The short-lived Royal Body Co. constructed small
numbers of quad
and sleeper cabs to businesses located in and around Akron, Ohio. The
firm was founded by Allen L. Steiner, a one-time partner in the better-known
Orrville Body Co. of Orrville, Ohio.
Between 1928 and 2001 the town of Orrville,
Ohio, was home
to two related firms that supplied truck 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. Orrville's second builder (Crown Steel Products -
subsidiaries and descendants) was founded in 1941 by employees and
directors of the Orrville Body Co. and is covered on another page.
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); 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.
Like so many of its competitors, Orrville was founded by a farmer/cabinetmaker named George A. Breneman (b.
February 8, 1898 – d. July 16, 1979), who eventually branched off into
repair and manufacture of wagons and early motor vehicle bodies.
George Arthur Breneman (aka Brenneman) was
born on February
8, 1898 in Elida, Allen County, Ohio to Charles David (b.1867 in VA -
and Mary C. (b.1867-d.1949) Breneman, siblings included Christian B.,
E., Alvin N., and Ruth A. Breneman. On June 25, 1918 he married Mabel
(b. 1896 - d. 1996) and to the blessed union were born three children;
(b.1920), George M. (b.1923) an Edwin J. (b.1928) Breneman. His Draft
Registration card dated Sept 12, 1918 lists his address as R +D No.7,
Allen County, Ohio and his occupation farmer, next of kin, his wife,
Mabel K. (Martin, b. 1896-d. 1996) Breneman
In 1921 Breneman moved to Orrville,
Ohio where he established a small cabinet works. As business increased
he hired his brother-in-law, Allen
L. Steiner (b. August 10, 1890 - d. April 15, 1971) , who was made a
partner in the firm
Allen Lloyd Steiner was born on August 10,
1890 in Apple
Creek, Wayne County, Ohio to Daniel and Martha Steiner. On December 25,
married Lillian Elizabeth Breneman and to the blessed union was born 4
children; Eda Mae (b.1912), Lloyd Emerson (b. Apr. 1, 1914 - d. Jun. 6, 1956), Irene E. (b.1920) and
(b.1922) Steiner. His Draft Registration card dated June 5, 1917 lists
address as Orrville, Wayne County, Ohio and his occupation farmer, next
his wife, Lillian E. Steiner. The 1920 census lists him in Baughman,
County, Ohio, his occupation, farmer.
Originally known as Breneman & Steiner,
they began doing business as the Orrville Body Works around 1925. A
local contractor named John A. LeChot saw possibilities in the firm,
which employed only six, and in early 1928 bought out the
partners, the March 2, 1928 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent
“Will Develop Body Plant
“George Breneman and A.L. Sterner,
in the Orrville
Body company plant, have sold their interests to John LeChot, of this
will continue the business in the same manner as in the past. The mill
work will be continued and the body building will be carried on a much
scale than in the past.
“This firm was organized seven years ago,
when Mr. Breneman
came to this city and started in on a small scale. The business grew
developed until it was necessary for him to take in a Partner, and five
ago today, March 1st, A.L. Steiner became a partner in the business.
of business has been greatly increased from year to year until it is
a fine patronage.
“Mr. LeChot, seeing the possibilities of
this firm, decided
to purchase the equipment and develop it to a much larger extent and
considerable time to the sale end. He has retained Mr. Breneman as
the mill, cabinet and designing work. Mr. Steiner will also be retained
for the present.
“Plans are under way for the branching out
in other lines,
but some details must be worked out before any definite announcement is
The new firm has bright prospects for the future, and will undoubtedly
into a substantial growing industry for Orrville, under the supervision
of Mr. LeChot.”
Alonzo LeChot was born on January 29, 1881 to George H. (b. 1857 – d.
Marie Anne (Houmard, b. 1855 - d. 1912) LeChot in Mount Eaton, Paint
Wayne County, Ohio. At the age of 5 he attended the Frog Pond School
and in 1887 relocated to
Creek with his family. In 1897, he passed the Boxwell examination,
which entitled him
school and on January 25, 1903 married Maida Silva Smedly who was born
on Dec. 25, 1885
in East Union, Wayne County, Ohio to Lehman J. and Emma (Lachet) Smedly
of Apple Creek. In 1907 the couple moved to Orrville in
at the corner of Vine and Chestnut streets. A short time later, Mr.
built a home at 323 West Oak street.
