Between 1928 and 2001 the town of Orrville,
Ohio, was home
to two related firms that supplied day cabs, sleeper cabs and quad
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;
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
first, Orville Body Co. is
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,
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
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
Co., his listing in the 1935 Cleveland directory lists his occupation
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
sleeper cab sheet metal, Fejes began supplying additional stamped steel
parts using a metal stamping press of his own design.
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
Orrville Southern road that morning at 10 o’clock in which a coal truck
Freidt was driving struck two automobile, one the Buick sedan owned by
“Fejes, who was headed north, had stopped
the right side
of the road, pulling off as far as he could, to wave down the driver of
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
could pass between them, and the Body Company driver waved a car which
E. Welty following him, driven by George C. Riggenbach of Sterling, to
As Riggenbach started to pass the two vehicles, however, Friedt's
north, hove in view. It was too late for Riggenbach to stop and Friedt
stop, either, with the result that the car and the coal truck both
pass through one narrow opening in the road at the same time. Damages
at $350 were done to Fejes’ sedan while Rigenbach estimated the damages
machine at $125.
“The accident happened near the
farm, where the
road makes a slight dip. Friedt admitted the statement of a state
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
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
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
Steel Products Company of which Julius Fejes is president, on North
just outside the corporation limit, a spokesman for the company
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
bodies, and from the beginning it has occupied quarters in the building
Riceland owned by Thomas E. Rice. Equipment assembled and used there
moved to the new plant when it is built, estimated now to be sometime
“The property being used lies on the east
side of Route 94,
a little distance north of where the back Smithville road enters North
street. It is sufficient in size to permit setting the office building
feet from the sidewalk line, a driveway circling the plant, and space
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
concrete blocks, with steel super-structure for the roof and overhead
walks. Only four posts will be used inside the building. In front of
and separated from it although connected by a covered passage, will be
office building 20 feet wide by 100 feet long. This will also be
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
doorway height. About 20 feet of the center portion of the front will
projected to add to the architectural attractiveness of the building
roominess of the reception space.
“Plans for the two buildings, with ground
indicate that it will be one of the most modern and attractive
plants in this vicinity. Manufacturing space will be just about doubled
new plant over the old, while the office building will add 2,000 more
feet to the quarters that will be available.
“Mr. Fejes, a top-flight engineer as well
worker in pressed meta l products, is particularly enthusiastic about
building since the virtually unobstructed interior of the main plant
permit of a smooth flow of work from stock-room to shipping dock.
“Crown Steel has operated steadily from
day it began
work and gives employment to 15 full time shop employees, a figure that
Fejes expects will be increased in the new plant. Al and Wallace
superintendent and sales manager, respectively, of the Orrville Body
are associated with Mr. Fejes in Crown Steel. Contractor John LeChot is
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
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
“Death came almost instantly Saturday a
afternoon to Alvin C. Vetter, 45, vice president and general manager of
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
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
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
Mr. and Mrs.
George Vetter, Al graduated from Lakewood High School and took an
course at night school. He was employed as an engineer by White Motor
when he accepted a call to come here as plant manager of the Body
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
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
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
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
his business often 12 and 14 hours a day, he had a sincerity and
drew men to him and made him widely known.
“His sudden passing left the community
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
“Mr. Vetter was a member of the First
of Cedar Lodge No.430, F.&A.M., the Stark Consistory and Al Koran
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.
officiating. Burial will be in Lakewood Par k Cemetery, Cleveland, with
and Gresser in charge of arrangements. Friends may call at the home
The March 7, 1949 edition of the Orrville
Courier Crescent announced that Crown Steel was building a new office
“Crown Steel Has Office Building In
“Crown Steel Products, which occupied its
fine new plant on
North Main street last year, is now proceeding to complete the building
as drawn by the architects by erecting a 20 by 100 foot office
fronts 200 feet on North Main street and extends 100 feet in depth.
John LeChot, who built the plant, is building the office structure.
“Laid up with buff exterior walls the
be separated from the plant so as to give light on both sides, but will
connected to the plant with a corridor in the center. When completed,
not only give the company greatly needed office space, but will enhance
appearance of the building layout.
“As a temporary expedient, the company has
been using space
in the main plant for its offices.”
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
for the Western Electric Company, for use by the Bell Telephone System.
ladder swings in a full circle when extended to its maximum of 21 feet,
is hinged in the middle to swing: a lineman close to his ' work above
“Julius Fejes, president of the Crown
Company, climbed up in the air Thursday and gave a great shout. And
climbed down, Bob Seiwert, sales manager for the company, did the same
They were celebrating, in an eminently fitting way, the completion of
of 300 aluminum ladders which the company is making for the Western
Company for use on trucks operated by various operating companies of
“As everyone knows, linemen need ladders
get to their
Work, and also climbing irons, but it has only been in recent years
have been able to climb easily and quickly, without carrying ladders
from the bed' of a truck to the lines they take care of. That was after
wooden ladders were developed for mounting on trucks.
“So far, few of them have ever climbed an
but that will not be true long. For the new aluminum extension device
Crown Steel is making to put men in the air all over the country will
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
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
else, and could do it faster, he set up his own operation to feed the
the Body Company. Later the operations were extended to include other
steel products for truck cabs and bodies.
“Then, last year, the company, having
built its new plant on North Main street, a 20,000 square foot steel
concrete block structure, and Mr. Seiwert joined the staff and started
for more work.
