By Ralph C. Busbey
A Centennial History of Akron
Summit County Historical
Society, Akron, Ohio 1925, p 313-345
MORE than half of Akron's
century span of existence has revolved principally around the
rubber manufacturing business and its development.
Fifty-five years ago, when
the rubber industry was embryonic and unknown west of the
Allegheny Mountains, Akron was a smug little municipality of less
than ten thousand inhabitants, nestling cozily in the then rather
sparsely settled hills of Northern Ohio. Although at that time
virtually the hub of the harvesting machinery business of the
world and the seat of other promising industries, Akron boasted of
no great industrial enterprise of such tremendous potentialities
as have since been developed by the rubber industry. Its skies
then were only lightly sullied by the smoke of industry. The
little city had just begun to thrill under the first touch of the
romance of industrialism.
That Akron of fifty-five
years ago contrasts strikingly with the Akron of today,—the city
preeminent as the Rubber Manufacturing Headquarters of the
world;—a city of more than 200,000 population ;—a city pulsative
with industrial energy and bristling with business vigor;—a city
whose rubber and tire factories have a combined acreage of factory
floor space today far greater than was the total ground area
covered by the entire original city of Akron;—a city which, as the
mainspring of one of the mightiest and fastest growing industrial
giants known to mankind, girdles the civilized world with its
Today more than half of the
world's total production of tires and rubber goods comes from
Akron's mighty industrial institutions where more than 50,000 men
and women obtain their livelihood. In Akron's rubber factories
tens of thousands of light bulbs sparkle as men toil late into the
hours of the night, and often all night through, in order to meet
the world's growing demand for Akron's rubber products. In these
factories more than half a million horse power of steam and
electrical energy are consumed every 24 hours. Here thousands of
massive machines grumble and throb, turning out every 24 hours
more than 100,000 pneumatic automobile tires and 150,000 inner
tubes, fully 150 tons of solid tires for trucks, 15 miles or more
of rubberized conveyor and transmission belting, 400 miles of
rubber bands, 20 miles of garden and fire hose, miles of railroad
air brake and steam hose, tons of rubber couplings, nearly a
million rubber heels and rubber hoots and shoes for fully 25,000
people in addition to hundreds of tons of more than 30.000
different rubber commodities and novelties. Here the yawning maws
of industry are fed more than 150,000 tons of crude rubber and
over 300,000 hales of cotton annually, in addition to millions of
pounds of chemicals and other supplies. Here employees' payrolls
reach $75,000,000 a year and the revenues from the sales of
finished rubber products approximate more than $380,000,000 a
As the list of Akron-made
rubber articles numbers up into the 30,000 it is of course
impossible to enumerate them. Let it suffice, therefore, that
every rubber article known to the civilized world is made in Akron
from the tiniest rubber washer to the mammoth rubberized silken
hulls of the Leviathans of the air—the dirigibles Shenandoah and
Los Angeles; from rubber bands to conveyor and transmission belts
2000 feet long, which when rolled for shipment weigh thousands of
pounds and stand 8 feet high; from toy balloons to hot water
bottles, druggists' rubber sundries and surgical supplies; and
from tire repair patches the size of a quarter to giant pneumatic
and solid tires.
It was in 1870 that Destiny,
aided by a few of Akron's progressive citizens, principal among
whom was Col. George T. Perkins, (1836-1910) oldest son of Col.
Simon Perkins, first began to shape Akron as a mighty city of
Five years after the close of
the Civil War, a young man who had served in it as a surgeon but
who had forsaken his profession to enter the real estate business
in New York, acquired stock in the Hudson River Rubber Company
near Hastings-on-Hudson, as result of a real estate transaction.
The location was not profitable and the young owner at the
suggestion of a friend came to Akron to investigate advertised
factory sites and the availability of inexpensive water power from
the Ohio canal.
The young man, then 29, was
Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich. His visit marked the founding of
the rubber industry in Akron and resulted in the establishment on
the banks of the old canal just south of Exchange St., of the
first rubber factory west of the Alleghenies. Dr. Goodrich was
handicapped by lack of funds. Colonel Perkins had faith in him and
in his project and persuaded 18 other Akron business leaders to
join him, each loaning $1,000. This sum of $19,000 plus $5,000
from Dr. Goodrich's real estate partner in the East, constituted
the capital of the little company. A small building was secured
and manufacturing operations started under the name of Goodrich,
Tew & Co. Articles of copartnership were drawn up on December 31,
1870, with Dr. Goodrich, Harvey Tew, Henry S. Sanderson, Robert
Newland and David N. Marvin as members of the company.
The first rubber article
produced in Akron was fire hose. Dr. Goodrich before coming to
Akron had seen a friend's home destroyed by fire because the hose
was so poor it had burst. In launching his new project in Akron he
determined to make a fire hose that would stand up under pressure,
and as result this hose, known as "White Anchor," soon became
The company struggled along
for four years when the partnership was succeeded by Goodrich &
Company, George W. Crouse providing the timely financial
assistance which gave the firm needed working capital and its
actual start towards progress and prosperity. In 1879, Alanson
Work, father of the company's present chief executive, became
superintendent and to his energy and leadership is ascribed a
large measure of the company's subsequent success.
On May 1, 1880, the B. F.
Goodrich Company applied for incorporation, the charter being
granted May 10 for capital stock of $100,000. The incorporators
were Dr. Goodrich, Colonel Perkins, George W. Crouse. Alanson Work
and R. P. Marvin, Jr. At the organization on June 16, 1880, Dr.
Goodrich was elected president, Mr. Work vice president and
superintendent, and Col. Perkins, secretary and treasurer. The
following year Alanson Work succumbed and Dr. Goo rich became
superintendent as well as president wit George W. Crouse as vice
president. Mr. Work's idow, Mrs. Etta W. Work, was elected to fill
his v cancy on the hoard of directors.
Failing health caused Dr.
Goodrich to relinquish the reins of control and go West for his
health. He died suddenly on August 13, 1888, Colonel Perkins being
elected to succeed him as president. H. C. Corson was elected
secretary and treasurer and Dr. Goodrich's widow, Mrs. Mary M.
Goodrich, was honored with election to her husband's place on the
directorate. Bertram G. Work, the present chief executive,
succeeded Col. Perkins on January 10, 1907.
Since its incorporation the
company's vice presidents have been Alanson Work, Col. Perkins,
George W. Crouse, H. C. Corson, B. G. Work, F. H. Mason, H. E.
Raymond, E. C. Shaw, C. B. Raymond, W. A. Means, A. H. Marks, H.
