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Yoder Co.
C.M. Yoder Company, 1910-1918; Yoder Company, 1918-1981; Cleveland, Ohio
 
Associated Builders
Yoder div. of Intercole Bolling Corp. 1981-1985; Yoder div. of Northern Group, 1985; Yoder div. of SNS Properties, 1985-2001; Yoder div. of Formtek, 2001- present
     

Carl Minter Yoder, manufacturer (b.1885-d.1944), was born near Jefferson, Ohio, July 4, 1885, son of Owen and Sevilla Barbara (Minter) Yoder, two Mennonite farmers. . Carl was the youngest of four children, with two brothers and one sister. Owen died in 1886, and in 1889 his mother married Wallace Robert Williams, who in turn died in 1892.

The Yoder family, according to a genealogy which has been published, originated in Switzerland, one of the most prominent family seats being in the border country along the limits of Switzerland, France and Germany, about thirty miles from Stratford on the Rhine.

C.M. Yoder's first paternal American ancestor of family record was John Yoder, who, with his wife Anna settled in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, prior to 1734. From John and his wife the descent is through Abraham and Maria, Peter and Elizabeth Brunner and Abraham and Elizabeth Nold, the grandparents of Carl M. Yoder.

He attended county school and night classes of the Y.M.C.A. in Cleveland and took structural engineering course with the International Correspondence Schools of Scranton, Pennsylvania, becoming proficient in wood pattern making. In 1903 he obtained employment in the pattern shop of the Buckeye Engineering Co., Salem, Ohio. Three years later he entered the engineering department of the Morgan engineering Co., Alliance, Ohio.

He was married in Salem, Ohio, on October 17, 1907, to Bertha L. Cobbs, and to the blessed union were born two children: Mildred Lucille, (who later married Edmund H. Kauzenbach) and Douglas Owen Yoder. At the end of 1907 the newlyweds moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Carl took a drafting position with the Ohio Blower Co.'s engineering department where he worked alongside his older brother Henry.

Working in a second floor room of his home, Yoder made a drafting table out of an old wood bedstead and in 1909 designed the first cold forming and bending machine to form the mud-ledge, or stiffener, on automobile fenders. A prototype was constructed in a rented machine shop during 1910 and after a number of successful demonstrations he organized the C.M. Yoder Co. in partnership with his cousin, Cleveland attorney Harvey O. Yoder.

Within a few short months Yoder, the firm's sole engineer and salesman, had successfully demonstrated the machine to most of Cleveland's automakers, many of whom placed orders with the firm which enabled the Yoder operation to move into its own machine shop near East 55th Street and Euclid Ave. By this time his older brother, Henry had resigned his position at Ohio Blower and joined him as vice-president.

Several new sheet-metal machines were added to the Yoder line and by 1915 had the resources to purchase a plot on Walworth Ave on which a new factory was erected. On July 1st, 1916, the firm's capital was increased from $5,000 to $50,000 and a subsequent recapitalization resulted in a reorganization of the firm as the Yoder Co. in 1918.

A circa 1918 description of the firm follows:

"Carl M. Yoder is president, M.H. Yoder, vice president, and Harvey O. Yoder, secretary and treasurer of this company. They manufacture a varied line, including automobile sheet metal parts, complete modern equipment for building, cold rolling machines for forming all shapes of light gauges, and at present they make machine tools and are doing considerable Government work for tractors and other machines."

The July 1918 issue of Machinery included the following article/advertisement:

"Forming Hammer: C.M. Yoder Co., Engineer's Bldg., Cleveland, Ohio.

"A power hammer designed for use in forming and planishing various shapes of sheet metal, such as automobile bodies, hoods, cowls, and other curved sheet-metal products. This hammer is built in several sizes to meet the requirements of diversified classes of work."

A 1920 issue of the same journal included the following:

"Metal Strip Cutting Machine: Yoder Co., Cleveland, Ohio.

"A machine for use in cutting sheet metal into strips suitable for various purposes. It is claimed that this equipment provides a rapid means of performing the operation and that the work is done in a way that insures parallelism of the edges. Machines of this type are made in several sizes to accommodate various widths and thicknesses of metal."