“He called on Western Electric in New
company furnishes thousands of trucks and buys the truck bodies for
the Bell System. There was nothing doing, he was told, except that the
was taking bids within a week on ‘this thing.’ That was an aluminum
ladder, to be mounted in a standard telephone maintenance-truck body.
“‘You don't make ladders, do you?’ the
don't know,’ Mr. Seiwert replied. ‘Maybe we do. Let me have a set of
and we'll find out.’ The result was that Crown Steel, after putting its
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
job. Undismayed by the word that drifted in from the trade that an
outfit had spent $30,000 tooling up to make a similar ladder, the Crown
men took the purchase order and went to work. The result, as aforesaid,
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
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
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
and Diamond T/Diamond Reo truck line as well.
Another Crown Steel customer was the
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,
Crown subsidiary in 1958 after being formed in 1953 Eugene Rake, Donald
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
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
into Wooster, according to an announcement made Friday by Julius Fejes,
president of Crown Steel Products Co. Crown Steel's purchase of the
United Steel Fabricators corporation could be a real boon to the
development of Wayne County. Growing industry and new industry mean a
“United Steel Fabricators reached its
during World War II when approximately 800 employees were turning out
landing mats, Quonset huts, pontoon bridges, ammunition dumps and
snakes. At the present time, an average of 350 employees at Fabricators
mainly widely used peacetime products. About 350 persons work at Crown
in Orrville, United Steel Fabricators is now part of the Crown Steel
which includes Orrville Metal Specialty, Flo-Tork and D.E.K. Management
these companies is very optimistic about the future industrial;
since the personnel will be able to share ideas and work while seeking
avenues of development.
“In an era where industries seek
week's acquisition paints a healthy picture. Management and operation
of U. S.
Fabricators will remain the same as it has been, according 'which
added, ‘there will be no change among employees.
“Mr. Fejes said he and his associates hope
to continue the
team effort which has played an important part in the growth of Crown
its related companies, and to carry such efforts over into operation of
addition. He said he has been very favorably impressed with United
Fabricators Inc. personnel and realizes success and growth of that
be attributed in a large part to its Engineering Department and sales
organization. Management of Fabricators in eludes W. C. ‘Bill’ Martin,
Thomas Henderson, Joseph Keefe, and Larry Bloetscher. Fabricators
170,000 feet of floor space on 13 1/2 acres between High and Gasche
Wooster. Crown Steel companies have a combined total of 300,000 square
floor space 011 42 acres in 'Orrville. Sees Wayne Co. Benefit Board of
Directors of the Fabricators included Ceylon Hudson, chairman: Walter
Leo Klise; David Taggert; and W.C. Martin, Jr.
“W. C. Martin, Sr. was president of the
his death in 1957; Walter Lockei from 1957 to 1959 and W. C. Martin
been at the helm since that date. Management of Crown Steel Products
subsidiaries includes Julius Fejes, president and general manager; John
Halloran, executive vice president, Roger ??? vice president in charge
engineering; Gene Hannie, manager of D. E. K. and vice president in
research and development; and Harold C. Kropf, secretary and treasurer.
Steel Fabricators was founded in 1939 by a group of Republic Steel Co.
executives including Julius Kahn, W.C. Martin, Jr., Keith McLeod and
Its primary purpose was to manufacture heavy special engineering
“With the help of local capital, the
expanded. Participating groups including the Kemrow Co., the Klise
Walter Locker; Ceylon Hudson, J.D. Overholt, D.A. Taggert, and the late
Sanborn shared in its growth.
“Fabricators' shareholders purchased the
Gasche Street plant
from the United Engineering and Foundry Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa.,
heavy rolling machinery equipment.
“Once Owned By Japanese
“In 1939, Japanese interests negotiated
purchase of this
plant and planned to move it to Japan, but then a group of
people of Wooster changed the plans. The loss of a major industry in
looked serious, and so the Wooster Board of Trade stepped in. After
of negotiations, the Japanese interests agreed to sell the buildings
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.,
many war products for which it was awarded the Army and Navy ‘E’ Award.
“After the war. Fabricators was one of the
to produce curtain wall panels which have revolutionized the
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
guard rails, bridge flooring and special engineering items.
“Research and development efforts in
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
1947. Flo-Tork was incorporated in 1957 as a wholly owned subsidiary of
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
other sea-going vessels. The actuator is also an integral part of every
missile launching mechanism.
“D.E.K. produces many fiberglass products
bowling alley equipment (seats, benches, AMF pinspotter components),
sleeper cabs, engine covers, fenders and package-delivery bodies for
truck and vehicle manufacturers.
“Orrville Metal Specialty is now the
known builder of all-steel sleeper and special cabs for truck and earth
manufacturers in the U.S.
“Crown Steel, the ‘mother’ company,
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
been truck bodies and equipment for utility companies, along with cabs
parts for manufacturers of earth-moving equipment.
“Operations of United Steel Fabricators
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
“Ford Gets $12 Million Contract, By Jack
“Lorain, O. - The largest overall contract
ever awarded by
the Federal Government for economy buses and trucks today went to the
Ford Division Assembly Plant. Calling for $12 million worth of
series of three contracts provides for 977 Econoline vans, 694 Falcon
wagons, 954 B-500 buses and 266 Econoline truck-ambulances. The
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
three-series contract was for $4 million and included the B-500 buses
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
be handled by
the new Orrville Metals Specialty Co., Vermilion. This is the first
order received by the company since its opening earlier this week. The
crew will be responsible for converting the vehicles into operating
by the installation of special fittings for cots, medical cabinets and
“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
“In addition to the Army contract the
has received an
order from RCA for 734 trucks which will be filled later this year.
and installation of special equipment will be included in this contract
‘If orders continue to flow like this a second building, equal in size
present structure, will be built,’ said Crown Products Sales Manager
Brewster. Contracting for the plant was done by the United Steel
Co., Wooster, Ohio.”
