This page contains information from "The History of Genesee County NY 1890-1982" Holland Purchase Historical Society 1985

In 1915 the city had more than a dozen industrial plants, large and small, four of which are still in business today, three still manufacturing the same type of products. Several of them employed women as workers. The Chamber of Commerce, in recent years through the activity of its Industrial Development Committee, has been successful in bringing new industry to the area, often finding local money with which to provide a site and to help the new industry locate.

Wiard Plow Company

The company that had been here longest in 1915 was the Wiard Plow Company which was founded in 1876 by two young men, George Wiard and Charles M. Hough, who had met in service during the Civil War. They made plows after a rather new design which had been perfected by Mr. Wiard's father and they shipped them all over the United States until 1946 when Henry Wiard, the fourth generation of Wiards to make plows, retired and the company was sold to a group of men from Detroit. The company never did well after that even though the new owners made some improvements in the plant. In December 1954 the company was declared bankrupt and the buildings were permanently closed. The whole plant was purchased in 1961 by Richard Cecere and James O'Mara. Mr. Cecere removed some of the buildings, moved his construction company offices and his construction machinery there and now rents the rest of the buildings to small companies.

Colt Clamp Company

One of Mr. Cecere's tenants is another of Batavia's older companies, now much diminished from its former size but still thriving as a one-man operation. This is the Colt Clamp Company which started on Exchange Place in a building which the Daily News shared until 1887 when a fire forced both companies to relocate. The Colt clamp was an invention of Alva M. Colt who had perfected a device which is still used by construction workers needing large powerful clamps. After the fire Mr. Colt joined his brother, James R. Colt, and Moses E. True in a new venture, that of making carriage wheels and together they built a large factory building on Walnut Street where they manufactured the Sweet Carriage Wheel for about twenty-five years. The Colt Clamp Company was purchased by William C. Gardiner, whose son Dr. C. William Gardiner continued the business at 17 Center Street. At times he employed as many as a dozen workers. On Dr. Gardiner's death in 1948 Mrs. Harold Bishop, who was vice-president of the firm, became owner. In 1964 Mrs. Bishop's son-in-law, John C. Sliker, became owner, and he ran it until 1974 when he sold it to David Barrett, the present owner. Mr. Barrett moved the operation, now consisting of one workman and one business manager, to Swan Street, where the Colt Clamp is still being made.

Batavia Carriage Wheel Company

The Batavia Carriage Wheel Company manufactured a particularly fine carriage wheel in its plant on Walnut Street until 1904. The wheels were purchased by makers of elegant carriages in all parts of the world. In 1904 the owners sold out to the Standard Anti-Friction Equipment Company which had offices in both New York and Chicago and they installed their own plant manager here. The absentee owners and remaining local stockholders soon came to a disagreement over policy and in November 1904 the factory closed. Owners and tenants of the building in the next ten years included the Batavia Pure Ice and Water Company, the Batavia Sales Book Company and in 1915 the Ross Food Company.

Ross Food Company

The Ross Food Company manufactured a breakfast biscuit rather closely resembling shredded wheat and to which the Shredded Wheat Company made strong objections. After five years of litigation the Ross Food Company was finally forced to cease operation. About that time Scott N. Perky invented a somewhat similar, though differently shaped, product which he called "Muffets." With William Morgan of Buffalo Mr. Perky set up the Muffets Company in the Wheel Works plant and began to turn out Muffets on a grand scale. In 1925 twenty women and twenty girls were employed in the plant and Mr. Perky talked of expanding. On September 29, 1925 a fire which broke out in the elevator shaft quickly spread through the old wooden building totally destroying it. Today only the Wheel Works office building at 66 Walnut Street still stands, now the headquarters of Genco, a business set up to employ the handicapped. The office has been used as a starting base by several embryo companies that now occupy larger quarters, among them the Batavia Machine and Tool Company, the Deluxe Machine and Tool Company and the Van Son Construction Company.

