcon station wagons, 954 B-500 buses and 266 Econoline truck-ambulances. The equipment will be divided among Army, Air Force and Navy.

“Production of the buses, vans, pickup wagons, and trucks will begin in September, just after the 1963 models appear. The first two of the three-series contract was for $4 million and included the B-500 buses and the 266 Econoline truck-ambulances. The third contract, completed today, was for $8 million and provided for the remainder of the equipment. No new employees will be hired in the immediate future but this may change when production on the contract begins, said Ford officials.

“The conversion of trucks to ambulances will be handled by the new Orrville Metals Specialty Co., Vermilion. This is the first large scale order received by the company since its opening earlier this week. The 17 man crew will be responsible for converting the vehicles into operating ambulances by the installation of special fittings for cots, medical cabinets and emergency equipment.

“The entire conversion process will take about three months, reported foreman Donald Lepley.

“The $70,000 Sunnyside Rd., Vermillion plant, a division of the Crown Steel Products Co., Orrville, Ohio, is the newest Ford Motor ‘support industry’.

“In addition to the Army contract the plant has received an order from RCA for 734 trucks which will be filled later this year. Shelving and installation of special equipment will be included in this contract quote. ‘If orders continue to flow like this a second building, equal in size to the present structure, will be built,’ said Crown Products Sales Manager Warren Brewster. Contracting for the plant was done by the United Steel Fabricating Co., Wooster, Ohio.”

Orrville's various auto-related manufacturers were featured in a special April 30, 1964 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent that covered a visit to the community by Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes in celebration ofIndustrial Appreciation Day:

“Governor Rhodes Salutes Orrville Industry

“Orrville’s widely known throughout the state for its 36 major manufacturing plants. Yesterday, Industrial Appreciation Day, Gov. James Rhodes visited our community to present an informal, non-political talk about the future of industry in the immediate area as well as throughout the state. Orrville is unique for a city of its size (approximate population of about 7,000) in the breadth of its diversified industry. 'Products manufactured range from pipe organs and jams and jellies to truck cabs and vises. Following is a brief summary of the industries in Orrville with up-to-date employment figures.

“Crown Steel Products

“Crown Steel Products Co., located on North Main Street, has three subsidiary plants. D.E.K. Manufacturing Co., Flo-Tork, Inc. and Orrville Metal Specialty Co. Crown Steel was founded in 1940 by Julius Fejes, and since that time has undergone five expansions. Its space has increased from 20,600 to over 100,000 square feet. Crown Steel's principal products are metal products used in the truck, automobile, utility and related fields.

“Metal Specialty

“Largest-known manufacturer of all steel sleeper and special cabs for trucks and earth mover manufacturers is Orrville Metal Specialty. The plant is located at the intersection of North Elm Street and Smithville Road. The company, incorporated in 1947, became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Crown Steel in 1955.


“Flo-Tork manufactures rotary actuators for submarines and industry, and in 1961, produced the only leakproof rotary actuator available. It was founded in 1957 and is located on Penn Avenue, it is the smallest of the four companies headed by Mr. Fejes.

“D.E.K. Manufacturing

“D.E.K. Manufacturing produces a colorful variety of fiberglass products including bowling alley equipment, such as seats and benches, AMF pin spotter components, sleeper cab parts, engine covers, fenders and package-delivery bodies for motor vehicles. The company, founded in 1953, became a part of Crown Steel in 1958.

“Orville Body Co.

“Orrville Body Co. is known for its manufacture of several varieties of truck cabs, as well as engine cover containers, stampings and parts for floor sweepers, automatic bowling pin-setter equipment, cat-walks and chutes, conveyor belt equipment, accessories for trucks and cars and metal fabricated and fiberglass molded furnishings. The plant, located on East Orr Street, was founded by John LeChot in 1928. Since its founding, Orrville Body Co. has undergone several major expansion programs. It employs 271.

“Officers are Mr. LeChot, - president and treasurer; W.C. Thomas, executive vice president and secretary; A.S. Pezoldt, vice president arid general manager; C. E. Lotz, vice president and assistant secretary, and W. B. Taylor, comptroller and assistant treasurer.

“Will-Burt Co.

“The Will-Burt Co., located on South Main Street, was founded in 1894. It came to Orrville in 1901 and has grown large from a small beginning. Plant No. 3 has just recently been opened and will be in operation soon. Products of Will-Burt are heat tag equipment (stokers and stoker-fired space heaters), automatic sand-blasting machines and the Versa-Vise. Officers are William B. Baer, president and general manager; W. Harrold Johnson, vice president of manufacturing and secretary, and E. G. Baer, chairman of the board and treasurer.”

The July 30, 1964 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent annoucned that Crown Steel was constructing a new office and a separate building to house its new research center:

“Crown Steel Products Begins Construction

“Board of directors of Crown Steel Products Co. announced on Tuesday that a 54 by 200-foot general office building and a 60 by 160-foot experimental department building is being built on land recently purchased from Karl Royer. The 132-acre plot, located on Ohio 94, across from the Crown Steel plant, is currently being excavated by Nussbaum Construction Co. of Kidron.

“General Offices

“The general office building will include offices for the engineering, sales, purchasing, accounting and material controls departments, as well as provisions for main offices for the executive personnel. The plans, drawn up by Cox, Forsythe and Associates of Canton, have been approved by the board, and construction is scheduled to begin as soon as possible. Officials hope that the office building will be ready for partial occupancy within 90 days.

“The one-story office building also will contain a full basement which will be used to house company records and blueprints.

“Experimental Building

“The experimental building, which will adjoin the office building, will be used for experiments and research in the development of new products.

“Julius Fejes, president of the company, stated that, ‘The principal reasons for acquiring the farm and proceeding at once to construct the buildings is to better enable the company to serve our customers. Present facilities are proving to be inadequate to take care of the growth and expansion of the company at the present time.’

“The experimental building, he said, will provide necessary facilities for a "fully-equipped experimental department which will enable the company to not only develop new products, but improve those which we are currently manufacturing.”

The August 6, 1964 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent announced that Eugene V. Hannie, a longtime friend and business associate of Julius Fejes, was suing Crown Steel Products:

“Eugene Hannie Seeks $250,563 In Suit Against Crown Steel Products

“Eugene V. Hannie, 1824 Lynn Dr., is seeking $250,563 in a petition against the Crown Steel Products Co., filed Friday in the Wayne County Common Pleas Court.