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,
Rhodes visited our community to present an informal, non-political talk
the future of industry in the immediate area as well as throughout the
Orrville is unique for a city of its size (approximate population of
7,000) in the breadth of its diversified industry. 'Products
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
“Crown Steel Products
“Crown Steel Products Co., located on
Main Street, has
three subsidiary plants. D.E.K. Manufacturing Co., Flo-Tork, Inc. and
Metal Specialty Co. Crown Steel was founded in 1940 by Julius Fejes,
that time has undergone five expansions. Its space has increased from
over 100,000 square feet. Crown Steel's principal products are metal
used in the truck, automobile, utility and related fields.
“Largest-known manufacturer of all steel
sleeper and special
cabs for trucks and earth mover manufacturers is Orrville Metal
plant is located at the intersection of North Elm Street and Smithville
The company, incorporated in 1947, became a wholly-owned subsidiary of
Steel in 1955.
“Flo-Tork manufactures rotary actuators
industry, and in 1961, produced the only leakproof rotary actuator
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 produces a colorful
fiberglass products including bowling alley equipment, such as seats
benches, AMF pin spotter components, sleeper cab parts, engine covers,
and package-delivery bodies for motor vehicles. The company, founded in
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
parts for floor sweepers, automatic bowling pin-setter equipment,
chutes, conveyor belt equipment, accessories for trucks and cars and
fabricated and fiberglass molded furnishings. The plant, located on
Street, was founded by John LeChot in 1928. Since its founding,
Co. has undergone several major expansion programs. It employs 271.
“Officers are Mr. LeChot, - president and
Thomas, executive vice president and secretary; A.S. Pezoldt, vice
arid general manager; C. E. Lotz, vice president and assistant
W. B. Taylor, comptroller and assistant treasurer.
“The Will-Burt Co., located on South Main
founded in 1894. It came to Orrville in 1901 and has grown large from a
beginning. Plant No. 3 has just recently been opened and will be in
soon. Products of Will-Burt are heat tag equipment (stokers and
space heaters), automatic sand-blasting machines and the Versa-Vise.
are William B. Baer, president and general manager; W. Harrold Johnson,
president of manufacturing and secretary, and E. G. Baer, chairman of
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
Co. announced on
Tuesday that a 54 by 200-foot general office building and a 60 by
experimental department building is being built on land recently
Karl Royer. The 132-acre plot, located on Ohio 94, across from the
plant, is currently being excavated by Nussbaum Construction Co. of
“The general office building will include
offices for the
engineering, sales, purchasing, accounting and material controls
as well as provisions for main offices for the executive personnel. The
drawn up by Cox, Forsythe and Associates of Canton, have been approved
board, and construction is scheduled to begin as soon as possible.
hope that the office building will be ready for partial occupancy
“The one-story office building also will
contain a full
basement which will be used to house company records and blueprints.
“The experimental building, which will
adjoin the office
building, will be used for experiments and research in the development
“Julius Fejes, president of the company,
stated that, ‘The
principal reasons for acquiring the farm and proceeding at once to
the buildings is to better enable the company to serve our customers.
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
facilities for a "fully-equipped experimental department which will
the company to not only develop new products, but improve those which
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
$250,563 in a
petition against the Crown Steel Products Co., filed Friday in the
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
Hannie alleges in his petition that he entered into a written agreement
December 15, 1958, to transfer his ownership of the stock of DEK
Co., of which he was president and manager, to Crown Steel for 3.5 per
the stock of Crown Steel and the employment by Crown Steel for five
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
Crown Steel to renew the employment for an additional five years and to
Hannie's stocks if Crown Steel should fail to renew his employment.
“According to the petition, the price to
paid shall be
the amount obtained when $100,000 multiplied by a fraction, the
which is the book value at the time of such sale and the denominator of
is the present book value at the nearest accounting period, determined
“Mr. Hannie claims that after his
ending December 15, 1963, his contract has not been renewed, and that
Steel has refused to buy his stock holdings at the price set forth in
agreement. Mr. Hannie claims that the book value of the stock as
independent auditors increased from $3.40 to $7.49 per share during the
of December 15, 1958, to December 15, 1963. He says that the amount to
on his holding should be $220,294.12.
“In his second cause of action, Mr. Hannie
during his five-year period of employment, although he was paid at
$15,000 a year, Crown Steel failed to pay him bonuses and fringe
which he claims amounts to $30,269.24.
“Mr. Hannies petition was filed through
attorneys David A.
Funk and F. Emerson Logee.”
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
“Purchase Of Mississippi Plant Gives Grown
“Julius Fejes, president and general
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
wholly-owned subsidiary of United Steel Fabricators Inc., of Wooster,
been formed to permit the Wooster company to establish a wider southern
“Products of the company will include
metal doors and
frames, bodies for the automotive industry, and services for custom
of sheet metal for many industrial uses. Mr. Fejes said expansion of
company's operations and operation of Crown Steel Products Co. and its
subsidiaries into southern market areas has been an objective of the
and directors of the company for several years.