K. Raymond, W. 0. Rutherford, W. C. Geer and A. B. Jones. The
company has had but six secretaries—Col. Perkins, George W.
Crouse, R. P. Marvin, C. B. Raymond, Guy E. Norwood and F. C. Van
Cleef. The treasurers have been Col. Perkins, H. C. Corson, W. A.
Folger, W. A. Means and L. D. Brown. The present executive
personnel includes Mr. Work as president and chairman of the board
of directors; C. B. Raymond, vice chairman of the board; W. A.
Means, W. 0. Rutherford and Dr. W. C. Geer, vice presidents; F. C.
Van Cleef, secretary; L. D. Brown, treasurer and H. Hough,
comptroller. Mr. Rutherford now is the president of the Rubber
Association of America.
When the Goodrich Company
started, the use of rubber products was extremely limited. As
compared to the single line of Goodrich production—fire hose—of
fifty years ago the company today produces over 35 carloads of
more than 30,000 different rubber articles a day, and as compared
to the original two-story factory building, the Goodrich factories
in Akron consist of more than 60 towering buildings containing
over 135 acres of floor space. Sales of the company in 1924 were
Goodrich ramifications are
world wide, with subsidiary and allied factories and selling
companies in many countries, and branches in all parts of the
world. Goodrich subsidiary and allied manufacturing companies
include the British-Goodrich Rubber Co., Ltd., of Leyland,
England; the Continental Caoutchouc and Gutta Percha Compagnie, of
Hanover, Germany, the largest European rubber and tire factory ;
the Societe Francaise B. F. Goodrich, Colombes, France ; the
Yokahoma Rubber Co., of Japan and the Canadian Goodrich Co., Ltd.,
of Kitchener, Ontario, and the B. F. Goodrich Rubber Co., S. S.
Ltd., of Capetown, South Africa. Selling subsidiaries of the
Canadian company are the B. F. Goodrich Co., Ltd., and the
Ames-Holden Tire & Rubber Corp., Ltd., while a selling subsidiary
of the French company is the Sociedad Anonima B. F. Goodrich of
Madrid, Spain. Goodrich factories in Japan were destroyed during
the recent earthquake there.
It is interesting to note
that one of the original Goodrich employees when the company was
incorporated in 1880 still is with the company. He is Percy W.
Leavitt who enjoys a record of more than 45 years of uninterrupted
service in this one company. Others prominent in Goodrich affairs
in the earlier days include Chas. C. Goodrich of New York, John H.
Kelly, now president of the Hewitt Rubber Company of Buffalo ; H.
C. Corson who served for many years as sales manager and who
removed to Nova Scotia ; the late Joseph P. Dangel of the hard
rubber division; J. W. Kelly, who died a few years ago in Boston;
E. C. Shaw, now retired but active in philanthropic movements in
Akron; E. C. Tibbitts, for many years advertising manager, and H.
E. Joy, E. L. Toy, A. P. Lohman, John F. McGuire, Chas. S. Eddy,
Chas. Stacy, A. J. Wills, A. D. Moss, H. A. Bauman, Newton
Johnston, Otis Cook and others. When Mr. Corson entered the
Goodrich employ as a stenographer in the early seventies, he was
one of the city's few short-hand writers.
The first tires to be made in
Akron were solid rubber bands for the wheels of the old fashioned
high bicycles, in the early eighties. The next step in the
evolution of the rubber shod wheel came with the manufacture of
solid rubber tires for carriages, followed by the pneumatic
bicycle tire. Then came the automobile—the greatest accelerator of
the rubber business—and the success of the first solid and
pneumatic tires for carriages and bicycles resulted, in 1896, in
the production of the first pneumatic tires for automobiles.
From that meager start, with
only a few hundred such tires produced the first year, the tire
business has grown to gigantic proportions with more than
50,000,000 pneumatic casings being produced in the United States
every year—more than half that number in Akron alone.
Goodrich was the first in
Akron to make pneumatic tires, and also one of the first to
manufacture golf balls, the company having developed the golf ball
business to one of commanding proportions today.
The second Akron rubber
company had its inception in 1892 when Jacob Pfeiffer, John
Grether and John Lamparter, who operated a retail drug store,
pooled their savings and entered the rubber business. In a
comparatively short time they had lost nearly $50,000 but
undaunted started over again, borrowing money to build a 20 x 50
factory. Their combined resources, of $250, they used to buy their
first case of rubber. The company started making rubber gloves and
grew rapidly. William F. Pfeiffer, Jacob Pfeiffer's brother, and
Harvey Miller joined the three on May 1, 1898 and the business was
incorporated for $50,000 under the name of the Miller Rubber
Manufacturing Company. In 1906 it was reincorporated as the Miller
Rubber Company, entering the tire manufacturing business several
Today the company which
started with only $250 resources, is capitalized at $60,000,000.
It has 26 factory buildings, over 30 acres of floor space and a
capacity of more than 1,000,000 pieces of manufactured merchandise
a day, with daily production exceeding 100 tons. Jacob Pfeiffer is
president, William F. Pfeiffer is secretary, treasurer and general
manager. Other officers include: C. T. Grant, vice president; R.
R. Jennings, comptroller and assistant treasurer, and Charles R.
Wetzel, assistant secretary. F. C. Millhoff is general sales
manager. The company's sales in 1924 were approximately
Akron's third rubber company
was launched in 1894 under the name of The Sherbondy Rubber Co.,
under the leadership of Ohio C. Barber, president of the Diamond
Match Company and founder of the city of Barberton. The company
was formed to operate in the plant across Failor St., from the
Goodrich factories, vacated by the Diamond Match Company when it
moved to its new quarters in Barberton. The company began the
manufacture of bicycle tires and drug specialties. In 1896 the
name was changed to the Diamond Rubber Company when it began the
manufacture of automobile tires. Three years later the company
was joined by A. H. Noah, as secretary and treasurer. In 1898 the
company increased its size and F. A. Hardy and W. B. Hardy of the
Revere Rubber Company and W. B. Miller and A. H. Marks joined Mr.
Noah in active management.
Mr. Marks in 1899 invented a
new alkali process for reclaiming rubber and the Diamond Rubber
Company established in South Akron a reclaiming plant. This
concern grew rapidly and in 1904 Diamond and Goodrich united in
forming the Alkali Rubber Company to carry on the reclaiming
business under the Marks patents. The Diamond Company added
steadily to its lines of products and in 1912 merged with the
Goodrich Company, the latter buying it for $45,000,000 and
increasing its own capitalization from $45,000,000 to $90,000,000.
Prominent in the Diamond organization were many men who were
afterward prominently identified with the Goodrich and other
companies, including A. H. Marks, W. B. Miller, A. H. Noah, 0. S.
