In the second decade of the 20th century manufacturing companies began to move and expand production facilities. Most were meeting the demands of either World War I or the growing auto industry, while others simply wanted to increase market share.
In 1909, Ford produced its Model T, a universal car that was mechanically simple and fairly durable. By 1912, sticker price for a Model T was under $600. Demand quickly exceeded supply, and, in 1913, the first moving assembly line at Ford's Highland Park plant cut auto assembly time by more than 75%.
Although Henry Ford's plant was pumping out 1,000 cars per day, not all of them were perfect. They did require the occasional repair, which made for good business for Wilkie Machine Works.
It was founded in 1912 and produced automobile repair tools for shops and blacksmiths that fixed horseless carriages. The company's originator, Leighton Wilkie, also invented the contour band sawing machine. Wilkie Machine Works subsequently became The DoAll Co., which now carries not only various types of saws but also deburring machines, hydraulic fluid power products, cutting and grinding fluids, and diamond abrasive products.
Early 20th century companies realized the importance of a strong presence in all their markets. They also knew they had to get the word out to customers. In 1912, George Feltes, the founder of The Standard Electrical Co., now known as the Setco Group, drew a mere $25 dollars a week as pay, most of which offset his advertising expenses. He believed a healthy advertising program was necessary for continued growth. His company grew from producing 1 /4-in. hand drills to designing and manufacturing super precision spindles for boring, milling, and grinding applications.
Paul H. Gesswein started his own company importing European tools in 1914. His customer base grew, and for those who could not visit his store, Gesswein produced a book of products, the first Gesswein catalog. Currently, P.H. Gesswein & Co. offers a complete line of abrasives, tools, and equipment for mold-and-die finishers.
Hermann Hahn, like Gesswein, also wanted to make it easier for manufacturers to purchase his products. While visiting the World Fair in Paris, Hahn recognized the benefit of automatically operated machines. What he saw were American-built automatic turning machines (screw machines), originally developed in Connecticut. Hahn was so impressed, he started manufacturing cam-operated screw machines in Germany as early as 1914 under the name of Index-Hahn & Kolb. As business grew, so did its overseas markets, and the company met the need by starting what is presently the Index Corp., which, coincidentally, is located in Connecticut.
Instead of moving in, Makino was moving out — to the suburbs that is. The company started its surge to the burbs as early as 1897, when it, as R.K. LeBlond Machine Tool Co., moved out of downtown Cincinnati. Relocating out of the city was uncommon at the time, but proved to be the start of a trend of businesses migrating to the suburbs. And in 1917, the company moved again, to a larger facility, due to increased manufacturing of machine tools for production of WWI military equipment. American machine tool shipments skyrocketed from $40 million to over $200 million by the time the country entered WWI. Companies operated at full capacity, and in 1918, over 60% of machine tool plant employees worked more than 10 hours a day. At the time, there was little development of new manufacturing methods.
But working for the military was nothing to toy around with back in 1918, and Kingsbury Manufacturing Co. knew it. The firm originated from Wilkins Toy Co. and got a government contract to adapt its toymaking machinery to producing special wing nuts for the country's newly formed Air Corps. Eventually, the company began selling a friction-drive drilling machine it had developed for toy production, and became Kingsbury Machine Tool Corp.
Arthur L. Parker didn't manufacture for the Air Corps, but he might have faired better if he had transported his product via airplane instead of by truck in 1918. It was at that time he started the Parker Appliance Co. in Cleveland to develop his special pneumatic braking system for
trucks and buses. A year later, he planned a major promotional trip to Boston and loaded his complete inventory into a truck and trailer. En route, the truck blew a tire, and both it and the trailer crashed in the Pennsylvania mountains. Although, Parker was forced to declare bankruptcy, he worked hard to restart the company, which eventually developed into Parker Hannifin Corp. It now designs, markets, and manufactures products controlling motion, flow, and pressure.
While Arthur Parker was rebuilding a business that had gone downhill, literally, Sadakichi Yamazaki was designing and manufacturing his first straw-mat weaving machine in Japan. The year was 1919, and Yamazaki's special machine became a model for the weaving machine industry. The design is still employed today.
His company was successful and expanded into making woodworking equipment. Customer demand grew, but good production machine tools were scarce and expensive. So, Yamazaki decided to make his own. A machine tool company was born, and now, Yamazaki's eldest son Teruyuki (Terry) is the CEO of Yamazaki Mazak Corp.
Sadakichi Yamazaki Mazak Corp.
The founder of Mazak, Sadakichi Yamazaki, started this world-renowned company as a young lathe machinist with a passion for design. Yamazaki's earliest invention, created in his 20s, was a machine that became a model for systems to come in the weaving industry. With that success, he expanded into creating woodworking machinery, but found it difficult to get machine tools needed to produce the equipment. So, he solved this supply problem by simply making his own machine tools, which led to the start of Yamazaki Mazak in 1927.
Companies founded in the 1910s
DoAll Co. (1912), Procunier (1912), Setco Group (1912), Index Corp. (1914) P.H. Gesswein & Co. (1914), Agathon Machine Tools (1918), Parker Hannifin (1918), Electro Abrasives (1919), Heller Financial (1919), Mazak (1919)