“Prior to establishment of the Southern
United Steel Fabricators products had been shipped from the Wooster
new plant will operate in about 63,000 square feet of floor space and
available a full flush standard hollow metal door and frame
priced .for customers in the southern section of the country.
“The new company will engage in full-scale
panel products, including blackboards for educational institutions and
trade. Also included will be steel and aluminum bodies for the
industry which are under design by engineers.
“William McKinstry, former plant
manager of the
USF plant in Wooster, has been appointed manager of the southern firm.
had considerable experience in fabrication of the proprietary products
parent company and hollow metal doors and frames.
“The Wooster company was organized about
years ago as a
fabricator for highway guard rails, bridge decking and culvert pipe.
product line has expanded to include metal buildings, doors and frames,
tractors, bodies for the automotive industry, piece parts for
industry and a wide variety of other products from sheet metal for
industrial and. automotive uses. Further expansion into these and other
is planned at the southern plant.
“The Wooster firm became a subsidiary of
Crown Steel in
1962. Sales and general administration offices for the new Southern
will be consolidated at the Orrville offices with offices of the entire
Steel Metal Specialty, Inc., D.E.K. Manufacturing, United Steel
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.
been purchased by Crown Steel Products Co. Julius Fejes, president of
Steel, announced that directors authorized the purchase. Mr. Fejes said
operations will continue under the present management as a separate
Crown Steel Products Co. The reason for this is so that customers of
Tool and Mfg. Co. will receive the same services and work as in the
facilities will be expanded as soon as possible to include additional
with the expectation of providing more varied and better services.
is located across the street from United Steel Fabricators of Wooster
engaged in the manufacture of tools, dies, jigs and fixtures and custom
work. The plant consists of approximately 25,000 square feet production
and employs 45.”
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
“Crown Steel Products Co., employer of
than 950 persons
in Orrville, Wooster and Drew, Miss., will be sold to Allen Electric
Equipment Co. of Kalamazoo, Mich., according to an announcement Monday
Julius Fejes, president of Crown Steel, and Henry Kohorn, president of
“Allen Electric, a company approximately
same size as
Crown Steel, is listed on the Midwest Stock Exchange. Agreement in
has been reached for the acquisition by Allen of all assets, property
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
according to Harold Kropf, legal adviser. Consolidated sales of Crown
Products were approximately $15 million for the calendar year 1966.
wholly owned subsidiaries, Crown Steel Products is a manufacturer of
cabs and bodies for leading automotive manufacturers and utility
rotary hydraulic actuators and a broad line of highway construction
accessories, bridge components and sheet metal buildings.
“It was emphasized that consummation of
subject to approval of a definitive agreement by directors and
Crown Steel and of Allen Electric, the approval of Allen Electric's
institutional investor's and completion of the financing incident to
“It is anticipated that, if the necessary
obtained, completion of the acquisition will be consummated in July. No
in operating policies and personnel are contemplated. Crown Steel and
subsidiaries include D.E.K. Manufacturing Co. and Flo-Tork Corp, both
Orrville; United Steel Fabricators, Wooster, and Southern United Steel
Fabricators, Drew, Miss., M and H Tool Co. of Wooster is a division.
approximately 950 persons employed within the Crown Steel organization.
“Critchfield law firm of Wooster is
arrangements of the transaction for Crown Steel. Allen Electric &
traded on the Midwest Stock Exchange, closed Monday at 28, less than a
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
of $2.6 million. Capitalization consists of term debt of $5.2 million,
shares of preferred stock and 720,000 shares of common stock.”
Steel Products also manufactured a line of 10-12 hp farm tractors for
export to developing countries. The May 25, 1967 edition of the
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'
“William van der Steen, design engineer at
Products Co., demonstrated the new LSF small farm tractor produced by
for three visitors from Greece Wednesday morning at the company's main
North Main Street.
“Mark Mastrandrens of Athens, Greece, made
through the US State Department for two farmers from the Island of
visit the local plant. Bill Sakrika and George Kahramanis are now
the U.S. on work visas to study farm management and the agricultural
the States. The two progressive farmers came to the United States on
without help of government support. T h e small tractor demonstrated
is powered with a 10-12 horsepower engine and is
suitable for the 30- to 50- acre farms in Greece. Using
fuel, the tractor is sturdily built so that only minimum maintenance is
required. Repairs needed are those which farmers are able to make
Priced at about $1,000 in U. S. currency, the tractors sell in Greece
about 45,000 drachmas. According to Mr. Mastrandrens, who will be agent
tractors in his country, farmers can obtain a subsidy from the
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
Courier Crescent reporting:
“Check for $5 Million Seals Deal As Allen
“In a brief ceremony Tuesday at the
National Bank and Trust Co. of Chicago, Allen Electric and Equipment
President Henry Kohorn handed a check for $5 million to Julius Fejes,
of Crown Steel Products Co., in connection with Allen's acquisition of
Steel. An acquisition agreement between the companies was announced in
“Terms of the purchase also include
common shares of
Allen Electric and $1.5 million in Allen notes.
“Consolidated sales of Crown Steel
in 1966 were
approximately $15 million. The firm and its subsidiaries manufacture
cabs and bodies, a line of highway products such as guard rails, bridge
flooring and culvert pipe, hydraulic rotary actuators and
“Mr. Kohorn stated today that the merger
Incorporated into Allen Electric became effective July 13. Allen is
72,000 common shares in exchange for all the outstanding shares of the
Plainview, N.Y. maker of electronic timers and related products for
and commercial applications.