R.E. Chapin Manufacturing Works

The R. E. Chapin Manufacturing Works is one of the more successful local companies, and one of the few still run by members of the founding family. Ralph E. Chapin moved it here from Oakfield in 1897. In those days it was always referred to as the Oilcan Company since the first product made by the Chapins was an oil can designed by Mr. Chapin and made by him in his own workshop. Chapin settled in a barn on Liberty Street, a building long since swallowed up in repeated expansions. Mr. Chapin's son, Horace H. Chapin, succeeded to the presidency of the company in 1935 and, when he retired in 1945, a grandson, Ralph B. Chapin followed him. A great grandson, Ralph R. Chapin, is now an associate of his father. The company makes sprayers and dusters, products of particular interest to both of the present Chapins who are active ecologists. The company employs 180 to 200 people.

Climax Corporation

The R. E. Chapin Manufacturing Works recently expanded into the plant that from 1899 to 1974 produced some of the best harvesting machines made. This was the Climax Corporation, maker of the Bidwell Bean Harvester, along with its Climax Harvesting machines. The first Bidwell Harvester was made in Albion by C.H. Bidwell in 1883. A year later he brought his operation here to take advantage of Batavia's excellent rail connections. The company made fine machines that marketed readily but, in 1910 due to mismanagement, was declared bankrupt. In June 1911 Dr. W. C. Gouinlock and his son W. S. Gouinlock of Warsaw bought the plant and reopened it under the name the of Batavia Machine Company. Soon the plant was again prospering. In June 1919 a fire damaged the Gouinlocks' factory in Warsaw, and they began to make their Climax Ensilage Clipper here, although casting was still done in the Warsaw foundry. At that time the name of the Batavia plant became the Climax Corporation, the name that was to be seen at the top of the factory building until the whole plant was sold to the Chapins in 1974. In 1968 Harold S. Gouinlock, son and grandson of the original owners, sold the plant to Integrated Dynamics, Inc. which promised tremendous things from the plant, among them the production of the largest bean thresher ever made. Without the attention of the original owners business dwindled and in 1974 Climax closed.

The Baker Gun Company

Dr. Ellis L. Baker and his brother, William Baker, were long associated with the Syracuse Forging Company in Syracuse. When a fire in the Syracuse plant forced them to move in 1889 they chose the old Union School building on the corner of School and Liberty Streets for their new factory which they called The Baker Gun Company. William Baker was a skilled gun designer and many of his designs for shot guns were used for years after his death which occurred in 1890, just as the new plant was beginning operation. This left Dr. Ellis Baker in sole charge of operations. He gave up his practice of medicine and managed the plant until 1899 when he retired. It was a time of great change in gun design and the new president of the company, William T. Mylcrane, lost some large orders because of patent suits. In 1919 the Bank of Batavia, virtual owner of the business, forced the company to reorganize. At that time Daniel W. Tomlinson, plant manager, and Josephine Bender Miller, business office manager, were put in control of reorganization. The gun making part of the business was sold to the D.H. Folsom Company of Meriden, Connecticut, and the plant began to make drop forged parts, mainly for automobiles.

Batavia Metal Products

When Mr. Tomlinson reorganized the company in 1921, it was partly financed by local men. Mr. Tomlinson and Mrs. Miller held the controlling interests. The former gun company became Batavia Metal Products. The Baker Gun Company had used the Union School building as a forge and had built a small brick business office on the corner of Liberty Street. Buildings for the large drop hammers have been built since and, in 1969 a new office building was built to the south and the old office razed. Daniel W. Tomlinson was president of the firm until his death in 1956 when Vincent M. Nott succeeded him. Barton Tomlinson, Mr. Tomlinson's nephew, became president in 1976. The company instituted a profit sharing system about 1950 and the workers voted not to unionize. The plant has never had a strike. About 100 workers are employed most of the time.

