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Royal Body Co.
Royal Body Co., 1938-1942; Akron, Ohio
Associated Firms
Orrville Body Co., Gerstenslager Body Co.

The short-lived Royal Body Co. constructed small numbers of quad cabs 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 cabs to many of the nation’s truck manufacturers. Known clients and specific models include: Mack B, F, H, MB and MC, RW, and W models; White WC, 3000, 4000, 5000 and 5400 models; Autocar; Western Star; Diamond-T, REO, Brockway, International, Studebaker, Ford, GMC and Volvo. Orrville's second builder (Crown Steel Products - and its 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 the 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 - d.1949) and Mary C. (b.1867-d.1949) Breneman, siblings included Christian B., Lillian E., Alvin N., and Ruth A. Breneman. On June 25, 1918 he married Mabel K. Martin (b. 1896 - d. 1996) and to the blessed union were born three children; June L. (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, Lima, 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 in 1923.

Allen Lloyd Steiner was born on August 10, 1890 in Apple Creek, Wayne County, Ohio to Daniel and Martha Steiner. On December 25, 1910 he 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 Dale J. (b.1922) Steiner. His Draft Registration card dated June 5, 1917 lists his address as Orrville, Wayne County, Ohio and his occupation farmer, next of kin, his wife, Lillian E. Steiner. The 1920 census lists him in Baughman, Wayne 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 reporting:

“Will Develop Body Plant

“George Breneman and A.L. Sterner, partners in the Orrville Body company plant, have sold their interests to John LeChot, of this city, who will continue the business in the same manner as in the past. The mill and cabinet work will be continued and the body building will be carried on a much larger 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 and developed until it was necessary for him to take in a Partner, and five years ago today, March 1st, A.L. Steiner became a partner in the business. The volume of business has been greatly increased from year to year until it is now enjoying 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 devote considerable time to the sale end. He has retained Mr. Breneman as manager of 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 made. The new firm has bright prospects for the future, and will undoubtedly develop into a substantial growing industry for Orrville, under the supervision of Mr. LeChot.”

John Alonzo LeChot was born on January 29, 1881 to George H. (b. 1857 – d. 1938) and Marie Anne (Houmard, b. 1855 - d. 1912) LeChot in Mount Eaton, Paint Township, Wayne County, Ohio. At the age of 5 he attended the Frog Pond School and in 1887 relocated to Apple Creek with his family. In 1897, he passed the Boxwell examination, which entitled him to teach 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 1907, living at the corner of Vine and Chestnut streets. A short time later, Mr. LeChot 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 street was just the beginning of Mr. LeChot’s home building activities and starting in 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 flames started in some manner possibly by a match or cigarette. No damage was done.”

September 22, 1930 Orrville Courier Crescent:

“L. C. Hoffman and Leonard Jones are putting in the wiring for the new Orrville Body Co. building today. The structure is rapidly nearing completion, some of the body-building operations already having been shifted to the new plant.”

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 almost a generation ago, found a little ready cash in Orrville last week. The money came 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 company to build out of an 'old White bus last year, and which John had to hold in "hock" because Coxey couldn't pay for it. Coxey and the Orrville Body Co. together had about $4,000 in the affair.

“The ‘Auto-Pullman,’ which was seen by many here, was a pretty foxy affair, being fitted up inside with berths, and other conveniences of a pocket-size home. A mechanic who accompanied Thurston here, drove the outfit to Chicago from where Thurston will set out in the Spring for his magical tours.”

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 refurbishing and re-modeling his building beside the Pennsy tracks on South Main street, which he formerly used for his Orrville Body Co., and the word is that Sam Boyd will be the occupant of the new quarters with a gas and oil depot.”

A display ad in the January 26, 1933 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“Tailor-Made" TRUCK BODIES For Every Purpose

“Moving Vans, Wood and Steel Trailer Bodies, Insulated Fruit 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 Courier Crescent:

“Delivers Two Sleeping Cabs

“J.A. LeChot returned Sunday from Richmond, Pa., where he delivered two completed sleeper cabs to the Baker Equipment Co., which were manufactured at the Orrville Body Plant in this city. This order delivered to the Richmond firm is the second in as many weeks. Mr. LeChot says that he sees possibilities of many more cabs for this firm. As those already delivered have been very satisfactory.”

February 6, 1933 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“Body Company Opens Repair Depts.

“In order to use its very complete wood and metal working 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 repair work in the wood and metal lines. It has not been generally known that the Body Co. plant is equipped to do such widely divergent work as repairing torn or worn upholstered furniture, repairing wrecked or weather-worn auto bodies and metal parts, rehabilitating worn farm machinery and even such menial tasks as sharpening scissors, but such is the case.

“The factory is equipped with the last type of machinery and by setting up a new repair department, repair work is now being done without interfering with the chief function of the plant—the making of all types of 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 will 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, A.L. Steiner has been made sales manager of the plant, in charge of new body and cab sales.”

Thursday, May 25, 1933 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“John LeChot, of the Orrville Body Co., left this afternoon for E. Peoria, Ill., to make delivery of two sleeper cabs.”