“Officers of Crown Steel Products in
for transfer of
the company to Allen Electric beside Mr. Fejes were, Atty. Harold C.
secretary-treasurer, and Roger Berkey, vice president in charge of
development. John C. Johnston and Lincoln Oviatt of the Critchfield law
Wooster, which handled and represented Crown Steel as counsel were also
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 divisions of Allen
Electric and Equipment
Co., operated locally under the Crown Steel Products and subsidiaries
have been announced by President Henry Kohorn in Chicago.
“Fred J. Lincoln has been appointed vice
treasurer of all the Crown divisions. He had served as regional
was recently appointed vice president of Allen Electric.
“Mr. Lincoln, a certified public
is a graduate
of Michigan State University, and is currently residing with his family
Saginaw, Mich. Mr. a n d Mrs. Lincoln and three daughters plan to move
city in June.
“Chester W. Anderson was appointed
and general manager of Crown Steel and D. E. K. Manufacturing
full responsibility for sales, engineering and production. He has 34
experience in the truck manufacturing business, having served in
executive capacities during those years, Most of the time, he was
with International Harvester, but also spent four years as vice
manufacturing at Trailmobile Division of Pullman, Inc. and four years
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
“In heading, up operations of United Steel
Wooster and Southern U.S.F., Inc., of Drew, Miss., Allen Electric has
Donald C. Collier to the position of vice president and general
Collier came to Crown Steel in the Fall of 1966 as works manager,
served in various manufacturing assignments in his 32 years of service
Euclid Division of General Motors Corp.
“Mr. and Mrs. Collier and two children
presently reside in
“Mr. Kohom stated further that he was
that Julius Fejes has consented to continue as president of Crown Steel
other divisions in advisory and consulting capacities.
“Harold C. Kropf, who is a director of
continue in his position as vice president of Allen Electric for Crown
Products. He has been actively associated with Crown for the past 22
“Merle R. Moser of this city will continue
in his official
capacity as controller and in full charge of the accounting department
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
promoted to manager of engineering, research and development. Crown
division of The Allen Electric and Equipment Co., is a leading
truck cabs, cab components and special van interiors. Mr. Barth joined
Jan. 1, 1955 as chief engineer. He previously had served in draftsman
engineering capacities for Mack Trucks, The Budd Co. and the Autocar
of White Motor. A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Mr. Barth was graduated
Franklin and Marshall Academy, Lancaster, Pa„ and attended the Penn
Extension University. He is a member of the American Society of Body
Mr. Barth is married, the father of two sons and resides at 148 Smucker
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
“The Crown Steel Products Division of
Equipment Co. has established a Canadian company and opened a new
foot plant at Clarkson, Ontario. Crown Steel will operate its new
division as CrownFab of Canada Ltd. The new facility has started
operations. Mr. Anderson states that all employment will be obtained
Oakville area and that the source of materials and fabrications will be
this area wherever possible. The CrownFab plant will modify original -
equipment truck cabs to meet customer specifications and will produce
automotive equipment. It is one of several Allen Electric and Equipment
affiliates with facilities in Canada serving the automotive and
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
“D.E.K. Mfg., Charges Name
“D.E.K. Mfg., a separate operation of
Division for many years and for the last year a division of Allen
Equipment Co., of Chicago, has changed its name to Crown Fiber Glass.
“The newly-named firm became part of Allen
Allen acquired Crown Steel in 1967. The Canton advertising agent of
Koons Inc. has landed the firm's account along with four other Allen
in the Akron area: Crown Steel Products, Crown Fab of Canada Ltd. and
all headquartered in Orrville.”
The December 26, 1969 edition of the Elyria
Chronicle Telegram announced the expansion of Crown Steel's plant in
“The Crown Steel Products Division of
Equipment Co. is expanding its Lorain plant by more than 150 per cent,
78,000 square feet. The Orrville-based firm on Baumhart Road buys
vans from Ford, its next-door neighbor, then customizes them for use by
men and on-the-spot salesmen. Completion of the enlargement, probably
1, will enable the company to employ 150 persons, and as many as 300 by
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
of Allen Electric and Equipment Co., announced Monday afternoon the
of Paul D. Gilliland as Group Vice President for Allen's Crown Group
which is headquartered in Orrville. Gilliland was previously Vice
Divisional General Manager of the Roper Corporation in Kankakee,
new vice president has had over 20 years experience in manufacturing
general industrial management, including 10 - years experience in the
automotive industry. Crown Steel Products was founded in 1940 and
in 1947, It remained locally owned until 1967 when Allen Electric and
Co. of Chicago purchased Crown Steel and all of its subsidiaries. The
group is now a division of Allen Electric and consists of manufacturing
facilities in Orrville, Lorain, Wooster and Vermillion, Ohio and
Ontario. Mr. Gilliland will be in charge of these plants. The Crown
specializes in steel and fiberglass truck cabs and body components for
and off the road truck industry. They also manufacture custom
interiors and specially fabricated parts for the communications
Commenting on his move to Orrville, Gilliland noted that he was looking
to coming back to a small town (Kankakee is a city of 75,000) although
stated that he ‘did not know a thing about Orrville except it was a
7,500. Crown being in Orrville did not influence my decision to come to
he added. Gilliland is a graduate of Purdue University, and served in
during World War II. The 48 year old executive is married, and has
children. He and his wife, Wilma, plan to move to Orrville in the near
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
the Crown group
of Allen Electric and Equipment Co., has announced recent promotions of
employes. C. W. Anderson, executive vice president of Crown Steel
Orrville, has, in addition, been named president of CrownFab Canada
Clarkson, Ont. Gilliland said Anderson's positions will put him in
charge at CrownFab and he will remain in charge of research and
sales, marketing and engineering at Crown Steel Products. Heading
marketing operation and investigation of new marketing areas, Duane N.