When Mr. LeChot first came to Orrville, he
worked as a
carpenter for Nelson Chaffin, a general contractor in the community at
that time, for 15 cents an hour. Later he was given the job of
supervising 10 men
at 17 1/2 cents per hour. The building of his own home on West Oak
was just the beginning of Mr. LeChot’s home building activities and
1908 he became a full time contractor on his own accord.
August 27, 1929 Orrville Courier Crescent
“The fire department responded to a call
sent in for a blaze
that started in the partition of the Orrville Body works building. The
started in some manner possibly by a match or cigarette. No damage was
22, 1930 Orrville Courier Crescent:
“L. C. Hoffman and Leonard Jones are
in the wiring
for the new Orrville Body Co. building today. The structure is rapidly
some of the body-building operations already having been shifted to the
February 16, 1931 Orrville Courier Crescent
“General Jacob Coxey, who became a general
by virtue of the
fact that he led his army of unemployed to storm the White House gates
generation ago, found a little ready cash in Orrville last week. The
from Chicago, but it didn't stay in town long, as Coxey presumably took
it to Massillon with him.
“Howard Thurston, magician of note, gave
Coxey the money in
exchange for the ‘Auto-Pullman,’ which Coxey ordered John LeChot's body
to build out of an 'old White bus last year, and which John had to hold
because Coxey couldn't pay for it. Coxey and the Orrville Body Co.
about $4,000 in the affair.
“The ‘Auto-Pullman,’ which was seen by
here, was a
pretty foxy affair, being fitted up inside with berths, and other
of a pocket-size home. A mechanic who accompanied Thurston here, drove
to Chicago from where Thurston will set out in the Spring for his
August 25, 1932, Orrville Courier Crescent:
“Mr. and Mrs. John A. LeChot left this,
morning for Long
Island City, N. Y., where they are making delivery of a cab from
the Orrville Body Co.”
September 15, 1932
“John LeChot has begun the task of
re-modeling his building beside the Pennsy tracks on South Main street,
he formerly used for his Orrville Body Co., and the word is
Boyd will be the occupant of the new quarters with a gas and oil
A display ad in the January 26, 1933 edition
of the Orrville
“Tailor-Made" TRUCK BODIES For Every
“Moving Vans, Wood and Steel Trailer
and Dairy Bodies, Combination Grain Bodies and Cattle Racks, Platform
and Stake Bodies
“SLEEPER CABS, Three-man and Standard
Two-Man Cabs …or any
other Bodies built to your special requirement. Orrville Body Co. A. L.
STEINER, Sales Mgr. West Pine St. Orrville, O.”
January 30, 1933 edition of the Orrville
“Delivers Two Sleeping Cabs
“J.A. LeChot returned Sunday from
Pa., where he
delivered two completed sleeper cabs to the Baker Equipment Co., which
manufactured at the Orrville Body Plant in this city. This
delivered to the Richmond firm is the second in as many weeks. Mr.
that he sees possibilities of many more cabs for this firm. As those
delivered have been very satisfactory.”
February 6, 1933 edition of the Orrville
“Body Company Opens Repair Depts.
“In order to use its very complete wood
departments to the limit, as well as to afford a service to the
residents of this,
city which might be greatly appreciated, the Orrville Body Co. recently
arranged its modern plant on West Pine street to take care of general
work in the wood and metal lines. It has not been generally known that
Co. plant is equipped to do such widely divergent work as repairing
worn upholstered furniture, repairing wrecked or weather-worn auto
metal parts, rehabilitating worn farm machinery and even such menial
sharpening scissors, but such is the case.
“The factory is equipped with the last
of machinery and
by setting up a new repair department, repair work is now being done
interfering with the chief function of the plant—the making of all
auto truck bodies and cabs.