During the First World War the company manufactured tank and gun parts, mainly on sub-contracts. In 1922 the Walworth Ave plant burned to the ground, but within just 12 days the plant was partially rebuilt and production resumed.

In its early days the firm specialized in sheet-metal working machinery specifically designed for the automobile industry. By the mid-twenties Yoder crowned fender rolling machines, power hammers, rotary shears and edge-wiring equipment could be found in most of the nation's auto body plants. Yoder equipment was also distributed "across the pond" and could be found in large automobile plants located in France and Great Britain.

In subsequent years The Yoder Company broadened its product line and became the world leader in cold roll forming machines. This is a process whereby a flat strip of metal is formed into a desired shape by passing it through a series of matching pairs of contoured rolls at up to 150 feet per minute. The company also produced tube and pipe mills using the same process aided by a micro-welding system developed by Dr. Antonio Longoria.

In his early research Longoria had approached the problem of welding fine wires used in the manufacture of rolls of paper using Fourdrinier machines. The machines used fine wire belts to which the paper emulsion was deposited, belts made of wire mesh created using wires of only .01 inch in diameter. The screen was so fine that traditional arc or flame welding proved impracticable because if the heat was applied an instant too long, the soft brass or bronze wire was burned and the seam ruined.

Longoria solved the problem through the introduction of a small needle projecting from an insulated handle. When the needle is lifted from the seam, current stored in three condensers is discharged, a spark jumps the gap and just the right amount of heat is delivered to make a good seam. On this apparatus and process Dr. Longoria was granted U. S. Patents Nos. 1,972,529 and 1,972,530. The same process proved successful in joining rolled sheet-metal into tubing and conduit and Yoder purchased rights to the process from Longoria for $800,000, quite a large sum for 1936.

The process enabled Yoder to offer proprietary tube and pipe mills that were purchased by firms engaged in the manufacture of cross-country gas, oil and water pipelines. Just as the firm's exports were increasing the US entered the Second World War, and part of the plant was converted over to the manufacture of armaments. In addition to its machine tools, the firm manufactured 2000 57-millimeter guns and 1.5 million 105-millimeter shells during the War. Employment rose to over 800 during this period, with sales of $10,750,000 in 1944 alone.

Carl M. Yoder succumbed to cancer at his Lakewood, Ohio home on September 28, 1944.

Exports decreased after World War II, but the company started to regain its foreign business by granting licenses to foreign manufacturers to produce Yoder's machines and by establishing a French subsidiary in 1950. Yoder continued to supply the US Military with artillery shells into the mid-50s.

John Lucas was elected president of the firm in 1945 and soon afterwards, Carl M. Yoder's son, Douglas Owen Yoder became head of the firm. Under his direction, the business prospered in the 1950s, employing over 1,000 and reaching $13 million in sales by 1957.

Expanding sales led in 1958 to the construction of a 2nd plant in Westlake, Ohio which was operated until 1980. By this time the company was experiencing financial difficulties, and in 1981 it filed for bankruptcy.

Intercole, Inc., of California acquired Yoder and then merged its Cleveland-based Stewart Bolling & Co., Inc. with Yoder to form the Intercole Bolling Corp., with operations at Yoder's Walworth Ave. plant. In 1985 Intercole Bolling was sold to the Northern Group Investment Co. The Yoder Div. was sold in May 1986 to SNS Properties, Inc., which moved Yoder into the old Peninsula Steel plant at 26800 Richmond Rd., Cleveland. On June 30, 2001 SNS sold Yoder to Formtek Inc. a subsidiary of Mestek Inc. As of 2004 the official Yoder website continues to advertise the availability of new Yoder K-90 power hammers.

2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com with special thanks to Fay Butler

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References

The Yoder Company: 1910 to 1960, pub. 1960

Elroy McKendree Avery - A History of Cleveland and Its Environs: Biography, pub. 1917

James Terry White - The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 33, 1967 edition

William Ganson Rose - Cleveland: the making of a city, pub 1990

Science: Welder At Work, August 10, 1936 issue of Time Magazine

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