“The suit arises out of alleged refusal by Crown Steel to buy his stock holdings in the company and to renew his employment contract. Mr. Hannie alleges in his petition that he entered into a written agreement on December 15, 1958, to transfer his ownership of the stock of DEK Manufacturing Co., of which he was president and manager, to Crown Steel for 3.5 per cent of the stock of Crown Steel and the employment by Crown Steel for five years. Mr. Hannie claims that he had held a majority stock interest in DEK.

“The agreement, according to Mr. Hannie, specified that he receive a minimum yearly salary of $15,000. It also provided for an option by Crown Steel to renew the employment for an additional five years and to buy Mr. Hannie's stocks if Crown Steel should fail to renew his employment.

“According to the petition, the price to be paid shall be the amount obtained when $100,000 multiplied by a fraction, the numerator of which is the book value at the time of such sale and the denominator of which is the present book value at the nearest accounting period, determined by independent auditors.

“Mr. Hannie claims that after his five-year employment, ending December 15, 1963, his contract has not been renewed, and that Crown Steel has refused to buy his stock holdings at the price set forth in the agreement. Mr. Hannie claims that the book value of the stock as determined by independent auditors increased from $3.40 to $7.49 per share during the period of December 15, 1958, to December 15, 1963. He says that the amount to be paid on his holding should be $220,294.12.

“In his second cause of action, Mr. Hannie alleges that during his five-year period of employment, although he was paid at least $15,000 a year, Crown Steel failed to pay him bonuses and fringe benefits, which he claims amounts to $30,269.24.

“Mr. Hannies petition was filed through attorneys David A. Funk and F. Emerson Logee.”

The July 15, 1965 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent announced that United Steel Fabricators, the Wooster-based Crown Steel subsidiary, had formed an associated firm in Drew, Mississippi:

“Purchase Of Mississippi Plant Gives Grown Steel Southern Outlet

“Julius Fejes, president and general manager of Crown Steel Products Co. and its subsidiaries, has announced that through directors, a new company has been formed in Drew, Miss., known as Southern USF, Inc. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Steel Fabricators Inc., of Wooster, and has been formed to permit the Wooster company to establish a wider southern market.

“Objective Reached

“Products of the company will include hollow metal doors and frames, bodies for the automotive industry, and services for custom fabrication of sheet metal for many industrial uses. Mr. Fejes said expansion of the parent company's operations and operation of Crown Steel Products Co. and its other subsidiaries into southern market areas has been an objective of the officers and directors of the company for several years.

“Prior to establishment of the Southern USF, Inc., all United Steel Fabricators products had been shipped from the Wooster plant. The new plant will operate in about 63,000 square feet of floor space and will make available a full flush standard hollow metal door and frame competitively priced .for customers in the southern section of the country.

“Panel Products

“The new company will engage in full-scale production of panel products, including blackboards for educational institutions and building trade. Also included will be steel and aluminum bodies for the automotive industry which are under design by engineers.

“William McKinstry, former plant production manager of the USF plant in Wooster, has been appointed manager of the southern firm. He has had considerable experience in fabrication of the proprietary products of the parent company and hollow metal doors and frames.

“The Wooster company was organized about 25 years ago as a fabricator for highway guard rails, bridge decking and culvert pipe. The USF product line has expanded to include metal buildings, doors and frames, tractors, bodies for the automotive industry, piece parts for electronic industry and a wide variety of other products from sheet metal for general industrial and. automotive uses. Further expansion into these and other fields is planned at the southern plant.

“Offices Here

“The Wooster firm became a subsidiary of Crown Steel in 1962. Sales and general administration offices for the new Southern USF, Inc. will be consolidated at the Orrville offices with offices of the entire Crown Steel Metal Specialty, Inc., D.E.K. Manufacturing, United Steel Fabricators, M&H Tool and Mfg. Co. and Crown Steel Products Company, Inc.”

The July 15, 1965 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent annoucned that Fejes had pruchased a second Wooster, Ohio manufacturer, the M&H Tool and Mfg. Co.:

“Crown Steel Purchases Tool Company

“Assets of the M&H Tool and Mfg. Co. of Wooster have been purchased by Crown Steel Products Co. Julius Fejes, president of Crown Steel, announced that directors authorized the purchase. Mr. Fejes said operations will continue under the present management as a separate division of Crown Steel Products Co. The reason for this is so that customers of M&H Tool and Mfg. Co. will receive the same services and work as in the past. Plant facilities will be expanded as soon as possible to include additional equipment with the expectation of providing more varied and better services. M&H Tool is located across the street from United Steel Fabricators of Wooster and is engaged in the manufacture of tools, dies, jigs and fixtures and custom machine work. The plant consists of approximately 25,000 square feet production area and employs 45.”

In early 1967 Julius Fejes arranged for the acquisition of Crown Steel Products Co. by the Allen Electric & Equipment Co. of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the February 16, 1967 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Sale of Crown Steel Firms To Allen Electric In Works

“Crown Steel Products Co., employer of more than 950 persons in Orrville, Wooster and Drew, Miss., will be sold to Allen Electric and Equipment Co. of Kalamazoo, Mich., according to an announcement Monday by Julius Fejes, president of Crown Steel, and Henry Kohorn, president of Allen Electric.

“Allen Electric, a company approximately the same size as Crown Steel, is listed on the Midwest Stock Exchange. Agreement in principle has been reached for the acquisition by Allen of all assets, property and business of Crown Steel. The purchase price was not disclosed.

“Mr. Fejes has been in the Far East with Gov. James A. Rhodes and the Ohio Trade Commission seeking new business for the company, according to Harold Kropf, legal adviser. Consolidated sales of Crown Steel Products were approximately $15 million for the calendar year 1966. With its wholly owned subsidiaries, Crown Steel Products is a manufacturer of vehicle cabs and bodies for leading automotive manufacturers and utility companies, rotary hydraulic actuators and a broad line of highway construction accessories, bridge components and sheet metal buildings.

“It was emphasized that consummation of the acquisition is subject to approval of a definitive agreement by directors and shareholders of Crown Steel and of Allen Electric, the approval of Allen Electric's institutional investor's and completion of the financing incident to the acquisition.

“It is anticipated that, if the necessary approvals are obtained, completion of the acquisition will be consummated in July. No changes in operating policies and personnel are contemplated. Crown Steel and subsidiaries include D.E.K. Manufacturing Co. and Flo-Tork Corp, both of Orrville; United Steel Fabricators, Wooster, and Southern United Steel Fabricators, Drew, Miss., M and H Tool Co. of Wooster is a division. There are approximately 950 persons employed within the Crown Steel organization.