Hart, David Galehouse, I. R. Bailey, 0. J. Woodard, C. B. Myers,
James D. Tew, N. S. Noble, A. L. Pardee, H. E. Riker, G. E.
Norwood, Theodore Weigele, A. B. Jones, Dr. D. Spence, George
Oenslager, James Cutler, John Noonan, Thos. S. Lindsay, Mark Roe,
James A. Braden, F. I. Reynolds, L. G. Fairbank, H. M. Bacon, F.
L. Lamson, Wm. Metzler, E. E. Sattler, L. M. Latta, and M. A.
Late in the autumn of 1898 a
young man rather short of stature and wiry of physique, purchased
12 acres of ground and a ramshackle strawboard box factory in East
Akron. He borrowed $3,500 and gave his personal notes for $9,000
more. Thus with capital of $12,500, F. A. Seiberling, one of the
foremost and most romantic figures in the industry, launched the
company to which he gave the name of Goodyear, to perpetuate the
name and fame of Charles Goodyear, the Yankee inventor who had
given to the world the discovery of the process of vulcanization.
It was Dec. 8, 1898, that the boilers were fired and the Goodyear
Company began to make solid carriage tires and pneumatic bicycle
Mr. Seiberling had been
associated, prior to his entry into the rubber business, with his
father, J. F. Seiberling, in the J. F. Seiberling Company, owners
of the Empire Mower and Reaper Works in Akron. Associated with
him from the start in the Goodyear Company was his brother,
Charles W. Seiberling. P. W. Litchfield, a New Englander, joined
Goodyear in 1901 and built the company's first pneumatic
automobile tire. He has since directed the construction of more
than 70,000,000 Goodyear tires. In 1903 G. M. Stadelman joined the
Goodyear as manager of carriage tire sales, and later became sales
manager and then vice president in charge of sales. He is now
president of the company. Mr. Litchfield climbed rapidly in the
organization to his present position of first vice president and
After the actual production
start of the little company on Dec. 8, 1898, the clear sailing was
short lived. On Christmas day of the same year, Mr. Seiberling was
notified that a decision of the United States District Court
completely validated solid tire patent claims of a firm which had
been making solid tires long before Seiberling entered the
business. Seiberling immediately sought to secure manufacturing
rights under the patent, but before this could be done the
patentee had instituted infringement proceedings against him.
Undaunted, the "Little Napoleon of the Rubber Industry"—for it was
then that he first gained that appellation—launched into
production of solid tires as vigorously as possible, and in four
months had made such inroads into the business of the million
dollar patentee concern that the latter suggested withdrawal of
its suit if Seiberling would limit his production to $50,000 worth
of tires annually and confine sales to orders from the patent
Mr. Seiberling refused to
sign the armistice, rejecting the compromise offer and redoubling
his production effort. Soon he had a contract for $600,000 worth
of solid tires. Finally the litigation came to a head and after
tedious days of court hearing, the patent involved was declared
null and void. Seiberling and Goodyear had won a notable
victory—one of the most notable patent victories in the history of
the rubber industry, and a victory that spelled expansion and
prosperity for all Akron makers of solid tires.
The victory created one of
the memorable events in Akron's history. All Akron rejoiced over
Seiberling's successful resistance of the infringement suit.
Bells were rung throughout the city. Whistles were tooted. It was
not only a Goodyear victory—but an Akron victory and Akron
citizens turned out en masse to celebrate. Goodyear subsequently
weathered other financial storms and patent infringement suits,
and became the largest rubber manufacturing concern in the world,
Goodyear sales under Mr. Seiberling's leadership climbing to more
than $168,000,000 in 1919 when Goodyear factories turned out
6,800,000 tires for automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles and trucks.
Mr. Seiberling continued as
the company's president until 1921, when control of the company
passed into the hands of financial interests.
In 1921 F. A. Seiberling and
C. W. Seiberling stepped out and E. G. Wilmer of Milwaukee became
the Goodyear president. Mr. Seiberling immediately started a new
company, the Seiberling Rubber Company, many of his old Goodyear
associates going with him in the new venture. Principal among
these was I. R. Bailey, for years with the Diamond Company and
also with Goodyear, who became the Seiberling vice president in
charge of sales. He succumbed in 1923. In 1923 Mr. Wilmer became
the Goodyear chairman and Mr. Stadelman was elevated to the
presidency with Mr. Litchfield as first vice president and factory
manager, F. K. Espenhain as vice president. Prominent in Goodyear
affairs for years have been L. C. Rockhill, sales manager; C. A.
Stillman, secretary; W. D. Shilts, assistant secretary; P. H.
Hart, treasurer; William Stephens, general superintendent; and C.
C. Slusser, factory staff manager.
The Goodyear factories in
Akron consist of 80 buildings with over 100 acres of floor space.
Sales of the Akron company in 1924 were $115,323,174.
Goodyear was the first Akron
rubber company to enter the rubber plantation business,
penetrating the jungles on the Island of Sumatra in the Far East
in 1916 and establishing a 20,000 acre plantation which now has
more than a million rubber trees under cultivation. Goodyear also
transformed the sand dunes of the Salt River valley in Arizona
into a fertile cotton plantation of 56,000 acres. Goodyear
subsidiary and allied companies include the Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Export Co. ; the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company of California,
operating at Los Angeles the largest tire factory on the Pacific
Coast ; the Goodyear Cotton Mills, Inc., operating cotton mills at
Killingly, Conn.; Devon Mills, a big fabric plant at New Bedford,
Mass.; the South West Cotton Company, the Goodyear-Zeppelin
Corporation, and the Goodyear Rubber Plantations Co., in Sumatra.
Just as Goodyear was getting
under way, Harvey S. Firestone acquired interests in the carriage
tire department of an Akron carriage factory and in 1900 bought an
old foundry building in South Akron and began the production of
solid tires. The original payroll of the Firestone company
contained 12 names. Today Firestone employees number into the many
thousands with branches throughout the world and the company's
factories in Akron represent one of the most completely equipped
industrial institutions of the world. Mr. Firestone early asserted
his leadership in the rubber industry. He aided in organizing the
Rubber Association of America and served as its president in 1916
and 1917. The company's sales in 1910 were $7,500,000 as compared
to $85,610,004 in 1924—a 12 fold increase in the last 14 years.
With the outbreak of the World War, Firestone built a plant for
construction of balloons for the government. The company has since
built in Akron one of the largest rim plants in the world,
operated by The Firestone Steel Products Company.