“The plant has been enjoying a very
satisfactory volume of
new business, and every week sees several bodies and cabs either
shipped out or
mounted on trucks or trailers brought to the plant here. So rapidly
have the facilities been
expanding, though, that the establishment of the new repair department
take up whatever slack there is. Thus far they have been extensively
patronized. Emerson Hostetler is in charge of this work.
“Through a recent change in personnel,
been made sales manager of the plant, in charge of new body and cab
Thursday, May 25, 1933 edition of the
“John LeChot, of the Orrville Body Co.,
afternoon for E. Peoria, Ill., to make delivery of two
August 7, 1933, edition of the Orrville
“Mr. Le Chot delivered a sleeper cab for
the Orrville Body Co. at Buffalo.”
August 31, 1933 edition of the Orrville
“Cab Business Brisk — A. L. Steiner, sales
the Orrville Body Co., is enroute for Allentown, Pa., with
Orrville-made cabs, and from there will go on to Long Island City,
business. Business at the body plant has been brisk this month, an
average of a
cab a day being delivered. Five cabs were taken to Allentown (Mack
Richmond, Va., last week.”
September 7, 1933 edition of the Orrville
“A new Ford V-8 coupe was delivered to the
Co., Saturday night, and the next afternoon Mr. and Mrs. John LeChot
Richmond, Va., in the car with a trailer loaded with two Orrville cabs
December 21, 1933 edition of the Orrville
“A. L. Steiner, sales manager for
the Orrville Body Co., left today for Tarry town, N.Y., to deliver two
cabs, and he will deliver two more to the same firm next week, making a
second trip with the Body company’s own Ford coupe and trailer.”
April 23, 1934 edition of the Orrville
“Mr. and Mrs. John A. LeChot and Mrs. Rose
returned from Milwaukee, Wis., where Mr. LeChot delivered a sleeper cab
the Orrville Body Co. They visited friends in Ft. Wayne,
Ind., on the return trip.”
May 8, 1934 United Press newswire:
“Orrville, O. (UP) – Fire of an unknown
destroyed the Orrville Body Company truck body manufacturing concern,
loss of $30,000 and resulted in the death of the building janitor.
after the fire started, John Smith, company janitor, who slept in an
room of an adjacent building owned by the company, dashed into the
collapsed and died, apparently of excitement.”
August 16, 1934 edition of the Orrville
“Rebuilt Body Plant To Increase Space
“Brick work on the rebuilding of the
Orrville Body Company's
plant on West Pine Street is being carried on under direction of John
owner of the body concern. The plant was destroyed by fire May 8.
“The remodeled building will be enlarged,
taking in the
alley and paint shops to the west under one roof. The completed
be 81 by 121 feet, LeChot said.”
November 30, 1934 edition of the Orrville
“Orrville Body Concern Displays New Models
“New ‘refrigerated’ truck bodies, designed
for milk haulers,
were displayed Wednesday night to truck owners and representatives of
companies in this area in the new plant of the Orrville Body Company,
“The building, almost totally destroyed by
fire last May 8,
has been rebuilt and will be ready for full occupancy soon. The new
larger than the original, the space formerly occupied by an alley to
of the structure having been put under roof. By doing this, the LeChots
able to utilize the east wall of the storage building which they own
stood on the west side of the alley.
“The new type ‘milk bodies’ designed by
been made necessary by recent state laws requiring all truck bodies
used to haul
milk to be insulated. Attendants at the first showing of these bodies
very favorably impressed with the Orrville line.”
June 25, 1936 edition of the Orrville
“Firm Seeks to Keep Sole Agency for Cabs
“Attorney Raymond O. Morgan appeared in
common pleas court in Cleveland Monday as counsellor for the Orrville
which was defendant along with the Ford Motor Co., the White Motor Co.
Autocar Sales Co., in a suit brought by the Ohio Truck Equipment Co.
restrain the four firms from entering into any contract for supplying
of Cleveland with 25 trucks equipped with garbage collection bodies.
Truck Equipment Co. claimed in its petition that it had an agreement
Orrville Body Co. for distribution of truck cabs made by the latter
and that the automobile concerns were not entitled to supply trucks
with Orrville cabs and, at the same time, the Orrville Body Co. was not
entitled to furnish cabs to those companies for use in bidding on the
contract. The motion for the restraining order was refused. A petition
for an injunction will be heard later.”