August 7, 1933, edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“Mr. Le Chot delivered a sleeper cab for the Orrville Body Co. at Buffalo.”

August 31, 1933 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“Cab Business Brisk — A. L. Steiner, sales manager for the Orrville Body Co., is enroute for Allentown, Pa., with two Orrville-made cabs, and from there will go on to Long Island City, L.I., on 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 trucks) and Richmond, Va., last week.”

September 7, 1933 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“A new Ford V-8 coupe was delivered to the Orrville Body Co., Saturday night, and the next afternoon Mr. and Mrs. John LeChot left for Richmond, Va., in the car with a trailer loaded with two Orrville cabs hitched on behind.”

December 21, 1933 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“A. L. Steiner, sales manager for the Orrville Body Co., left today for Tarry town, N.Y., to deliver two sleeper 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 Courier Crescent:

“Mr. and Mrs. John A. LeChot and Mrs. Rose Marty have returned from Milwaukee, Wis., where Mr. LeChot delivered a sleeper cab for 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 cause today destroyed the Orrville Body Company truck body manufacturing concern, with a loss of $30,000 and resulted in the death of the building janitor. Shortly after the fire started, John Smith, company janitor, who slept in an upstairs room of an adjacent building owned by the company, dashed into the street collapsed and died, apparently of excitement.”

August 16, 1934 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“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 LeChot, 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 structure will be 81 by 121 feet, LeChot said.”

November 30, 1934 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“Orrville Body Concern Displays New Models

“New ‘refrigerated’ truck bodies, designed for milk haulers, were displayed Wednesday night to truck owners and representatives of milk companies in this area in the new plant of the Orrville Body Company, now almost completed.

“The building, almost totally destroyed by fire last May 8, has been rebuilt and will be ready for full occupancy soon. The new building is larger than the original, the space formerly occupied by an alley to the west of the structure having been put under roof. By doing this, the LeChots were able to utilize the east wall of the storage building which they own and which stood on the west side of the alley.

“The new type ‘milk bodies’ designed by the company have 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 appeared very favorably impressed with the Orrville line.”

June 25, 1936 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“Firm Seeks to Keep Sole Agency for Cabs

“Attorney Raymond O. Morgan appeared in Cuyahoga County common pleas court in Cleveland Monday as counsellor for the Orrville Body Co. which was defendant along with the Ford Motor Co., the White Motor Co. and the Autocar Sales Co., in a suit brought by the Ohio Truck Equipment Co. seeking to restrain the four firms from entering into any contract for supplying the City of Cleveland with 25 trucks equipped with garbage collection bodies. The Ohio Truck Equipment Co. claimed in its petition that it had an agreement with the Orrville Body Co. for distribution of truck cabs made by the latter concern, and that the automobile concerns were not entitled to supply trucks equipped 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 Cleveland contract. The motion for the restraining order was refused. A petition asking for an injunction will be heard later.”

October 1, 1936 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“Body Works Busy With Most Orders In Plant's Existence

“From the ashes of a $32,000 fire on May 8, 1934, the Orrville Body Works, builders, of truck bodies and sleeper cabs, has built its 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 that the Body Works has had the best summer months it has ever enjoyed. Truck cabs and bodies have been parked outside the plant for the entire summer.

“During the past week, a dozen International truck cabs for the garbage disposal department of the City of Cleveland excited considerable comment. The attractive aluminum-colored cabs were part of an order for 23 cabs, the last of which will be delivered this week. In 1935 the Body Works furnished 25 of these cabs.

“At present the plant is rushing work on 45 special, 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. Sweeney’s 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 Midwest are Body Company customers.

“A force of about 10 men was employed at the factory this summer and this number has been boosted to 40 employees at the present time.

“‘I wish I could figure out a way to expand,’ John LeChot, president of the company, said today. He added that expansion to the rear of his present plant would be the only possibility.”

November 9, 1936 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“Work Started on New Addition to Orrville Body Co.

“To accommodate an increasing business which has necessitated tripling the number of employees within the past six months, the Orrville Body Co. is considering plans for a brick building at the rear of its 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 for the new structure within several weeks.

“The addition will join the present shop and extend back to the edge of the Pennsylvania Railroad company’s main line boundary along which it will run for a distance of about 70 feet.

“Plans for the building project are as yet tentative, but are not expected to take definite form before December 1.”

July 12, 1937 edition of the Orrville Courier Crescent:

“Local Plant Builds Body for Doylestown Engine

“The Doylestown volunteer fire department, which has purchased a new truck, will get delivery of the outfit this week. The body for the truck was built at the Orrville Body plant on West Pine street.”

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 Courier Crescent:

“Announcement - Recently we VOLUNTARILY severed our connection with the Orrville Body Company. We are now connected with the Royal Body Company, located at 328 East Water Street, where we will be pleased to meet our old friends and happy to make new ones. A.L. Steiner; Lloyd Steiner.”

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 Co. 

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 a superintendent.

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







Charles D. Breneman - A History of the Descendants of Abraham Breneman, pub. 1939

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

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

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

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