The Firestone organization
covers the entire world with branches, manufacturing subsidiaries,
etc. Included in the Firestone subsidiary and allied companies
are the Firestone Steel Products Co., of Akron, rim manufacturers;
the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company of Maine, an export
organization; The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, Ltd., of
London, England, manufacturers of reclaimed rubber, and The Xylos
Rubber Co. of Akron, also manufacturers of reclaimed rubber; The
Oldfield Tire Co., of Akron, tire manufacturers; The Firestone
Tire & Rubber Company of Canada, Ltd., operating large tire
factories at Hamilton, Ontario; the Firestone-Apsley Rubber Co.,
of Hudson, Mass., manufacturers of rubber footwear; the Firestone
Cotton Mills of Fall River, Mass.; and the Firestone Tire and
Rubber Co., S. S. Ltd., of Singapore, a crude rubber buying
Mr. Firestone was one of the
first to see the need for concerted action upon the part of
American rubber manufacturers in shaking off their almost total
dependence upon Great Britain for their rubber and in 1922 and
1923 inaugurated the "America Should Grow Her Own Rubber" campaign
which resulted in a $500,000 congressional appropriation to
investigate the possibilities of growing rubber under American
capital, in foreign countries. Mr. Firestone, continuing his
campaign, has launched his own rubber growing project in Liberia
and also is interested in a rubber growing movement in Florida.
When the Firestone company
was organized, James Christy, Jr., became president with Harvey S.
Firestone as treasurer, J. A. Swinehart as vice president and Dr.
L. E. Sisler as secretary. Two years later Will Christy succeeded
James Christy as president and Mr. Firestone became general
manager. The following year, 1903, Mr. Firestone became president
and Will Christy became vice president. In 1905 S. G. Carkhuff
became secretary and in 1911 James G. Robertson, now president of
the Akron Chamber of Commerce, became treasurer. Vice presidents
of the company have been J. A. Swinehart, Will Christy, Amos
Miller, R. J. Firestone, John W. Thomas, A. G. Partridge and
Thomas Clements. Present officers are Harvey S. Firestone,
president; John W. Thomas, vice president; S. G..Carkhuff,
secretary and J. J. Shea, treasurer. Al. Wegmiller, now the
Firestone pumping station and club house engineer, was Mr.
Firestone's first engineer. He is the only one of the original
force still with the company. Two of the older Firestone employees
still with the company are Miss V. M. Greer, now cashier, and Dan
Goodenberger, now manager of the solid tire department, who have
been with the company since 1904.
With the natural acceleration
of the automobile business and the rapid development of the
pneumatic tire, other rubber and tire companies were established
in and near Akron. Those already established expanded rapidly and
millions of dollars were spent for factory additions and new
Prior to 1900 practically all
rubber came from the jungles of Brazil, although seeds of rubber
trees had been transplanted from Brazil to the Kew Gardens in
England in 1876 by Sir Henry Wickham, now known as the "Father of
Plantation Rubber." This cultivation resulted in the establishment
of the first rubber plantations in the Orient and in 1900 the
plantations in the Far East gave their first yield of rubber -
four tons. By 1907 these plantation areas were yielding about
1,000 tons annually.
It was about this time that
"King Rubber" began to wave his magic wand. He built new kingdoms
over night, transformed wastes into thriving settlements and
barren lands into beehives of industry. Akron gained the
reputation of being the "fastest growing city in the United
States." Rubber factories sprang up almost over night. Vast
uncultivated areas of the Orient, once reeking with the stagnation
of malaria breeding quagmires were transformed into wonderful
rubber plantations and began to yield abundantly of nature's
riches as gigantic oak, camphor and teak trees in the virgin
jungles made way for long avenues of rubber trees. Desert
stretches with their cacti, sage brush and alkali dust began to
make way for fertile cotton plantations to provide cotton for the
fabric which is so essential a part of the pneumatic tire.
The once virgin jungles of
Sumatra, and the Malay states in the Far East became rich in their
growth of the cultivated rubber tree, plantations spreading over
millions of acres with thousands of sinewy Sumatran and Malayan
coolies employed to collect the milky white juice of the rubber
tree, coagulate it and prepare it for shipment to Akron's growing
factories. In the sun blistered Salt River valley of Arizona, amid
the sand dunes of Southern California and along the peaceful Nile
mammoth cotton plantations developed while amid the peaceful
environs of New England there sprang up many cotton and spinning
mills to make the millions of yards of fabric required in tire
Plantation rubber production
could scarcely keep apace of the demand, even this, Akron's
centennial year, finding an actual rubber shortage despite the
fact that there are today more than 4,000,000 acres devoted to
rubber plantations which this year alone will produce more than
400,000 tons of rubber.
Akron's rubber companies
began to expand their ramifications, several of them establishing
subsidiary manufacturing companies in foreign countries and in
Canada, and locating branches throughout the entire world.
In 1901 Theodore E. Smith
founded India Rubber Review, the only rubber journal ever
published in Akron and today the recognized tire and rubber
authority with world wide circulation. Mr. Smith transferred
editorial and publishing offices to Akron, from Chicago, shortly
after founding the magazine, and continued at its helm until 1920
when its control was acquired by Edward S. Babcox. The magazine is
published monthly, going to all parts of the world. Mr. Babcox now
is president and publisher of the India Rubber Review, with Ralph
C. Busbey as vice president and editor ; H. H. Harriman as
associate editor; W. C. Doerler as secretary and business manager,
and Miss H. L. Sanders, circulation manager.
It is of course impossible to
recount the histories of rubber companies in Akron that have come
and gone, the data herein contained being confined necessarily to
tire and rubber companies in existence in Akron and its environs
in this, Akron's centennial year. It is also impossible to
enumerate all of Akron's contributions to the rubber industry.
However, it must be stated that men who have been prominent in the
rubber industry here have given to the world most of that which
has contributed to the great expansion of the industry to its
present status. F. A. Seiberling gave the tire industry the first
practical tire building machinery which eliminated the hand method
of building tires and greatly accelerated production. A. H. Marks
developed one of the first successful methods of reclaiming
rubber. There are countless contributions to the industry such as
the work of Dr. W. C. Geer, vice president of the Goodrich
Company, in figuring prominently in the development of gas masks
for use by the American Expeditionary Forces during the World War;
the many tire inventions of J. A. Swinehart; the development of
the modern day golf ball and the valuable contributions in this
direction of John Gammeter of the B. F. Goodrich Company; the
pioneering in aeronautics and the construction of lighter-than-air
craft in Akron under the leadership of F. A. Seiberling and P. W.