“Critchfield law firm of Wooster is handling legal arrangements of the transaction for Crown Steel. Allen Electric & Equipment, traded on the Midwest Stock Exchange, closed Monday at 28, less than a point off the year's high. Its low for the year was 15.

“According to the Data Digest's Monthly Stock Report for February, Allen has current assets of 9.5 million against current liabilities of $2.6 million. Capitalization consists of term debt of $5.2 million, 10,000 shares of preferred stock and 720,000 shares of common stock.”

Crown Steel Products also manufactured a line of 10-12 hp farm tractors for export to developing countries. The May 25, 1967 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reported on a visit to the Orrville plant by two Greek farmers from the Isle of Rhodes to oversee the tractor's production:

“Greek Farmers Inspect, Operate Crown Steel's UFS 'Export' Tractor

“William van der Steen, design engineer at Crown Steel Products Co., demonstrated the new LSF small farm tractor produced by the firm for three visitors from Greece Wednesday morning at the company's main plant on North Main Street.

“Mark Mastrandrens of Athens, Greece, made arrangements through the US State Department for two farmers from the Island of Rhodes to visit the local plant. Bill Sakrika and George Kahramanis are now visitors in the U.S. on work visas to study farm management and the agricultural economy of the States. The two progressive farmers came to the United States on their own without help of government support. T h e small tractor demonstrated Wednesday is powered with a 10-12 horsepower engine and is suitable for the 30- to 50- acre farms in Greece. Using kerosene as fuel, the tractor is sturdily built so that only minimum maintenance is required. Repairs needed are those which farmers are able to make themselves. Priced at about $1,000 in U. S. currency, the tractors sell in Greece for about 45,000 drachmas. According to Mr. Mastrandrens, who will be agent for the tractors in his country, farmers can obtain a subsidy from the government to help in the purchase of such equipment.”

The formal acquisition of Crown by Allen Electric was consummated on July 25, 1967, the July 27, 1967 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Check for $5 Million Seals Deal As Allen Electric Buys Crown Steel

“In a brief ceremony Tuesday at the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Co. of Chicago, Allen Electric and Equipment Co. President Henry Kohorn handed a check for $5 million to Julius Fejes, president of Crown Steel Products Co., in connection with Allen's acquisition of Crown Steel. An acquisition agreement between the companies was announced in March of this year.

“Terms of the purchase also include 200,000 common shares of Allen Electric and $1.5 million in Allen notes.

“Consolidated sales of Crown Steel Products in 1966 were approximately $15 million. The firm and its subsidiaries manufacture vehicle cabs and bodies, a line of highway products such as guard rails, bridge flooring and culvert pipe, hydraulic rotary actuators and pre-engineered metal buildings.

“Mr. Kohorn stated today that the merger of Tempo Instrument Incorporated into Allen Electric became effective July 13. Allen is issuing 72,000 common shares in exchange for all the outstanding shares of the Plainview, N.Y. maker of electronic timers and related products for military and commercial applications.

“Officers of Crown Steel Products in Chicago for transfer of the company to Allen Electric beside Mr. Fejes were, Atty. Harold C. Kropf, secretary-treasurer, and Roger Berkey, vice president in charge of research and development. John C. Johnston and Lincoln Oviatt of the Critchfield law firm in Wooster, which handled and represented Crown Steel as counsel were also present.”

Six months after purchasing Crown Steel, Allen Electric's president announced a  revised slate of officers for Crown and its subsidiaries, the February 29, 1968 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Allen Electric President Announces New Appointments For Crown Steel

“Appointments for divisions of Allen Electric and Equipment Co., operated locally under the Crown Steel Products and subsidiaries banner, have been announced by President Henry Kohorn in Chicago.

“Fred J. Lincoln has been appointed vice president and treasurer of all the Crown divisions. He had served as regional controller and was recently appointed vice president of Allen Electric.

“Mr. Lincoln, a certified public accountant, is a graduate of Michigan State University, and is currently residing with his family in Saginaw, Mich. Mr. a n d Mrs. Lincoln and three daughters plan to move to this city in June.

“Chester W. Anderson was appointed executive vice president and general manager of Crown Steel and D. E. K. Manufacturing divisions, with full responsibility for sales, engineering and production. He has 34 years experience in the truck manufacturing business, having served in several executive capacities during those years, Most of the time, he was associated with International Harvester, but also spent four years as vice president of manufacturing at Trailmobile Division of Pullman, Inc. and four years as general manager of Brockway Division of Mack Truck.

“Mr. Anderson is married and has three children, two married and one living, at home, and he is planning to move to the area in July.

“In heading, up operations of United Steel Fabricators of Wooster and Southern U.S.F., Inc., of Drew, Miss., Allen Electric has appointed Donald C. Collier to the position of vice president and general manager. Mr. Collier came to Crown Steel in the Fall of 1966 as works manager, having previously served in various manufacturing assignments in his 32 years of service with the Euclid Division of General Motors Corp.

“Mr. and Mrs. Collier and two children presently reside in Akron.

“Mr. Kohom stated further that he was happy to announce that Julius Fejes has consented to continue as president of Crown Steel and the other divisions in advisory and consulting capacities.

“Harold C. Kropf, who is a director of Allen Electric, will continue in his position as vice president of Allen Electric for Crown Steel Products. He has been actively associated with Crown for the past 22 years.

“Merle R. Moser of this city will continue in his official capacity as controller and in full charge of the accounting department of the several divisions comprising the Crown Steel group.”

The October 17, 1968 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent announced that Albert C. Barth, Crown's chief engineer, was receiving a promotion:

“Barth Promoted At Crown Steel Albert C. Barth, who has served as chief engineer for the Crown Steel Products Co. for 13 years has been promoted to manager of engineering, research and development. Crown Steel, a division of The Allen Electric and Equipment Co., is a leading manufacturer of truck cabs, cab components and special van interiors. Mr. Barth joined Crown on Jan. 1, 1955 as chief engineer. He previously had served in draftsman and engineering capacities for Mack Trucks, The Budd Co. and the Autocar Division of White Motor. A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Mr. Barth was graduated from the Franklin and Marshall Academy, Lancaster, Pa„ and attended the Penn State Extension University. He is a member of the American Society of Body Engineers. Mr. Barth is married, the father of two sons and resides at 148 Smucker St.”

In 1968 Crown Fabrication of Canada Ltd. was formed for the production of crew cabs and van interiors for Ford Motor Co.'s new Ontario Truck Plant, the October 17, 1968 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Canadian Division Of Crown Steel Established By Allen Electric Co.