Backstrom has been named to the newly created position of general
marketing for Crown Steel Products of Orrville and Crown Fab of Canada
Also receiving a promotion was D. J. Bowers, who was promoted to the
of general manager of Crown Steel Products here. Bowers will be in
the three plants in Orrville and one in Lorain. This will include
responsibilities of quality control, personnel, industrial, engineering
manufacturing operations. Anderson had been a works manager for
Harvester and Brockway Motor Trucks and vice president of manufacturing
Trailmobile before joining Crown in 1967. He and his wife, Julianne,
children. Backstrom attended the University of Pittsburgh, and has been
Crown since 1964 in various positions, including project engineer,
manager and sales manager. He and his wife, Cheryl, have three
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
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
the Crown group
of Allen Electric and Equipment Co., has announced promotions of three
employees. E.H. Rudd has been named general manager of United Steel
Fabricators, Wooster, and will have responsibility over quality
and industrial engineering, as well as manufacturing operations. Vice
of finance for the Crown group of Allen Electric and Equipment is Harry
who will direct financial and accounting operations for all divisions
Crown group — Crown Steel Products, Crown Fiber Glass. CrownFab of
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
doors and frames, highway products and special products division of
Steel. Before joining Crown in 1967, he was works manager for
Harvester, works manager for Brockway Motor Trucks and vice
for Trailmobile. He and wife, Julianne, have three children, Gary and
both married, and Richard, 10. Hodge is a native of Scotland, and
from Lane Technical High School, Chicago. He earned his BA degree in
from Northwestern University. He and his wife, Edith, have three
presently live in Kankakee, Ill., but plan to move to the Orrville area
Rudd, an Ohio University graduate, has previously been with Eaton
Manufacturing, Euclid Division of GMC and Crown Steel Products. He and
wife, Marybelle, have two daughter, Lorrie, 13, and Judy, 10. They live
Sunrise View Dr., Wooster.”
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
manager of the Crown Group's Crown Steel Products Division, Crown Fiber
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.
will be in charge of six plants: three in Orrville, one in Lorain, one
Clarkson, Ontario, and one in Warren, Mich. In his new position, he
responsible for functions of quality control, production control,
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
Betty, have two children, Kathy, who is married, and Susan, a junior at
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
engineering research and development. Gilliland stated that Barth will
responsible for all engineering functions, including research and
activities for Crown Steel Products Division, Crown Fiber Glass
CrownFab of Canada, Ltd., Truck Specialties Division and U. S. Steel
“A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Barth
State University. Prior to joining Crown in 1955 as chief engineer he
employed by the Autocar Division of White Motor Co. He is a member of
Society of Automotive Engineers, American Society of Body Engineers and
Orrville Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife, Frances, have two
Richard and Donald. The Barths live at 148 Smucker St.”
For two decades Crown Steel’s Orrville Metal
subsidiary constructed White Motor’s Autocar ‘Driver's Cab’ which
graced all of White's vehicles (Whites, Autocars and Western Star). In
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
CAPTION - “Does the person at the left
remind you a world
famous statesman? He should. The man pictured Is Walter Kissinger,
former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. And Walter Kissinger was in
Saturday on a sort of diplomatic mission of his own. Kissinger, the
and chairman of the Allen Group, Inc. came to say 'thank you' to the
Crown Steel employes who participated in the company's incentive
program. Helping draw the winning tickets for a variety of prizes was
Kissinger's daughter, while Gerald Dianiska, Crown's director of
relations, assists her.
“Crown Steel throws a 'victory' party to
its production goal by Barb Brucker
“Congratulations were the order of the day
employees of Crown Divisions of the Allen Group, Inc. celebrated the
of an incentive program which resulted in the production of more than
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
caliber that ‘even Vince Lombardi would have been inspired.’ The
production program - dubbed ‘The Crown 2500’ - was for the six-week
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
addition to the incentive program, Crown also hired 150+ new employees
Orrville facilities and operated both plants around-the-clock, six days
to meet the deadline.
“Saturday, the Orrville plants' employees
and those from
Crown's Wooster operation turned out for a large company party. Between
and 3,000 persons - including employees and their families - were
attend festivities which included a catered lunch, a Dixieland band,
entertainment for the children and drawings for prizes such as a 1977
“To be eligible to win the Thunderbird, an
employee had to
have a perfect attendance record and must have worked every Saturday
six-week period. The big winner was Jack Pearson of Wadsworth, a Crown
for three months. ‘I'm real surprised,’ said Pearson. ‘I'm real
all worked hard, but I'm glad I got it.’ He said that on his way to the
celebration, he had jokingly told his wife, Jeanne, that she could
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,
p.m. on July 1. The total shipment of cabs sent to White Motor Corp.
“He characterized the cooperation of the
Crown employees as
‘outstanding, super. We're very, very happy. It's been as successful as
could have possibly hoped.’ Brian Kay, chairman of the celebration,
that ‘the attitude and enthusiasm of the employees at both plants has
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
to add their congratulations.