Batavia and New York Wood Working Company

In the 1920s one of the leading local industries was the Batavia and New York Wood Working Company, a company founded here in 1892 by the reorganization of other earlier wood working companies. It was located on the corner of Buell and Elizabeth Streets, clearly visible from Cedar Street. The president of the new company was J. N. Scatcherd and the plant manager, the man longest associated with the business, was C. N. Honeck. The plant consisted of a three-story brick factory building, an engine house, a ware-house and many kilns and sheds. At its peak it employed 350 skilled workmen. Over the first thirty years the firm developed one of the most modern of plants for making interior woodwork and furnished interiors for some of the finest buildings then being built. Among these were the original Pennsylvania Hotel, the Roosevelt Hotel, and the SavoyPlaza Hotel, all in New York City, and the Sterling Library at Yale University. The firm made interiors for many Batavia buildings, most of them now gone, but one example may still be seen, the interior of the County Court House, Nothing was machine-made in those early days. Architects sent architectural drawings to the firm and skilled workmen then made each door, window frame and partition for a particular room in a particular building. In the depression of the 1930s the building industry declined. About the same time new fire laws caused builders to turn to metal and plaster instead of wood interiors, reducing the orders for wood finish of any sort. For a few years the plant made decorative wooden details for the outside of new buildings, many examples of which can be seen on streets in the city. In 1939 operations ceased and the city took title to the property under a foreclosure act.

Walls Dry Bean Company

In 1941 the city sold the thirteen acres and the several buildings of the former Wood Working Company to George W. Haxton and Son for use as a warehouse. In 1958 William H. Walls, who had been a part of the Haxton Company for thirty-six years, and who was known as an authority on dry beans, bought the plant from Haxton. He set up the Walls Dry Bean Company known locally as Walls Beanery. Mr. Walls installed machinery that allowed farmers to truck their loads of beans to large bins, from which automatic machinery fed them to be dried, cleaned, sorted and packaged, all without human interference. Ten million pounds of beans moved in and out of the plant each year. In April 1963 a fire broke out in a storage area above the company office and within three hours reduced the ninety year old plant to a pit of ashes.

Eastern Mold Industry (EMI)

Nothing has been built on the beanery site to date. In 1972 one of Batavia's newer industries, EMI or Eastern Mold Industry, bought the area and moved from the Industrial Center to a large one-story building they erected on Elizabeth Street. Here C.C. Conway produces plastic products, some of which are experimental in nature. The one storage building remaining from the Wood Working plant is used by EMI as a storage unit.

P.W. Minor Shoe Company

Several companies have made shoes in Batavia, D. Armstrong and Company, Quance Brothers a:ftd Smith Brothers among them. The P. W. Minor Shoe Company is the only one to have remained any length of time. In 1896 P.W. Minor and his son, Frank Minor, moved an eight year old business from Interlaken to a building built in 1890 for the D. Armstrong Shoe Company at Ellicott and West Main Streets. Minor shared space there with the E. N. Rowell Company until 1898 when they moved to a building of their own at 21 State Street. They added a second building in 1922 and enlarged again in 1939. The main product ma e by t e company is the Treadeasy Shoe, though they have made other health shoes, among them the Wilbur Coon Shoe. In 1961 they were one of several firms asked to test new material, corfam, for the DuPont Company, a material that proved to be highly successful in shoe manufacture. In 1970 the area in which the plant was located became a part of the second Urban Renewal area and the company built a new factory in the Industrial Park off Pearl Street. The company moved at the beginning of 1972, after seventy-three years on State Street. The Urban Renewal Agency razed the old buildings in May 1973 and the Acme Market eventually built on the site.

E.N. Rowell Company

E. N. Rowell came to Batavia with W. T. Palmer, with whom he had been in business in Utica, in 1888 and together the two men set up the Palmer and Rowell Box Factory over 60 Main Street. Within a year Mr. Rowell owned the business, now called the E. N. Rowell Company, and Mr. Palmer was running the Palmer Box Factory at 41 Center Street. Mr. Rowell took as partners E. G. Buell and C. H. Ruprecht. About 1894 the E. N. Rowell Company moved to the eastern half of the building built in 1890 for D. Armstrong, with P. W. Minor its neighbor on the west. When the P. W. Minor Shoe Company moved to its building on State Street the Rowell Company expanded into the entire building to which a fourth floor was added in 1912. This building at Main and Ellicott Streets was from that time known as the Rowell Building. In 1919 Mr. Rowell bought several buildings on Jefferson Avenue from K. B. Mathes and used them for the manufacture of cosmetic boxes, the product local people associate with the Rowell Company. The main product of the company until then had been small cardboard boxes for pills and medical powders. In the 1920s the former St. James rectory was purchased and used as a print shop for labels on the boxes and storage area for cardboard. After Mr. Rowell died in 1929 his second wife, May Emke Rowell, ran the business successfully assisted by James W. Taylor and Elmer Bork until her death in 1972. At that time Mr. Rowell's will was executed, and two grandchildren, neither of whom had Batavia interests, became the new owners. Within a month they had sold out to Glar-Ban Corporation of Buffalo. Glar-Ban built a new plant in the Industrial Park, leaving the old buildings and the site in the hands of the Urban Renewal Agency. In 1978 the buildings except the former rectory were razed. The factory seemed to be thriving, and the new owners even added corrugated boxes to the line. But when profits did not reach their expectations, the new owners closed the building in the Industrial Park in 1981. In 1982 Calibrated Charts moved from the Industrial Center on Harvester Avenue to this building.