“The Crown Steel Products Division of Allen Electric and Equipment Co. has established a Canadian company and opened a new 30,000 square foot plant at Clarkson, Ontario. Crown Steel will operate its new Canadian division as CrownFab of Canada Ltd. The new facility has started initial operations. Mr. Anderson states that all employment will be obtained from the Oakville area and that the source of materials and fabrications will be from this area wherever possible. The CrownFab plant will modify original - equipment truck cabs to meet customer specifications and will produce related automotive equipment. It is one of several Allen Electric and Equipment Co. affiliates with facilities in Canada serving the automotive and electronic fields.”

In 1969 The Allen Electric & Equipment Co. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the recently-formed Allen Group, a holding company headed by Walter B. Kissinger, the younger brother of Richard M. Nixon's National Security Advisor (later Secretary of State), Henry A. Kissinger.

DEK Mfg. became Crown Fiber Glass in  early 1969, the January 23, 1969 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“D.E.K. Mfg., Charges Name

“D.E.K. Mfg., a separate operation of Crown Steel Products Division for many years and for the last year a division of Allen Electric and Equipment Co., of Chicago, has changed its name to Crown Fiber Glass.

“The newly-named firm became part of Allen Electric when Allen acquired Crown Steel in 1967. The Canton advertising agent of Covey and Koons Inc. has landed the firm's account along with four other Allen divisions in the Akron area: Crown Steel Products, Crown Fab of Canada Ltd. and Flo-Tork, all headquartered in Orrville.”

The December 26, 1969 edition of the Elyria Chronicle Telegram announced the expansion of Crown Steel's plant in Vermillion, Ohio:

“The Crown Steel Products Division of Allen Electric and Equipment Co. is expanding its Lorain plant by more than 150 per cent, to 78,000 square feet. The Orrville-based firm on Baumhart Road buys Econoline vans from Ford, its next-door neighbor, then customizes them for use by service men and on-the-spot salesmen. Completion of the enlargement, probably by March 1, will enable the company to employ 150 persons, and as many as 300 by the end of 1970, according to a company spokesman.”

The January 8, 1970 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent announced the recent appointment of Paul D. Gilliland as Crown vice president:

“Gilliland Named New Crown VP

“Walter B. Kissinger, President and Chief Executive Officer of Allen Electric and Equipment Co., announced Monday afternoon the appointment of Paul D. Gilliland as Group Vice President for Allen's Crown Group Division, which is headquartered in Orrville. Gilliland was previously Vice President and Divisional General Manager of the Roper Corporation in Kankakee, Illinois. The new vice president has had over 20 years experience in manufacturing and general industrial management, including 10 - years experience in the automotive industry. Crown Steel Products was founded in 1940 and incorporated in 1947, It remained locally owned until 1967 when Allen Electric and Equipment Co. of Chicago purchased Crown Steel and all of its subsidiaries. The Crown group is now a division of Allen Electric and consists of manufacturing facilities in Orrville, Lorain, Wooster and Vermillion, Ohio and Clarksville, Ontario. Mr. Gilliland will be in charge of these plants. The Crown group specializes in steel and fiberglass truck cabs and body components for the over and off the road truck industry. They also manufacture custom engineered van interiors and specially fabricated parts for the communications industry. Commenting on his move to Orrville, Gilliland noted that he was looking forward to coming back to a small town (Kankakee is a city of 75,000) although he stated that he ‘did not know a thing about Orrville except it was a town of 7,500. Crown being in Orrville did not influence my decision to come to Crown,’ he added. Gilliland is a graduate of Purdue University, and served in the Navy during World War II. The 48 year old executive is married, and has three children. He and his wife, Wilma, plan to move to Orrville in the near future.”

One month later the February 5, 1970 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent announced three more promotions at Crown:

“Crown Announces Three Promotions

“Paul D. Gilliland, group vice president of the Crown group of Allen Electric and Equipment Co., has announced recent promotions of three employes. C. W. Anderson, executive vice president of Crown Steel Products of Orrville, has, in addition, been named president of CrownFab Canada Ltd. of Clarkson, Ont. Gilliland said Anderson's positions will put him in complete charge at CrownFab and he will remain in charge of research and development, sales, marketing and engineering at Crown Steel Products. Heading Crown's marketing operation and investigation of new marketing areas, Duane N. Backstrom has been named to the newly created position of general manager of marketing for Crown Steel Products of Orrville and Crown Fab of Canada Ltd. Also receiving a promotion was D. J. Bowers, who was promoted to the position of general manager of Crown Steel Products here. Bowers will be in charge of the three plants in Orrville and one in Lorain. This will include responsibilities of quality control, personnel, industrial, engineering and manufacturing operations. Anderson had been a works manager for International Harvester and Brockway Motor Trucks and vice president of manufacturing for Trailmobile before joining Crown in 1967. He and his wife, Julianne, have three children. Backstrom attended the University of Pittsburgh, and has been at Crown since 1964 in various positions, including project engineer, project manager and sales manager. He and his wife, Cheryl, have three children, Denise, Lynne and Dave. Bowers has been at Crown since 1948, working his way up to plant manager, works manager and now general manager. An Air Force veteran, he and his wife Betty have two daughters, Kathleen and Susan.”

One week later Gilliland promoted three more Crown employees, the February 12, 1970 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Crown Announces 3 More Promotions

“Paul D. Gilliland, group vice president of the Crown group of Allen Electric and Equipment Co., has announced promotions of three of its employees. E.H. Rudd has been named general manager of United Steel Fabricators, Wooster, and will have responsibility over quality control, personnel and industrial engineering, as well as manufacturing operations. Vice president of finance for the Crown group of Allen Electric and Equipment is Harry Hodge, who will direct financial and accounting operations for all divisions of the Crown group — Crown Steel Products, Crown Fiber Glass. CrownFab of Canada Ltd., and United Steel Fabricators. Also receiving a promotion was C.W. Anderson. Assuming vice presidency of United Steel Fabricators of Wooster, Anderson will be in charge of sales, marketing, engineering and research and development of doors and frames, highway products and special products division of United Steel. Before joining Crown in 1967, he was works manager for International Harvester, works manager for Brockway Motor Trucks and vice president-manufacturing for Trailmobile. He and wife, Julianne, have three children, Gary and Martha, both married, and Richard, 10. Hodge is a native of Scotland, and graduated from Lane Technical High School, Chicago. He earned his BA degree in business administration from Northwestern University. He and his wife, Edith, have three children. They presently live in Kankakee, Ill., but plan to move to the Orrville area soon. Rudd, an Ohio University graduate, has previously been with Eaton Manufacturing, Euclid Division of GMC and Crown Steel Products. He and his wife, Marybelle, have two daughter, Lorrie, 13, and Judy, 10. They live at 626 Sunrise View Dr., Wooster.”