“Walter B. Kissinger, chairman and
of the Allen
Group, Inc., told the employees that he wanted to ‘express my personal
for what you have achieved. When we got started in May, many skeptics
think we could come through,’ said Kissinger. However, he said that
program was in operation, ‘I never had any doubt that you would come
Kissinger said that people working toward a common goal and achieve
things. It's ultimately the human spirit which makes things happen.
fun to spend this day with you,’ he said. ‘All of us will look back on
achievement with great pride.’
“Barry Banducci, who heads the Allen
said, ‘It is fitting and right to give our prizes. I have never been
with a more fitting, accomplishment oriented people in my life. ‘You're
winners and I thank you.’ The president of Crown Divisions also had
for the employees. Frank Hyson told the group, ‘I am proud of this
accomplishment one day ahead of schedule. This is the result of Crown's
teamwork - an outstanding work force, experienced supervision and
and administrative staff support.’
“Ed Reed, the general manager of Crown's
Wooster operations termed the prize drawings ‘a very fitting climax to
impressive program I've ever been associated with.’ Reed said he told
employees early in the program that ‘Saturdays will be the key to
said that prior to the program, about 11 cabs were manufactured on an
Saturday. However, during the incentive program Saturday production of
averaged 49, he said. In fact, Reed said, during the last three weeks
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
cars,’ said Reed. ‘You all deserve it,’ he said, referring to employees
perfect attendance records.
“Besides the Thunderbird, a number of
awarded to Crown employees who qualified under the terms of the
program and those who registered for door prizes. There were three
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,
Howerter and Dick Maurer. Romeo Wood, Helen Klever and Carol Holland
color televisions. Radar ranges were won by Larry Pauley, Chester
Betty Ellis. Cash prizes of $200 went to Burton Rogers, Lonnie
Bill Howe, while Paul Ashley, George Sarr and Blane Briggs also won
addition, the company gave away cash awards of $100, $80, $60, $40 and
Door prizes were won by: Rodney Marks, color television; Jack Herron,
oven; Hillis Fath, charcoal grill Leon Carpenter, woman's watch; Dick
“Various truck cabs were on display in a
picnic area behind
Crown's main office building, and employees wandered around looking
culmination of their handiwork. ‘It sure looks simple when it's all
doesn't it,’ observed one employee.”
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
Courier Crescent reporting:
“Joint-venture company formed with Allen
“Two Crown Steel plants are sold to White
“Two of the local Crown Steel plants have
been sold to the
White Motor Corp. of Eastlake for an undisclosed price. Representative
White and the Allen Group, Inc., which had owned Crown Divisions, made
joint announcement of the sale last week.
“Frank Hyson, president of
Divisions, said plants one and two, and the main offices will be
Gemini Manufacturing Co. The new company will be headed by Barry
had been directing the Allen Group's truck division.
“Hyson called the
part of Crown, ‘A very positive move. We have assured the continued
of our plant.’ He said no jobs will be affected by the proposed sale.
former general manager of Crown's Orrville and Wooster operations, has
appointed general manager of the new company.
“The terms of the
for White to acquire a 50 per cent interest in a newly-formed,
company this month. Completion of the sale of Allen's remaining 50 per
interest is scheduled to take place by the end of 1978. Until that
joint-venture plant will be operated under the direction of Allen's
with a board of directors composed of equal numbers of Allen and White
“The Allen Group is headed by Walter B.
president, and S.E. Knudsen is the chairman and chief executive of
is the sole supplier of truck cabs for White's recently-introduced line
all-welded, aluminum trucks.
“During the six-week period preceding July
than 2,500 of the cabs were shipped to White as the result of a work
program designed to meet a heightened demand for the trucks.
Corp. was incorporated on Dec. 23, 1915, as the White Motor Co. Its
name was adopted April 26,1965.
“The company is a leading, independent
manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks which are sold under trade names such
‘White,’ ‘White Western Star,’ ‘Autocar’ and ‘White Freightliner.’
Corp. also manufacture s farm equipment which sells under the trade
‘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
about 28 per cent of the overall sales. Net income from continuing
for the third quarter of 1976 was $1.9 million and sales in the period
per cent to $295.8 million. The sales of trucks increased 33 per cent
million, while the sales of industrial and construction products, and
equipment fell 29 per cent to S44.6 million and five per cent to $69.6
“The company has been involved in the
industrial and construction equipment including diesel, gasoline and
gas engines for stationary, marine and locomotion applicators,
‘Euclid’ off-highway dump haulers. However, through a number of recent
divestures, much of the industrial and construction division has either
sold or is in the process of being sold as the company returns to its
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
Pennsylvania. Utah, Idaho, Illinois, Virginia, Indiana, Minnesota. New
Canada and Australia.”
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
& Fabrication mentioned Gemini's Orrville operations:
“Fabrication steel and aluminum sheet on
Manufacturing Co. builds truck cabs, stamping and welding steel and
components with the same machines.
“Even though steel and aluminum possess
and welding characteristics, it’s possible to adapt fabricating
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
characteristics. Built for trucks manufactured by White Motor
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
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
in Greensboro, NC, continued to market its Vehicles separatley under
the Volvo, White and Autocar
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%
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
“Lorain: Ford slowdown triggers layoffs
Lorain — The effects
of the slowdown at the Ford Assembly Plant on Baumhart Road have
to satellite businesses that provide services to the plant. About 40
Crown Steel Products have been laid off most of the summer, production
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
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
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
and paint shop at its heavy-duty-truck factory in Dublin, Va. The
the new assembly plant would have an initial capacity of 70 cabs a day,
would eventually produce 110 cabs a day. At full capacity, the new
supply the Dublin factory and the company's assembly plant in Orrville,
with cabs for Class 8 White GMC trucks. Volvo GM Heavy Truck is 87
owned by Volvo A.B. and 13 percent owned by the General Motors
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
“Apr. 10 - The Salem company that bought
Volvo GM Heavy
Truck's cab operations in Orrville two years ago has told workers there
sell the plant as part of a corporate-wide restructuring.