Litchfield of the Goodyear Company; the work of John F. Palmer,
inventor of one of the first pneumatic bicycle tires ever
produced, and inventor also of the cord tire; the pioneering work
of Akron tire technicians in developing the first pneumatic tire
for buses and trucks and the latest improvement in tire
construction—the low air pressure or balloon tire. Akron owes its
prestige as the home of "Silvertown" tires to the work of A. H.
Marks during the days when the Diamond Rubber Company was at its
peak, prior to its consolidation with Goodrich, for it was largely
through the efforts of Mr. Marks that the Silvertown cord tire
manufacturing rights were secured for $750,000 cash, by the
The history of the cord tire,
about which most of Akron's development has centered, is indeed
interesting. At a bicycle show held in Philadelphia more than 35
years ago, J. F. Palmer, who later became famous in connection
with tire construction, exhibited what then was called a
puncture-proof bicycle tire. It was crude in construction but
interesting in theory and Goodrich representatives became so
impressed with it that they persuaded Mr. Palmer to come to Akron
to further develop the tire. After a series of experiments the new
tire finally was brought out but the real success of the Palmer
bicycle tire, however, was only achieved when Mr. Palmer conceived
the idea of using parallel threads or cords in place of a woven
fabric. Patents on this method were obtained early in 1893. The B.
F. Goodrich Company was the exclusive manufacturer in the United
States for this new Palmer tire but Mr. Palmer issued his patents
in a number of foreign countries. In later years Mr. Palmer used
the same cord principle in developing the first cord pneumatic
tire for automobiles, a tire which rapidly is replacing the fabric
With the advent of the
automobile Christian Gray, then technical director of the India
Rubber Co., and Thomas Sloper undertook to produce a clincher
automobile tire, embodying the Palmer bicycle cord principle.
Over a dozen patents were taken out by them on this construction,
between 1904 and 1911. In 1909 the Diamond Rubber Company of Akron
purchased the American rights under the patents, and the B. F.
Goodrich Company acquired the same rights in 1912 by purchase of
the Diamond Rubber Company.
One of the earlier rubber
companies was the Star Rubber Company, founded in 1907 by S. E.
Duff, its first president; Homer A. Hine, its first secretary, and
J. W. Miller, the first treasurer. L. H. Firey became president in
1916 when the company launched actively in the tire manufacturing
business, having previously made druggists' rubber sundries.
Present officers are L. H. Firey, president; R. L. Robinson, vice
president, and D. A. Grubb, vice president and sales manager; J.
W. Dessecker, secretary, and R. G. Shirk, treasurer. The company
now is capitalized at more than $1,000,000 and has capacity for
750 tubes and 600 tires a day.
The Mohawk Rubber Company, of
Akron, was founded in 1913 by S. S. Miller, Francis Seiberling, J.
K. Williams, C. W. MacLaughlin, R. M. Pilmore and F. J. Mishler,
with capital stock of $350,000. It took over the plant of the
Stein Double Cushion Tire Co., and from an original production of
20 tires a day has built its output to 1500 tires and 2200 inner
tubes daily. Sales in 1924 exceeded $3,413,000. Present officers
are S. S. Miller, president and general manager; Francis
Seiberling, vice president; R. E. Bloch, treasurer; H. H.
McCloskey, secretary and comptroller and J. F. Jones, sales
Two years before the founding
of the Mohawk Company, Adam Duncan formed the American Tire &
Rubber Company which was reorganized in 1916 as the American
Rubber and Tire Company, with Fred H. Snyder as president. Upon
Mr. Snyder's death early in 1924, his son Floyd C. Snyder
succeeded to the presidency which office he now holds with J. T.
Johnson as vice president and treasurer. The company devotes its
activities principally to the manufacture of tires and tubes.
The General Tire & Rubber
Company of Akron was the outgrowth of an accessory business
established by William O'Neil in Kansas City. Deciding to enter
the manufacture of tires, Mr. O'Neil transferred his business to
Akron and the company was founded in 1916 with $200,000
capitalization. Original officers were M. O'Neil, (pioneer of
Akron's department store merchants) president; Wm. O'Neil, vice
president and general manager; Charles Herberich, treasurer; and
W. E. Fouse, secretary. The first year's business was $219,000 as
compared to more than $13,000,000 in sales in 1924. In 1924 M.
O'Neil retired from the presidency and became chairman of the
board. William O'Neil became president and general manager. Other
present officers are C. J. Jahant, vice president; W. E. Fouse,
vice president; Charles Herberich, treasurer; T. F. O'Neil,
secretary and W. J. Cahill, assistant secretary and treasurer.
The Kelly-Springfield Tire
Company, whose main factory was for many years in Akron, was the
outgrowth of the Rubber Tire Wheel Co., organized in 1895 by
Edwin S. Kelly of Springfield, Ohio. In 1899 this company was
taken over by the Consolidated Rubber Tire Company and in 1914 the
name was changed to the Kelly-Springfield Tire Company. Although
the company's main plant now is at Cumberland, Md., it operates
its original Akron factory as its principal branch production
center. Emerson McMillen was the first president, followed by
Isaac L. Rice in 1900 and Van H. Cartmell in 1902. Mr. Cartmell
was succeeded by A. B. Jones in 1921 and in 1923 Arnold L. Scheuer,
present incumbent, became president. Samuel Woolner, Jr., now is
chairman with Mr. Scheuer as president, Frederick A. Seaman as
first vice president, Maurice Switzer, Thomas C. Marshall and
Clarence A. Brown as vice presidents, C. P. Stewart-Sutherland as
secretary, Herbert B. Dalapierre as treasurer and Milton
Lachenbruch, as auditor.
J. M. Alderfer, P. C. Searles,
D. A. Grubb and J. K. Williams were founders of the India Tire &
Rubber Co., in 1916. Capitalized at $250,000, the company started
production in February, 1918. Mr. Alderfer has served as
president since incorporation. Mr. Searles, originally the
secretary, now is secretary and treasurer. J. K. Williams has
served as vice president from the start. As indicative of the
company's rapid growth production now is at the rate of over 1200
tires daily. The company is capitalized at over $1,300,000 and in
1924 had sales exceeding $3,000,000.
The Swinehart Tire & Rubber
Co., organized in 1904 by J. A. Swinehart, E. C. Swinehart, H. F.