The March 25, 1971 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent revealed there was another, previously unmentioned, Crown subsidiary, Truck Specialties, Inc., located at 20769 Mound Rd. Warren, Michigan, which was purchased to expand its upfitting and assembly business to include Dodge vans:

“Bowers And Barth Named Crown VP's

“D. J. Bowers has been named vice president and general manager of the Crown Group's Crown Steel Products Division, Crown Fiber Glass Division, Truck Specialties Division and CrownFab of Canada, Ltd.

“The announcement was made by Paul D. Gilliland, Group vice president of Allen Electric and Equipment Co., Crown's parent company. Bowers will be in charge of six plants: three in Orrville, one in Lorain, one in Clarkson, Ontario, and one in Warren, Mich. In his new position, he will be responsible for functions of quality control, production control, manufacturing engineering and production.

“Bowers has been employed at Crown since 1948 and formerly served as general manager of Crown Steel Products Division. He and his wife, Betty, have two children, Kathy, who is married, and Susan, a junior at OHS. The Bowers family resides at 335 Lakewood Dr.

“A.C. Barth has been appointed to the position of vice president of engineering for the Crown Group. He formerly served as director of engineering research and development. Gilliland stated that Barth will be responsible for all engineering functions, including research and development activities for Crown Steel Products Division, Crown Fiber Glass Division, CrownFab of Canada, Ltd., Truck Specialties Division and U. S. Steel Fabricators Division.

“A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Barth attended Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining Crown in 1955 as chief engineer he was employed by the Autocar Division of White Motor Co. He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, American Society of Body Engineers and Orrville Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife, Frances, have two married sons, Richard and Donald. The Barths live at 148 Smucker St.”

For two decades Crown Steel’s Orrville Metal Specialties subsidiary constructed White Motor’s Autocar ‘Driver's Cab’ which eventually graced all of White's vehicles (Whites, Autocars and Western Star). In 1977 Crown began construction of White’s all-new aluminum cab, the July 14, 1977 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting on the successfully completion of the first 2,500 examples:

CAPTION - “Does the person at the left remind you a world famous statesman? He should. The man pictured Is Walter Kissinger, brother of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. And Walter Kissinger was in Orrville Saturday on a sort of diplomatic mission of his own. Kissinger, the president and chairman of the Allen Group, Inc. came to say 'thank you' to the Crown Steel employes who participated in the company's incentive production program. Helping draw the winning tickets for a variety of prizes was Kissinger's daughter, while Gerald Dianiska, Crown's director of industrial relations, assists her.

“Crown Steel throws a 'victory' party to celebrate reaching its production goal by Barb Brucker

“Congratulations were the order of the day Saturday as employees of Crown Divisions of the Allen Group, Inc. celebrated the completion of an incentive program which resulted in the production of more than 2,500 truck cabs in May and June.

“Gerald Dianiska, director of industrial relations, told the employees that in reaching the goal, they had displayed teamwork of such a caliber that ‘even Vince Lombardi would have been inspired.’ The special production program - dubbed ‘The Crown 2500’ - was for the six-week period preceding July 4. It was instituted to produce and ship 2,500 truck cabs to the White Motor Corp., which manufactures a line of all-welded, aluminum trucks. In addition to the incentive program, Crown also hired 150+ new employees at its Orrville facilities and operated both plants around-the-clock, six days a week to meet the deadline.

“Saturday, the Orrville plants' employees and those from Crown's Wooster operation turned out for a large company party. Between 2,000 and 3,000 persons - including employees and their families - were invited to attend festivities which included a catered lunch, a Dixieland band, entertainment for the children and drawings for prizes such as a 1977 Ford Thunderbird.

“To be eligible to win the Thunderbird, an employee had to have a perfect attendance record and must have worked every Saturday during the six-week period. The big winner was Jack Pearson of Wadsworth, a Crown employee for three months. ‘I'm real surprised,’ said Pearson. ‘I'm real dumbfounded. We all worked hard, but I'm glad I got it.’ He said that on his way to the company celebration, he had jokingly told his wife, Jeanne, that she could drive the Thunderbird home. Was he going to stick to that promise? ‘He'll have to let me,’ said Mrs. Pearson. ‘I think he's too nervous to drive it.’ Pearson admitted that it was rough sometimes working every Saturday, ‘but it sure seems worth it now.’

“Joe Edinger, personnel manager at Crown, said the production goal was actually reached a day ahead of schedule, at 7:30 p.m. on July 1. The total shipment of cabs sent to White Motor Corp. was 2,504.

“He characterized the cooperation of the Crown employees as ‘outstanding, super. We're very, very happy. It's been as successful as we could have possibly hoped.’ Brian Kay, chairman of the celebration, also said that ‘the attitude and enthusiasm of the employees at both plants has just been superb.’ But Kay and Edinger weren't the only ones with praise for the employees. Top officials of Crown and the Allen Group, Inc., were also on hand to add their congratulations.

“Walter B. Kissinger, chairman and president of the Allen Group, Inc., told the employees that he wanted to ‘express my personal thanks for what you have achieved. When we got started in May, many skeptics didn't think we could come through,’ said Kissinger. However, he said that once the program was in operation, ‘I never had any doubt that you would come through.’ Kissinger said that people working toward a common goal and achieve remarkable things. It's ultimately the human spirit which makes things happen. ‘It's great fun to spend this day with you,’ he said. ‘All of us will look back on this achievement with great pride.’

“Barry Banducci, who heads the Allen Group's truck division, said, ‘It is fitting and right to give our prizes. I have never been associated with a more fitting, accomplishment oriented people in my life. ‘You're the winners and I thank you.’ The president of Crown Divisions also had high praise for the employees. Frank Hyson told the group, ‘I am proud of this significant accomplishment one day ahead of schedule. This is the result of Crown's teamwork - an outstanding work force, experienced supervision and strong technical and administrative staff support.’

“Ed Reed, the general manager of Crown's Orrville and Wooster operations termed the prize drawings ‘a very fitting climax to the most impressive program I've ever been associated with.’ Reed said he told the employees early in the program that ‘Saturdays will be the key to this.’ He said that prior to the program, about 11 cabs were manufactured on an average Saturday. However, during the incentive program Saturday production of cabs averaged 49, he said. In fact, Reed said, during the last three weeks of ‘The Crown 2500,’ production averaged 56 cabs daily, with an all-time high of 67. He said that in surpassing the goal it set for itself, the company depended on a steady, constant effort from all its employees. ‘I wish we could give away 170 cars,’ said Reed. ‘You all deserve it,’ he said, referring to employees with perfect attendance records.