October 1, 1936 edition of the Orrville
“Body Works Busy With Most Orders In
“From the ashes of a $32,000 fire on May
Orrville Body Works, builders, of truck bodies and sleeper cabs, has
business to the highest peak since the firm was established in 1928.
“To the hundreds who pass by the West Pine
street plant of
the company on their was up and down South Main street, it is not news
Body Works has had the best summer months it has ever enjoyed. Truck
bodies have been parked outside the plant for the entire summer.
“During the past week, a dozen
truck cabs for
the garbage disposal department of the City of Cleveland excited
comment. The attractive aluminum-colored cabs were part of an order for
cabs, the last of which will be delivered this week. In 1935 the Body
furnished 25 of these cabs.
“At present the plant is rushing work on
pug-nosed cabs for the White Motor Company of Cleveland. The cabs squat
directly above the motors, and the truck chassis are 28 feet long.
Bakery Co. of Canton has placed an order for seven truck bodies. Other
companies in cities whose location ranges from New Jersey to the far
are Body Company customers.
“A force of about 10 men was employed at
summer and this number has been boosted to 40 employees at the present
“‘I wish I could figure out a way to
expand,’ John LeChot,
president of the company, said today. He added that expansion to the
his present plant would be the only possibility.”
November 9, 1936 edition of the Orrville
“Work Started on New Addition to Orrville
“To accommodate an increasing business
necessitated tripling the number of employees within the past six
Orrville Body Co. is considering plans for a brick building at the rear
present plant to provide an additional 5,000 square feet of floor space.
“Two weeks ago workmen began moving lumber
stored at the
rear of the West Pine street plant, and the ground should be cleared
new structure within several weeks.
“The addition will join the present shop
extend back to
the edge of the Pennsylvania Railroad company’s main line boundary
it will run for a distance of about 70 feet.
“Plans for the building project are as yet
are not expected to take definite form before December 1.”
July 12, 1937 edition of the Orrville
“Local Plant Builds Body for Doylestown
“The Doylestown volunteer fire department,
purchased a new truck, will get delivery of the outfit this week. The
the truck was built at the Orrville Body plant on West Pine
Allen L. Steiner, who was now serving as Orrville’s sales manager,
resigned in early 1938, forming a competing firm in Akron, Ohio called
the Royal Body Co., Allen’s son Lloyd E., who also worked at Orrville Body, joining
his father in the new enterprise.
February 14, 1938 edition of the Orrville
“Announcement - Recently we VOLUNTARILY
connection with the Orrville Body Company. We are now connected with
the Royal Body Company, located at 328 East Water Street, where we will
meet our old friends and happy to make new ones. A.L. Steiner; Lloyd
Royal Body Co. was formally incorporated on April 24, 1939 by by Allen L.
Steiner; Ruth Dort and Forrest D. Myers. Their listing in the 1940-1941 Akron Directory indicates a change of address to 884 W. Waterloo Rd., Akron.
Little information on Royal exists save for
a one page flyer issued during 1939 that shows a circa 1938-39 Ford
sleeper that looks identical to the cabs turned out by Orrville Body
The 1940 US Census lists Lloyd E. (and his
wife Pauline M. Douglas, b. 1911 - d. 1993) Steiner in Orrville, his
occupation, 'foreman' in a 'sleeper cab mfg. co.' Orrville was only 30 miles southwest of Akron and it likely he commuted to Akron.
The firm was noticeably absent from the Akron phone directory after 1942 although
Lloyd E. Steiner moved there in 1941. Royal withdrew from business in
1942, at which time both Steiners became associated with the
Gerstenslager Body Co. of Wooster, Ohio - Allen as a clerk and Lloyd as
Allen's wife (Lloyd's mother) Lillie Elizabeth Steiner died in 1955 and he married
for the second time in the 1950s and on August 30, 1966 Allen married for the
third time to Nina Blanche Claflin.
© 2015 Mark
Theobald for Coachbuilt.com