Siecrist, F. E. Ream and Henry Feuchter started with capital of
$100,000, manufacturing solid tires. Mr. Swinehart served as
president and in 1905 sold to the company the property of the
Rubber Specialty Co., on North Howard st., which he owned. The
company expanded to handle production of pneumatic tires and in
1909 W. W. Wuchter became president and manager. T. F. Walsh
assumed the presidency in 1921, the company adding a cushion tire
line in that year. From sales of $115,000 in 1909 the company has
grown rapidly, with 1924 sale exceeding $2,750,000. Present
officers are T. F. Walsh, president; W. E. Weldon, vice president;
C. 0. Baugham, secretary and assistant treasurer, and R. A. May,
In contiguous districts, in
what is known as the Greater Akron Industrial zone, are numerous
rubber and tire companies that have helped to make Akron the
"Rubber Metropolis." One of the older of these is the Rubber
Products Company at Barberton, incorporated in 1906 by William A.
Johnston as president and treasurer; B. F. Tracy as vice president
and G. C. Kohler as secretary. The company's present capital stock
consists of $200,000 common and $100,000 preferred. It makes tube
machine products, druggists' sundries, and molded specialties, T.
G. Richards being vice president and general manager, and R. A.
Miller secretary and treasurer.
In 1915 0. M. Mason and D. M.
Mason formed the Mason Tire & Rubber Company at Kent. The former
became president and the latter treasurer and general manager. In
1924 these two officers retired, W. A. Cluff becoming president
and treasurer, with J. H. Diehl and C. H. Williams as vice
presidents; and T. G. Graham as factory manager. Mason Company
sales in 1924 were over $9,200,000.
In 1919 the Lambert Tire &
Rubber Co., formed five years before in Portland, Oregon, by H. M.
Lambert, inventor of the special Lambert cushion tire, established
its factory between Kenmore and Barberton. The company now is
capitalized at $3,000,000. Present officers are H. M. Lambert,
president; J. W. Coyle, D. E. Ramsey, John Wagner, G. K. Fargo and
E. C. Eckert, vice presidents; John Hausam, secretary and
treasurer and Guy M. Collette, general manager.
In 1921 F. A. Seiberling,
upon his retirement from Goodyear, established the Seiberling
Rubber Co., which acquired the factory of the former Portage Tire
& Rubber Co., at Barberton. This company experienced phenomenal
growth from its start, its sales mounting in three years' time to
more than $7,000,000 a year. F. A. Seiberling is president with C.
W. Seiberling, W. S. Wolfe and H. L. Post as vice presidents and
W. E. Palmer, secretary. The latter for many years was with the
Goodyear. C. W. Seiberling now is treasurer.
At Cuyahoga Falls, several
rubber companies have sprung up. Principal among them is the Falls
Rubber Company, organized in 1909 by William Sherbondy and Frank
Nolte. M. J. O'Donnell joined the company in 1914 and became
president the succeeding year, retiring from the presidency in
May, 1925, when he was succeeded as president and treasurer by J.O
0. King. Other present officers include G. D. Kratz and M. J.
O'Donnell, vice presidents; O. C. Nelson, secretary; W. P. Cline,
assistant secretary and assistant treasurer; W. S. Campbell, sales
manager, and F. H. Comey, general superintendent. The company's
sales were nearly $3,000,000 in 1924.
The American Hard Rubber
Company came into being in 1898 through consolidation of the India
Rubber Comb Co., the Butler Hard Rubber Co., and the Goodrich
Hard Rubber Co., establishing its factory in East Akron. Fritz
Achelis was president from 1898 until his death in December, 1924,
when he was succeeded by Frederic G. Achelis. Other present
officers are Wm. W. Weitling, vice president and Edwin E. Belcher,
secretary and treasurer.
The Philadelphia Rubber Works
Company was formed in 1910 as a merger of the Philadelphia Rubber
Works which had been organized in 1880, and the Alkali Rubber Co.,
which was started in 1904. J. K. Mitchell has been president since
1910 with other present officers including J. S. Lowman, first
vice president and E. K. Monnington, secretary and treasurer. The
company manufactures reclaimed rubber.
Data available on other
rubber companies in the Akron district follow :
Good Rubber Co., formed 1923;
manufacturers of toy balloons and rubber novelties. Present
officers, W. D. Good, president and general manager; S. M. Good,
vice president ; J. B. Good, secretary, and E. K. Good, treasurer.
Capitalized at $10,000.
Independent Rubber Co.,
incorporated 1911 by S. G. Rogers, A. J. Rowley, G. A. Sirdefield
and R. H. Nesbitt to manufacture rubber goods. Present officers:
C. C. McCue, president; W. H. K. Rose, vice president; H. G.
Goodwin, secretary and treasurer.
Summit Rubber Co.,
incorporated in 1922 for $125,000, although established in 1917
by M. Nobil and Charles Schwartz. Present officers: M. Nobil,
president; Charles Schwartz, treasurer and general manager ; G.
B. Nobil, secretary.
The Western Reserve Rubber
Co., manufacturers of rubber toy balloons was incorporated in 1915
with Arthur P. Witten as president. Authorized capital, $50,000.
George E. Hall is secretary and treasurer, and Mr. Witten
The Sun Rubber Co., of
Barberton, manufacturers of rubber sundries, represents the merger
of the Marlanite Co., of Barberton and the Sumatra Rubber Co., of
Salem. Officers are J. T. McLane, president; T. W. Smith, vice
president and sales manager; M. S. Lower, vice president, and
general manager and secretary, and E. B. Billick, treasurer. The
company is capitalized at $200,000.
The Marathon Rubber Co., of
Akron, represents a recent reorganization of the original Marathon
Company. C. C. Osmun is president; C. E. Falor, vice president and
The Eclat Rubber Co., of
Cuyahoga Falls was started in 1919 by W. H. Stilwell, now
president, to manufacture mechanical rubber goods. The company is
capitalized at $250,000. Other present officers are C. C. Crumrine,
vice president; E. F. Ast, treasurer and C. E. Reiss, secretary.
The Trump Bros. Rubber Co.,
tire and mechanical goods manufacturers, started in 1921 with
$200,000 capital stock. Officers are E. H. Trump, president, and
R. M. Trump, secretary and treasurer.
Anderson Rubber Co., (not
incorporated) was established by S. W. Anderson in 1910, as
manufacturer and distributor of balloon toys and rubber
The Lincoln Rubber Co.,
organized in 1914 at Barberton, for the manufacture of rubber
sundries, surgeons' supplies, etc., capitalized at $175,000 of
which $62,660 has been issued. The management is under Allyn R.
McCoy, secretary and treasurer, and E. E. McNeely, auditor.
Directors are Allyn R. McCoy, Frank McCoy, E. E. McNeely, Nora
McCoy and John Hadfield.
The Pyramid Rubber Specialty
Company, founded in 1920 and capitalized at $25,000 for the
manufacture of rubber sundries and surgical supplies. L. N.