“Besides the Thunderbird, a number of other prizes were awarded to Crown employees who qualified under the terms of the incentive program and those who registered for door prizes. There were three different categories for prizes - overtime, attendance effort and salaried. Winners of a trip valued at $1,500 and 10 paid days of vacation were Jacob Mullinex, James Howerter and Dick Maurer. Romeo Wood, Helen Klever and Carol Holland all won color televisions. Radar ranges were won by Larry Pauley, Chester Bender and Betty Ellis. Cash prizes of $200 went to Burton Rogers, Lonnie Hochstetler and Bill Howe, while Paul Ashley, George Sarr and Blane Briggs also won $150. In addition, the company gave away cash awards of $100, $80, $60, $40 and $20. Door prizes were won by: Rodney Marks, color television; Jack Herron, microwave oven; Hillis Fath, charcoal grill Leon Carpenter, woman's watch; Dick Neidert, man's watch.

“Various truck cabs were on display in a picnic area behind Crown's main office building, and employees wandered around looking over the culmination of their handiwork. ‘It sure looks simple when it's all together, doesn't it,’ observed one employee.”

One month later, Allen Electric sold off two off two of its Orrville subsidiaries to the White Motor Co., which up until that time had been one of its largest customers; the August 11, 1977 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent reporting:

“Joint-venture company formed with Allen

“Two Crown Steel plants are sold to White Motors

“Two of the local Crown Steel plants have been sold to the White Motor Corp. of Eastlake for an undisclosed price. Representative s of White and the Allen Group, Inc., which had owned Crown Divisions, made the joint announcement of the sale last week.

“Frank Hyson, president of Crown Divisions, said plants one and two, and the main offices will be renamed the Gemini Manufacturing Co. The new company will be headed by Barry Banducci, who had been directing the Allen Group's truck division.

“Hyson called the sale of part of Crown, ‘A very positive move. We have assured the continued operation of our plant.’ He said no jobs will be affected by the proposed sale. Ed Reed, former general manager of Crown's Orrville and Wooster operations, has been appointed general manager of the new company.

“The terms of the agreement call for White to acquire a 50 per cent interest in a newly-formed, joint-venture company this month. Completion of the sale of Allen's remaining 50 per cent interest is scheduled to take place by the end of 1978. Until that time, the joint-venture plant will be operated under the direction of Allen's management with a board of directors composed of equal numbers of Allen and White executives.

“The Allen Group is headed by Walter B. Kissinger, chairman and president, and S.E. Knudsen is the chairman and chief executive of White. Crown is the sole supplier of truck cabs for White's recently-introduced line of all-welded, aluminum trucks.

“During the six-week period preceding July 4, more than 2,500 of the cabs were shipped to White as the result of a work incentive program designed to meet a heightened demand for the trucks.

“The White Motor Corp. was incorporated on Dec. 23, 1915, as the White Motor Co. Its present name was adopted April 26,1965.

“The company is a leading, independent manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks which are sold under trade names such as ‘White,’ ‘White Western Star,’ ‘Autocar’ and ‘White Freightliner.’ White Motor Corp. also manufacture s farm equipment which sells under the trade names, ‘White,’ ‘Oliver,’ ‘Minneapolis-Moline’ and ‘Cockshutt.’

“In 1975, commercial truck sales accounted for 43 per cent of the company's total sales. Farm equipment sold during that same year totaled about 28 per cent of the overall sales. Net income from continuing operations for the third quarter of 1976 was $1.9 million and sales in the period rose 18 per cent to $295.8 million. The sales of trucks increased 33 per cent to $181.5 million, while the sales of industrial and construction products, and farm equipment fell 29 per cent to S44.6 million and five per cent to $69.6 million, respectively.

“The company has been involved in the manufacture of industrial and construction equipment including diesel, gasoline and natural gas engines for stationary, marine and locomotion applicators, compressors and ‘Euclid’ off-highway dump haulers. However, through a number of recent divestures, much of the industrial and construction division has either been sold or is in the process of being sold as the company returns to its original business as a truck manufacturer.

“As of Dec. 31, 1975, White had 14,746 employees and has an estimated, 25,000 stockholders. In 1976, the company had holdings in Ohio, Pennsylvania. Utah, Idaho, Illinois, Virginia, Indiana, Minnesota. New York, Canada and Australia.”

The deal with White was formally consummated in August of 1977 at which time Crown Steel plants 1 & 2 became Gemini Mfg. Co.'s plants 1 & 2. A small  item in the December 1978 issue of Welding Design & Fabrication mentioned Gemini's Orrville operations:

“Fabrication steel and aluminum sheet on one line. Gemini Manufacturing Co. builds truck cabs, stamping and welding steel and aluminum components with the same machines.

“Even though steel and aluminum possess different forming and welding characteristics, it’s possible to adapt fabricating equipment to handle both. Gemini Manufacturing Co., a fabricating plant in Orrville, Ohio, builds truck cabs of each material on one line, adjusting presses and welding machines to accommodate their differing characteristics. Built for trucks manufactured by White Motor Corporation, these cabs are spot-welded throughout.”

In May of 1981 Swedish heavy truck maker AB Volvo purchased White Motor Co.'s inventory and fixed assets relating to its truck business, including the assembly facilities at New River Valley; Ogden, Utah, and its Gemini Mfg. Corp. subsidiary in Orrville. The reported purchase price was $17 million in cash and $31.1 million in notes. The $17.8 million payment provided Volvo with other assets, consisting primarily of receivables, and Volvo assumed White Motor Co.'s liabilities. AB Volvo merged its exisitng North American operations with Whites, forming the Volvo White Truck Corp. The new operation, which was based in Greensboro, NC, continued to market its Vehicles separatley under the Volvo, White and Autocar trade names.

In 1988 AB Volvo formed a joint venture with General Motors Corp. called Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corp. to manufacture and market trucks under the White GMC and Autocar nameplates. At the time AB Volvo held a 65% interest in the firm with GM retaining a 35% interest.

After the sale of its Orrville divisions to White Motor Co., Allen Electric retained Crown Steel's Vermillion, Ohio Ford upfitting operations, which were briefly mentioned in the August 30, 1990 edition of the Elyria Chronicle Telegram:

“Lorain: Ford slowdown triggers layoffs Lorain — The effects of the slowdown at the Ford Assembly Plant on Baumhart Road have trickled down to satellite businesses that provide services to the plant. About 40 workers at Crown Steel Products have been laid off most of the summer, production manager Laverne Wojtko said. "It happens every year at this time," said Wojtko, adding that 15 people remained on the job during the slow down. "People have been laid off all through the summer, on and off." Crown, a division of the Allen Group, adds customized interiors and detailing to Econoline vans produced at the Baumhart Road plant.”