“EWI Inc., parent of the former Volvo GM
Commercial Vehicles, is shutting down or has already closed five of its
manufacturing plants nationwide, including one in Shelby, Ohio.
“The other four, including the two plants
employ about 500 people, may be retained if the company is able to
restructure. Or, it could be sold if the restructuring is unsuccessful,
“‘We have several businesses that have
suffered as a result
of the downturn in the heavy truck (and) bus market,’ said Ron
president and chief executive officer of EWI.”
ACV subsequently relocated the tooling and
presses, lasers, and press brakes) necessary for building the Mack MR, LE
and Volvo/Autocar cabs from Orrville to its facilities in
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
“Greensboro, N.C., Oct. 17 -- Volvo GM
announced today that it will consolidate its truck assembly operations
Dublin, VA, manufacturing complex. The move will result in the closure
Orrville, OH, truck assembly plant on April 18, 1997. The Orrville
currently produces 15 trucks per day and has 473 employees, of whom 291
“Volvo GM Heavy Truck recently expanded
with the addition of a cab assembly plant and paint facility, providing
location for the production of its newly launched Volvo VN Series
tractors. Included in the expansion and modernization was the addition
separate assembly line for the company's current products. The
will result in more efficient industrial operations and lower
“‘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
important for our future. Our Dublin complex has the capacity for
volume requirements, and our investments there make it extremely
the long term. This puts us in a very good competitive position to
customers with quality and flexibility from a facility located within a
convenient distance of our engineering and design facilities in
“Volvo truck models currently produced in
the Xpeditor (R), Autocar (R), WG straight truck, Autohauler, and the
Normal production at current line rates is anticipated to continue
through April 1997. Production transfer to Dublin will be accomplished
a way as to ensure uninterrupted availability of high-quality products
dealers and customers.
“The Orrville plant closing will not
operations located in Columbus and Westerville, OH.
“Some employees at the Orrville plant will
employment with Volvo at other locations. Company executives will meet
employees, including the leadership of the United Paperworkers
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
which will be sold. The shutdown will not affect the operations of two
Commercial Vehicles (ACV) plants in Orrville engaged in the production
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
transmissions, and rear suspensions. The company leads the heavy truck
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
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
engineering company has offered to buy - and try and keep open -
Commercial Vehicles in Orrville, the operating division of EWI Inc.
April sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
“EGS Inc., a privately held company based
Mich., on Friday filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Canton
James H. Williams for permission to buy the remaining assets of the
Commercial Vehicles (ACV) truck parts plant, said attorney Craig
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
Truck Corp., closed.
“American Commercial Vehicles (ACV),
Orrville, Ohio, is a producer of cabs for commercial trucks. Eglin is
adjunct instructor at Southeastern Business College, teaching
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
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
assembles cabs for the heavy truck industry - in particular to Volvo
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
Resources for Mayflower Vehicle Systems Inc.
“‘The decision has been made to close the
operation formerly known as American Commercial Vehicles,’ said Vicars,
over the phone from a press release dated March 23. ‘It is expected the
will close in the latter part of May of this year.’
“‘The company has been in financial
for some time.
It has been on the market for several months, but no one has come
showing an interest in purchasing ACV as an ongoing business. Sales in
large truck industry have slowed recently and impacted all suppliers to
“‘Wayne Stamping and Assembly, LCC, a
Mayflower Vehicle Systems Inc., recently purchased the assets of ACV.
will absorb the work at the Orrville location into its other facilities
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
priority at any Mayflower Vehicle Systems Inc. location where openings
“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
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
analyst, not all employees would have heard the news on Friday. ‘They
(Mayflower) notified the union, not individual employees. I'm sure they
it on the bulletin board, but the shifts that weren't there wouldn't
“Rohrer read a statement saying, ‘We had
Mayflower's recent acquisition of ACV and this local's bargaining
going to give us long-term employment.’
“‘This was the third ownership change
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
the members of this local, maintained their pride and their dignity.
continued their commitment to producing a quality product and to
customer's demands which meant devoting long hours and performing
“‘We only wish that the businesses would
have made that same
kind of commitment to these employees. I am proud to have worked with
members of PACE Local 5-0785 and I would tell any and all employers
will not find a more dedicated workforce.’
“Zech said that many of the ACV workers
through plant closings, such as those who worked at Diebold, and that
addition to losing their jobs, employees may also lose the vacation
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
- we'll be out of all that, but we haven't fought it yet.’
“Orrville Safety Service Director Becky
notified of the closing, said, ‘We will sit down with the company
with the aim of assisting their workers through this transition. That's
primary goal. Our secondary goal would be to market the facility so it
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
“Friends may call Wednesday from 2-4 and
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
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,
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.”
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
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
business forming TransPro Inc. of which Crown North
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
Canada Ltd. On May 5, 2000 TransPro sold Crown North
to Leggett & Platt Inc., a 127-year-old firm with over 19,000
more than 140 locations in 18 countries.
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: http://www.1automotive-components.com/
© 2015 Mark
Theobald for Coachbuilt.com