Massey-Harris Harvester Company

The Johnston-Harvester Company, which later became the Massey-Harris Harvester Company, relocated here after a fire destroyed their Brockport factory in 1882. The chief owner, Byron Huntley, chose Batavia because of its excellent railroad connections. He located on what was then called Cemetery Street, a name soon changed to Harvester Avenue for the new industry. Under the management of Mr. Huntley and, after his death in 1906, that of Edward W. Atwater, the firm prospered and expanded rapidly along Harvester Avenue. On Mr. Atwater's death in 1910 the Massey-Harris Company of Canada bought a controlling number of shares in Johnston-Harvester and the local factory became a subsidiary of Massey-Harris. By this move the Massey-Harris Company gained markets in Europe not at the time open to Canadian firms. With considerable stock still in the hands of local investors the plant retained its name and its local manager until 1917. In June 1917 all stock not already owned by the Canadian company was purchased by them, and all assets and liabilities of the Johnston-Harvester Company were transferred to the Massey-Harris Company. The advantages of the new arrangement were soon apparent. Almost at once production increased by 50,7o and the buildings were expanded. The company added a laboratory for testing metals and a shop for tempering steel. The purchase of the J. C. Case Plow Company of Racine, Wisconsin, added the production of plows to that of the harvesters and potato diggers already being made here. In 1929 the company made an arrangement with the Wiard Plow Company which gave MasseyHarris the right to handle sales of the Wiard chilled steel plow in the United States, while the Wiard Company still controlled overseas sales. During World War 11 the sale of farm machinery dropped, and as the plant was not geared to produce war material, there was little expansion until the war ended. At the end of the war the Marshall Plan, under which farm machinery was sent to developing countries by the Economic Cooperation Administration of the federal government, brought increased activity to the plant. However, there had been careless management in all the Massey-Harris plants and the Batavia plant was pointed out as one of the chief losers. The union was making long overdue demands that the company was not prepared to meet. There was a long strike in 1953 when the factory was closed from August to December. In 1954 the Massey-Harris Company merged with the HarveyFerguson Company, a manufacturer of front-loaders and became Massey-Ferguson. All plants were given close financial scrutiny and told they must observe strict economy or be closed. The union negotiated raises for workers in 1954 and again in 1955. In 1956, after long deliberation, the union agreed to cuts if that would assure them jobs. There was one more year of production. Then, in September 1957, the report was confirmed that the plant would close in January and all production would be transferred to Racine, Wisconsin, or Brantford, Ontario. On June 6, 1958 the Massey-Harris whistle, by which local citizens had set their clocks for seventy years, was silenced and the Chamber of Commerce began to look for a new tenant for the large sprawling factory complex.