In 1994 AB Volvo purchased an additional stake in Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corp. giving it an 87% stake to GM's 13% and one year later (1995) the White GMC brand was discontinued and replaced by vehicles wearing Volvo badges.

The May 3, 1994 edition of the New York Times mentioned that Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corp. would be constructing a new truck cab assembly plant in Dublin, Virginia, placing the future of Orrville's cab-manufacturing operations in jeopardy:

“The Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corporation said yesterday that it would invest $200 million in the next five years in a new cab assembly plant and paint shop at its heavy-duty-truck factory in Dublin, Va. The company said the new assembly plant would have an initial capacity of 70 cabs a day, and would eventually produce 110 cabs a day. At full capacity, the new plant would supply the Dublin factory and the company's assembly plant in Orrville, Ohio, with cabs for Class 8 White GMC trucks. Volvo GM Heavy Truck is 87 percent owned by Volvo A.B. and 13 percent owned by the General Motors Corporation.”

Soon afterwards Volvo GM sold its Orrville cab manufacturing plant to American Commercial Vehicles, a subsidiary of Salem, Ohio's AWI Corp. who resumed the production of truck cabs as a subcontractor. Volvo GM retained an adjoining facility which mated the cabs to Volvo and Autocar truck chassis. However as GM Volvo got its new Dublin, Virginia cab plant up and running, they wound down their Orrville operations, forcing ACV's parent company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the April 10, 1996 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal reporting on the Orrville plant's possible closure:

EWI Inc. to Close Five Vehicle Plants Nationwide

“Apr. 10 - The Salem company that bought Volvo GM Heavy Truck's cab operations in Orrville two years ago has told workers there it may sell the plant as part of a corporate-wide restructuring.

“EWI Inc., parent of the former Volvo GM plants, American Commercial Vehicles, is shutting down or has already closed five of its nine manufacturing plants nationwide, including one in Shelby, Ohio.

“The other four, including the two plants in Orrville, which employ about 500 people, may be retained if the company is able to successfully restructure. Or, it could be sold if the restructuring is unsuccessful, the company said.

“‘We have several businesses that have suffered as a result of the downturn in the heavy truck (and) bus market,’ said Ron Whitaker, president and chief executive officer of EWI.”

ACV subsequently relocated the tooling and machinery (turret presses, lasers, and press brakes) necessary for building the Mack MR, LE and Volvo/Autocar cabs from Orrville to its facilities in Shadyside, Ohio, Norwalk, Ohio and Kings Mt., North Carolina.

On October 21, 1996 Volvo GM formally announced the closure of their Orrville operation via the following press release:

“Volvo GM Heavy Truck Consolidates Manufacturing Operations

“Greensboro, N.C., Oct. 17 -- Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corporation announced today that it will consolidate its truck assembly operations into its Dublin, VA, manufacturing complex. The move will result in the closure of its Orrville, OH, truck assembly plant on April 18, 1997. The Orrville plant currently produces 15 trucks per day and has 473 employees, of whom 291 are production workers.

“Volvo GM Heavy Truck recently expanded its Dublin complex with the addition of a cab assembly plant and paint facility, providing a central location for the production of its newly launched Volvo VN Series highway tractors. Included in the expansion and modernization was the addition of a separate assembly line for the company's current products. The consolidation will result in more efficient industrial operations and lower manufacturing costs.

“‘The decision was a difficult one because we have a loyal, skillful work force in Orrville,’ said Marc Gustafson, president and CEO of Volvo GM Heavy Truck, ‘but the savings we will realize from this consolidation are important for our future. Our Dublin complex has the capacity for projected volume requirements, and our investments there make it extremely efficient for the long term. This puts us in a very good competitive position to serve our customers with quality and flexibility from a facility located within a convenient distance of our engineering and design facilities in Greensboro.’

“Volvo truck models currently produced in Orrville include the Xpeditor (R), Autocar (R), WG straight truck, Autohauler, and the FE Series. Normal production at current line rates is anticipated to continue there through April 1997. Production transfer to Dublin will be accomplished in such a way as to ensure uninterrupted availability of high-quality products to dealers and customers.

“The Orrville plant closing will not affect other Volvo operations located in Columbus and Westerville, OH.

“Some employees at the Orrville plant will be offered employment with Volvo at other locations. Company executives will meet with all employees, including the leadership of the United Paperworkers International Local 786, to discuss the effects of the closure.

“Following the cessation of production, a small staff will continue work at the Orrville plant to complete the close-down of the facilities, which will be sold. The shutdown will not affect the operations of two American Commercial Vehicles (ACV) plants in Orrville engaged in the production and painting of cabs for Volvo's current product models. These cabs will be supplied by ACV to the Dublin assembly plant.

“Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corporation manufactures Class 7 and Class 8 Volvo highway tractors and trucks. The company also markets Volvo heavy-duty and mid-range diesel engines, transmissions, and rear suspensions. The company leads the heavy truck industry in the areas of quality manufacturing processes, safety research and development, and environmental care. Volvo GM Heavy Truck, headquartered in Greensboro, NC, is owned 87 percent by Volvo Truck Corporation, Gothenburg, Sweden, and 13 percent by General Motors Corporation. Volvo is the world's second largest producer of heavy trucks.”

Three days later (October 24, 1996) the Akron Beacon Journal announced that a possible buyer had been found for the ACV plant in Orrville:

“Orrville, Ohio - Oct. 24 - A Michigan-based automotive engineering company has offered to buy - and try and keep open - American Commercial Vehicles in Orrville, the operating division of EWI Inc. which in April sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“EGS Inc., a privately held company based in Dearborn, Mich., on Friday filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Canton asking Judge James H. Williams for permission to buy the remaining assets of the American Commercial Vehicles (ACV) truck parts plant, said attorney Craig Martahus, who represents Salem-based EWI.

“The news of potential buyer for ACV is heartening for folks in Orrville who were rocked last week when a neighboring plant, Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corp., closed.

“American Commercial Vehicles (ACV), located in Orrville, Ohio, is a producer of cabs for commercial trucks. Eglin is also an adjunct instructor at Southeastern Business College, teaching accounting business math and dbase.”

In 1997 Volvo bought out GM's remaining 13% interest in Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corp., renaming it Volvo Trucks North America.