Oberlin and R. C. Shaw were the first executives. Present officers
include R. M. Pillmore, president; W. W. McIntosh, vice president
; W. B. McIntosh, secretary, and A. C. Bame, treasurer and
The Clinton Rubber Company,
organized in February, 1925, to make rubber products. Officers are
Allyn R. McCoy, president; John A. Smith, vice president; E. E.
McNeely, secretary ; L. N. Oberlin, treasurer, and T. S. Briggle,
The Miles Tire & Rubber Co.,
formed in 1923 to act as a selling organization handling products
of the Amazon and Monarch Rubber Companies. Officers are R. P.
Johnson, president and treasurer ; P. G. Himmelright, vice
president and J. S. Baruch, secretary.
The Akron Rubber Reclaiming
Co., formed in 1925 with B. 0. Etling as president ; C. E. Bishop
and Wm. Welch as vice presidents and W. H. Hart as secretary.
The Akron Rapatire Company,
organized in 1924 with Fred F. Feldhaus as president and R. H.
Noah as secretary and treasurer, manufacturers of tire wrapping
Mention should be made of
companies, not essentially rubber manufacturers, who supply the
industry either with materials, technical service or machinery.
Among these are the following:
The Rubber Service
Laboratories Co., incorporated in 1921 for $100,500 as
manufacturers of products connected with the rubber industry,
accelerator specialists, laboratory experts, etc. R. C. Hartong
was the first president. The company maintains laboratories in
Akron while its manufacturing site is at Nitro, W. Va. Present
officers include C. N. Hand, president and factory manager; E. J.
Smail, vice president and sales manager; C. 0. North, secretary
and treasurer, and H. D. Hughes, assistant secretary and assistant
The Leo Meyer Co., organized
by Leo Meyer in 1915. Mr. Meyer served as president until 1920.
Albert Buxbaum now is president with J. W. Bent, secretary. The
company deals in scrap rubber, tires and tubes and makes patches
and reliners for repairing of tires.
H. Muehlstein & Co., Inc.,
importers and dealers in crude and scrap rubber, was founded in
1911. Present officers are H. Muehlstein, president; C. Muehlstein,
vice president and J. Muehlstein, secretary and treasurer.
The centering of the rubber
industry in Akron has given rise to many Manufacturers of rubber
and tire building machinery. Among these companies are the
The Akron Rubber Mold &
Machine Co., established in 1909 by Stanley Harris who now is
president and general manager and G. F. Hobach, now secretary and
treasurer. W. E. Wilson is vice president and assistant general
The Adamson Machine Co.,
founded in 1892 by A. Adamson, now the president, and John Denmead.
The business was incorporated in 1907 for $500,000. W. E. Slabaugh
is vice president and R. B. Koontz is secretary and treasurer.
The Williams Foundry &
Machine Co., founded in 1888 by J. K. Williams who served as
president until 1918, resuming the presidency in 1924. F. E.
Holcomb was president from 1918 to 1924. Present officers include
J. K. Williams, president; H. L. Williams, vice president and
treasurer; F. C. Vandergrift, secretary and treasurer.
The Vaughn Machinery Co., of
Cuyahoga Falls, traces its origin back to a partnership in 1856,
James A. Vaughn entering the business in 1861. Present officers
are C. W. Vaughn, president; L. A. Vaughn, vice president,
treasurer and general manager, and A. T. Yungman, secretary.
The Biggs Boiler Works Co.,
founded in 188? by Lester Briggs and reorganized under the present
name in 1900. Present officers, B. R. Barder, president; F. G.
Sherbondy, secretary and treasurer; and G. J. Seeger, vice
The India Machine & Rubber
Mold Co., organized in 1920 by W. C. Wenk and L. T. Cline. Present
officers, R. D. McDowell, president; D. N. Rosen, vice president;
R. E. Baer, secretary and George T. Williams, treasurer and
Co., founded in 1903 with S. T. Wellman as first president.
Present officers, Edwin S. Church, president; George W. Burrell,
vice president and general manager; N. R. Fairlamb, secretary and
treasurer; W. G. Hildebran, assistant secretary.
East Akron Machine Co.,
founded in 1918 by Frank F. Seidel, John T. Seidel and Albert R.
Miller. Present officers are the same.
Electric Motor and Repair
Co., founded in 1916 by S. W. Sweet, W. A. Heffelman and R. S.
Whitright. Present officers, S. W. Sweet, president; Lee
Whitright, vice president; W. A. Heffelman, treasurer and general
manager, and H. S. Kish, secretary.
The Akron Standard Mold Co.,
organized in 1918 with $200,000 capitalization, by A. J. Fleiter.
Officers now are Allen F. Ayers, president; A. J. Fleiter, vice
president and general manager and C. W. McLaughlin, secretary and
The Franz Foundry and Machine
Company, organized in 1919 by C. Franz, Sr., one of the founders
of the Williams Foundry & Machine Co., in 1901. Mr. Franz
succumbed in April, 1925. His son, C. W. Franz, Jr., now is in
charge of the business.
The Akron Gear and
Engineering Co., organized in 1912. Capitalized at $150,000.
Present officers are J. H. Vance, president ; N. G. Nelson,
secretary and treasurer, and T. A. Seacrist, general manager.
The Akron Industrial Salvage
Company, founded in 1918 by George W. Sherman, as a war
conservation movement, handles the disposal of all types of
byproducts and waste materials of Akron's rubber factories. The
company has $62,000 in common stock and $11,000 preferred stock.
Officers are George W. Sherman, president, treasurer and general
manager ; A. Peterson, vice president, and L. E. Pierson,
secretary and assistant manager.
Other suppliers of the rubber
industry, located in or near Akron, include the Kuhlke Machine
Company, the Akron Equipment Company, the McNeil Boiler Company,
the Akron Machine Mold, Tool & Die Company, the Ohio Gear and
Engineering Company, the National Sulphur Company, etc.
Akron has achieved world
renown not alone as the rubber and tire manufacturing center of
the world, but also through her pioneering in aeronautics for
Akron had the first aeronautical factory in the United States, and
built the first American-made free balloons and dirigibles. As far
back as 1911 when lighter-thanair craft navigation was considered
impracticable, Akron exploited this field courageously and
pioneered the development of the free balloon. Two years later
Akron made balloons achieved success, winning the national balloon
races at Kansas City. Ralph Upson and R. A. D. Preston whose names
have been linked with America's aeronautical development almost
from its inception, then brought fame to America and to Akron,
winning for America for the first time the James Gordon Bennett
international balloon race trophy at Paris. In 1916 and 1919 Akron
made balloons again won the national races while in 1924 and 1925
W. T. Van Orman, pilot, and C. K. Wollam, aide, flying the free
balloon the "Goodyear III" won the national balloon races and
represented America in the international races abroad.