F.E. Mason and Sons

F.E. Mason and Sons was started by F. E. Mason, a fine engraver and enthusiastic week-end painter who came to Batavia with the Baker Gun Company in 1890. Many of the Baker guns that collectors cherish today have stocks decorated with engraving by Mr. Mason. He left the gun company in 1907 and with his son Max started an embossed seal and label company upstairs at 24 Main Street, at the rear of the Continental Hotel. In 1919 Roy Mason joined his father and brother. The business prospered, and, outgrowing their limited working space just ten years after its founding, they moved to a new building at 50 Franklin Street where they employed from fifty to eighty workers, many of them women. Mr. Mason and his sons shared the responsibility of designing new products and taught many local young people with artistic promise the essentials of design. The F.E. Mason Company was one of the earliest concerns to make artistic embossed seals and it became one of the largest. After Frank Mason's death in July 1936, Max Mason bore much of the responsibility for the business, though his brother Roy who became an internationally known artist, did some of the designing. Other designers who worked for the company were Richard W. Ware, George Mahaney, Madeline Koester, Rosalind Hayes, Merle Mabon and Wayne Dorpfeld, some of whom are well-known locally as artists. By 1959 both brothers were retired and management passed to Max Mason Jr. and John H. Bertrand, a son-in-law of Max Mason Sr. In the 1970s both Max Jr. and Mr. Bertrand retired and the latter's two sons assumed control. Neither had the interest in the business shown by their father nor the artistic gifts of the grandfather. In 1975 the young Bertrands sold factory and business to Stanley Fulweiler, president of Master Embossed Labels of Rochester. He ran it as an auxiliary to his plant with only a half dozen workers left from the former work force. In 1977 all machinery and designs were moved to Rochester and the building closed. From 1978 to 1981 P.T. Mold and Die Co. occupied the building and in May 1982, it was sold to James Morton Inc., distributors of clamps and manufacturers of Hard-N-Tuff Compound.

Doehler Die Casting

H. H. Doehler moved his Doehler Die Casting Company from Brooklyn in 1921 to the old Worden Monument Works on Evans Street. Mr. Doehler had chosen Batavia because it was near the Kodak plant in Rochester, one of his customers. There was also adequate room for expansion in the Evans Street area. Mr. Doehler got his start making aluminum parts for gas masks during World War I and it was the aluminum casting machinery that was first set up in the Evans Street buildings. The next year Mr. Doehler bought factory buildings on Robertson Street from the Batavia Rubber Company and installed brass casting machinery. All the original Evans Street buildings were rebuilt to make them fireproof, and later they were reinforced for use in the manufacture of munitions. They were not used after the end of World War 11 and have now been cleared to make way for parking around the city skating rink. Many additions were made to the Robertson Street buildings. In 1945 a magnesium foundry was built east of Ganson Avenue. Reflecting the expansion of the company in 1944 it became the Doehler-jarvis Company, Inc. when Doehler purchased the W. B. Jarvis Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a company that made automobile trimmings, furniture and appliances. Two earlier purchases had brought the number of DoehlerJarvis plants to four. In 1952 National Lead of New Jersey purchased all plants of the Doehler-jarvis Company and the Batavia plant became the Doehler-jarvis Division of National Lead. The plant employed 1,500 men in the busy years, but work decreased under National Lead until by 1980 there were only about 150. The numbers continued to decrease until the plant finally closed in 1981.

Trojan Division Yale & Towne

Trojan Division of Faun-Werke started in August 1920 when a railroad car repair shop called the Batavia Car Works was started on Clinton Street. A building of steel and brick opened for business in October 1921, managed by John Baukat. This workshop never became a success. In September 1923 the Batavia Car Works was declared bankrupt and an interim owner leased the building to the Ferguson-Allan Company of Buffalo. Frederick W. Allan came to Batavia to manage the plant that made small locomotive parts under the FergusonAllan name. In September Mr. Allan and his sons, Frederick W. Jr. and Robert G. Allan, bought the whole property on a delinquent tax sale and the company became Contractors' Machinery, with Frederick W. Allan as president and plant manager. Mr. Allan and his sons continued to make small locomotive parts but added pole-derricks, power scoops and other earth-moving machinery to the line. During World War 11 they made mine-sweeping gear and docking cradles for PT Boats. At the end of the war they went back to making earth-moving machinery. In 1949 they began to make front-end bucket loaders, the forerunner of the Trojan Loader. In 1957 the Allans sold Contractors' Machinery to Yale and Towne. Robert G. Allan, at the time president of Contractors' Machinery, continued as plant manager. The next years were profitable for the plant, with work space added to the factory almost every year. In 1963, the firm merged with Eaton Corporation to become Eaton, Yale and Towne. In 1971 the name for the world-wide industry became simply Eaton Corporation and the local plant became the Trojan Division of Eaton. In late 1979 Eaton Corporation joined the Faun-Werke Company of Germany, becoming the American plant in a company with factories in France, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia and Great Britain, and making the Trojan Division the first Batavia plant to come under foreign ownership. The new owners promised that the Batavia factory would continue to make Trojan Loadt" and would continue to be known as Trojan Industries. The Trojan plant employs between 250 and 550 men, the number depending on seasonal orders.