Wayne Stamping and Assembly, LCC, a subsidiary of Mayflower Vehicle Systems Inc., subsequently purchased ACV's assets and continued to operate the Orrville plant on a limited scaled into 2001. Unfortunately theMarch 24, 2001 edition of the Wooster Daily Record (OH) announced its Orrville plant was closing for good:

“ACV Is Closing In May; More Than 300 To Lose Jobs by Andrew J. Tonn

“American Commercial Vehicles, the Orrville company that assembles cabs for the heavy truck industry - in particular to Volvo Truck and Mack Truck - will be closing its doors near the end of May.

“This will mean the loss of approximately 265 hourly jobs and 45 salaried positions, according to Bob Vicars, Vice President of Human Resources for Mayflower Vehicle Systems Inc.

“‘The decision has been made to close the Orrville, Ohio, operation formerly known as American Commercial Vehicles,’ said Vicars, reading over the phone from a press release dated March 23. ‘It is expected the plant will close in the latter part of May of this year.’

“‘The company has been in financial trouble for some time. It has been on the market for several months, but no one has come forward showing an interest in purchasing ACV as an ongoing business. Sales in the large truck industry have slowed recently and impacted all suppliers to that industry.’

“‘Wayne Stamping and Assembly, LCC, a subsidiary of Mayflower Vehicle Systems Inc., recently purchased the assets of ACV. Mayflower will absorb the work at the Orrville location into its other facilities where hundreds of employees have been on long-term layoff.’

“‘Those employees at the Orrville, Ohio location, having the requisite skills, who are interested in pursuing employment, will be given priority at any Mayflower Vehicle Systems Inc. location where openings exist.’

“Vicars said that Mayflower has two Ohio plants, Norwalk and Shadyside, Charleston, W.Va., and King's Mountain, N.C.

“John Rohrer, president of Paper Allied Industrial Chemical and Energy Workers Local 5-0785 said workers were served today with the official Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice.

“‘It's a final thing,’ Rohrer said. ‘The work that we have here, they're taking to other facilities.’

“According to Dave Zach of Wooster, a third-shift quality analyst, not all employees would have heard the news on Friday. ‘They (Mayflower) notified the union, not individual employees. I'm sure they posted it on the bulletin board, but the shifts that weren't there wouldn't have seen it.’

“Rohrer read a statement saying, ‘We had hoped that Mayflower's recent acquisition of ACV and this local's bargaining agreement was going to give us long-term employment.’

“‘This was the third ownership change since November of '94. Members of this local have experienced a bankruptcy and nearly a bank foreclosure in the last six-and-a-half years and through it all these people, the members of this local, maintained their pride and their dignity. They continued their commitment to producing a quality product and to meeting our customer's demands which meant devoting long hours and performing tedious tasks.’

“‘We only wish that the businesses would have made that same kind of commitment to these employees. I am proud to have worked with the members of PACE Local 5-0785 and I would tell any and all employers that you will not find a more dedicated workforce.’

“Zech said that many of the ACV workers have already been through plant closings, such as those who worked at Diebold, and that in addition to losing their jobs, employees may also lose the vacation time they have already earned this year.

“‘We earn it each month, but it's not awarded until June 1,’ said Zech. ‘Since they're closing May 31 - at least that's what we've been told - we'll be out of all that, but we haven't fought it yet.’

“Orrville Safety Service Director Becky Jewell, when notified of the closing, said, ‘We will sit down with the company officials with the aim of assisting their workers through this transition. That's our primary goal. Our secondary goal would be to market the facility so it can stay open as a manufacturing plant.’”

The closure of ACV coincided with the death of its predecessor's 91-year-old founder, Julius Fejes, whose obituary follows:

“Orrville - Julius Fejes, 91, 12606 Back Massillon Road,, died Saturday, March 24, 2001, at his residence following a long period of declining health.

“Services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 29, at Augsburg Lutheran Church in Orrville with Pastor Walter Jordan officiating. Burial will take place at Crown Hill Cemetery in Orrville.

“Friends may call Wednesday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at Auble Funeral Home in Orrville where a Masonic service will be held at 6:45 p.m.

“Memorials may be made to Augsburg Lutheran Church Memorial Fund, 140 W. Water St., Orrville 44667 or to Hospice of Wayne County, 2525-A Back Orrville Road, Wooster 44691.

“He was born Feb. 14, 1910, in Cleveland, to Andrew and Judith (Moncol) Fejes and married Bessie R. Walentik on Dec. 4, 1943, also in Cleveland. She died Aug. 20, 1986.

“Surviving are two sons and daughters-in-law, Dean and Linda Fejes of Naples, Fla., and Alan and Debbie Fejes of Orrville, two daughters and sons-in-law, Joyce and James Jelinek and Annette and Terry Dwyer, all of Orrville; eight grandchildren, Steven, Jeffrey, Lisa, Julie, Michael, Sara, Nickolas, and Alan II; six great-grandchildren, Illeana, Pauline, Leah, Jeffrey, Owen, and Annabella, and a half-sister, Louise Roth of Alhambra, Calif.”

In 2006 Orrville resident W. Michael Jarrett, the owner of Jarrett Logistics and PackShip USA, purchased the long-empty American Commercial Vehicles plant No. 1 on Main Street hoping to divide it up for use by small businesses.  During the same year American Commercial Vehicles Plant No. 2 at 1100 N. Elm St., was demolished to make way for the construction of a new $13 million middle school.

In 1990 Allen Electric reorganized the remaining Crown Steel plants as Crown North America. In 1994, the Allen Group spun off its automotive subsidiaries from it electronics business forming TransPro Inc. of which Crown North America was a division. In December of 1997, Crown North America purchased VMS Ltd., a small Canadian van upfitter located in St. Thomas and Oakville, Ontario, reorganizing it as Crown VMS Canada Ltd. On May 5, 2000 TransPro sold Crown North America to Leggett & Platt Inc., a 127-year-old firm with over 19,000 employee-partners in more than 140 locations in 18 countries.

Today Crown North America is headquartered in Apple Creek, Ohio and operated two North American modification facilities, one in Oakville, Ontario near the Oakville Ford Motor Co. facility and second in Chicago, Illinois near Ford's Hegewisch assembly plant - see:

© 2015 Mark Theobald for








Sleeper Rigs of the 50's, Wheels of Time, Vol 7. No.4 Jul-Aug. 1986 issue

Conventional Integral Sleeper Cabs, Wheels of Time, Vol 9. No.1 Jan-Feb. 1988 issue

Frank Farrar – The Cab Makers From Orrville, Wheels of Time, Vol. 25, No. 6; November-December 2004 issue

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