When America entered the
World War Akron played a prominent part in aeronautics, building
for the government many free balloons, observation kite balloons
and dirigibles. Goodyear aided in the establishment of an
aviation training field near the city. Goodrich, Miller,
Firestone, Goodyear and other Akron companies turned over much of
their plant equipment for the manufacture of balloon cloth and
dirigibles. The government centered its work of training air
pilots in Akron, building huge barracks at Wingfoot Lake and
conducting over 750 test dirigible flights and over 1200 training
flights in balloons. Akron-made dirigibles had achieved success
before the war, and many were made for the Army and Navy, Ralph
Upson and Herman Kraft figuring prominently in the design of new
dirigibles. Later the Goodyear factories turned out the 20 immense
gas ballonets for the rigid dirigible, the Shenandoah.
In 1924 Goodyear officials
secured the rights for America, to the Zeppelin dirigible patents,
and formed the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, bringing to Akron
officials of the Zeppelin factories from Friederichshafen,
Germany, and a corps of expert Zeppelin builders. These men now
are designing plans for huge Zeppelins a thousand feet long, which
will be built in Akron.
Akron has always been
considered, especially with respect to labor in the rubber
industry, an "open shop" city. It has long had a nation-wide
reputation of being a "good wage" town where working conditions
also were much more favorable than in cities boasting of other
Only one important effort was
ever made to unionize workers in the rubber manufacturing plants
and the effort was a short-lived failure.
It was in February, 1913,
that labor leaders, branded widely at the time as I. W. W.
agitators, established headquarters on South High st., and began
to distribute union propaganda. Efforts were centralized at the
larger factories including Goodrich, Firestone and Goodyear.
With respect to efforts at
"picketing" factory entrances and extending their efforts to
prevent strikebreakers from being hired, the former factory came
in for the greatest attention due to the factory being located
nearer the central part of the city and its proximity to Main st.
Much feeling was aroused by
the visiting labor workers. Police found it necessary to recruit
large forces of citizen police officers to supplement the regular
forces. Bankers, merchants, ministers and men prominent in various
phases of civic endeavor took their turns as guard sentinels at
places in the city where it was thought dangerous demonstrations
About 10,000 men were
estimated to have left their work at one time during the walkout.
Many of these were not in sympathy with the strike move but
remained at home through fear of bodily harm. Many parades were
held by the strike leaders and sporadic clashes between police and
strikers resulted, without, however, serious results.
The strike was not backed by
public sympathy and the effort died a sudden and natural death
after about six weeks.
One of the most interesting
spans in Akron's history, was the period from 1910 to 1920 which
marked the most rapid expansion of the rubber industry and earned
for Akron the name of "The fastest growing city in the United
States." Between those years the city's population increased more
than three-fold, reaching 208,000 under the 1920 census. The boom
period reached its peak of acceleration between 1918 and 1920.
Thousands of men seeking employment in rubber factories here where
wages were high, literally poured into the city. Rubber companies
could not make tires fast enough. They could not build additions
fast enough.. They could not hire men fast enough. Seldom has any
city in the world's history experienced such a condition of
expansion as that which held Akron in its throes in 1919 and 1920.
Civic development could not keep pace with population growth. A
housing shortage was precipitated upon the city. Attics and
basements were converted into sleeping quarters for the city's
army of homeless rubber workers. Manufacturers hastily
established subdivisions and feverishly built homes for their
The rubber factories worked
incessantly-24 hours every day. Men were given bonuses to speed
their work. The city's streets were clogged with men. There was as
much activity all hours of the night as during the day, with
thousands of men going to and from work. Hundreds of deaf mutes
flocked to the city for work in the rubber shops, forming the
largest colony of "Silents" in America.
Then came the precipitate
slump late in 1920; the sudden falling off of tire sales; vast
overproduction; the piling up of immense inventories of finished
goods that could not be moved and that tied up millions of dollars
of working capital; the tightening of credit. The depression
caught many manufacturers with contractual obligations for future
deliveries of rubber and cotton at peak prices even though the
prices of these raw materials had dropped to one-third of the peak
Employment in rubber shops
here which climbed to more than 75,000 men and women in June of
1920, dropped to less than 20,000 by December of the same year.
There was a tremendous exodus of rubber workers. The low ebb of
the slump came late in 1920 and early in 1921 but even after
general business had begun to recover, Akron could not quickly
regain its breath. The city's recovery thus was slow. The
atmosphere was filled with foreboding and uncertainty.
Courageously, however, Akron manufacturers began to shape their
"come back." They worked courageously and gradually reestablished
their trade channels, and liquidated inventories as rapidly as
possible. From late in 1921 up to the present time Akron's growth
has been steady and healthy, with a more stable class of labor
employed, with manufacturers less reckless.
Akron's centennial year finds
the city back to the old peak levels of production and
prosperity—but without the aspect of a boom period. It finds the
rubber industry in Akron economically sound with all companies
prospering and growing. Sales of Akron's rubber companies are
expected to exceed half a billion dollars in 1925. They were
$387,825,922 in 1924 upon which sales revenues were earned net
profits of $33,832,003, which indicates the industry's present
The balloon tire, pioneered
in 1923 and 1924 by Akron companies, ranks as the city's latest
contribution to the transportation of the world,—a contribution
which has virtually revolutionized motor vehicle transportation.
And thus we find the Akron of
today a city whose rubber products are indispensable to mankind,
and necessary to the progress of civilization. In every phase of
life and business and industry we find Akron made rubber products
performing essential service. From rubber bands to huge conveyor
belts and transmission belts found in factories, cereal mills and
mines; from the tiniest of rubber washers, to giant pneumatic and
solid tires; from rubber sheeting for the surgical operating room
to the immense silken rubberized hulls of the giant Shenandoah ;
from the rubber insulation of telegraph and cable wires, and
electric light wires, to the rubber panels which harness the
electrical energy that makes possible the radio; from the small
lengths of air brake and steam hose couplings connecting the
coaches of every railroad train in the world, to the millions of
feet of hose used by fire departments everywhere, and from sundry
rubber commodities to toy balloons and rubber balls, Akron
products are serving mankind. The world walks on rubber. It motors
Today we find more than
30,000 different articles made out of rubber. Yet experts agree
that the potentialities of rubber are as yet virtually unknown.
Which indicates Akron's potentialities. For Akron a population of
half a million assuredly is in the offing. That the rubber
industry in Akron will double its present size in the next ten
years, is a conservative prediction certain of realization.