Melton Shirt Company

The Melton Shirt Company which employs between seventy-five and eighty-five workers, most of whom are women, began operation in Batavia in the Liberty Street building that had been used for much the same purpose for over fifty years. Joseph Horowitz had leased rooms in the old post office building on Jackson Street in 1918 and started to train women and girls to make shirts. The first shirt completed by the new factory had been proudly presented to the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce in December 1919 by plant manager Max Goldberg. The Horowitz Shirt Company leased the building at 43 Liberty Street until 1955. At that time the furniture and machines were sold at auction. A year later Abraham and George Alpert took part of the building, brought in furniture and machinery and were soon making Edgefield Shirts there. In 1972 the company began making the Melton Shirt, a heavy sport shirt, along with woolen jackets. Melton Shirt Company with Monroe Davidson as president, moved to the Industrial Center on Harvester Avenue in 1978. Melton Shirts settled into the southern side of the old building and continued employment for over seventy-five workers. Other clothing factories were operated here from time to time. The one probably having the longest life, The Rough and Tumble Garment Company, makers of rompers and overalls, leased the former Free Baptist Church at 23 Bank Street in 1919. They employed fifteen to twenty women for about four years. In October 1923 another company, also a maker of clothing, the Keegan-Grace Company, opened for a few months. After Keegan-Grace closed, Arthur S. Kilburn, who had managed operations for Keegan-Grace, persuaded a group of local men to finance a new company called The Batavia Garment Company. Mr. Raymond Walker, then owner of the old church building, made a number of building alterations to accommodate the new company. The company operated here through 1928, after which the old building was again vacant.

McBride Steel Plate Constuction Company

The McBride Steel Plate Construction Company was started by Robert McBride, a boilermaker, who came to Toronto during World War I to work for the Ingalls Gun Works. He had been born in Ireland and learned his trade in the Belfast shipyards where he had worked on the boilers of the Titanic. In 1922 he moved to Buffalo and a year later came to Batavia to work for the Ferguson-Allan Company. A year or so later he and two other workers formed a partnership and began to make and repair snowplows in a shop on Mill Street. In 1928 Mr. McBride left the partnership and opened a shop on Jefferson Alley, at the rear of 12 Main Street, under the name of the McBride Boiler Works. In 1935 his older son, James McBride, joined him and the company changed from boilermaking to fabrication of sheet and plate metal. In November 1944 the partners needed more space so they bought a building at 19-21 State Street. The building had been originally the Farmers' Sheds of M.B. Langworthy and had been more recently used for automobile storage. At first the McBrides shared the building with the Batavia Trucking Company but eventually the plate metal works occupied the whole building. In 1947 Robert K. McBride, Mr. McBride's younger son, joined his father and brother in the business. At that time the business incorporated as the McBride Steel Plate Construction Company, Inc. Robert McBride became president, James McBride treasurer and Robert K. McBride vice-president. The two younger men assumed an increasing responsibility when their father became semi-retired. He died in Florida in 1956. When the Urban Renewal Agency bought their property the McBride Steel Plate Construction Company chose to build a new plant in the Industrial Park on Pearl Street. They built a one-story building with 23,000 square feet of floor space, to which they moved in June 1972. Two years later they added a 9,000 square foot addition, preparing for a large industrial order they received that year. The firm is now a fabricator of custom steel and stainless steel plates and specializes in pressure vessels. The firm employs about fifty men. Sons of both James McBride and Robert K. McBride are active in the firm.

Kozak Cloth

The Kozak Cloth was the invention of Edward C. Walker whose father, Raymond Walker, had a number of business interests, among them a garage and automobile sales room. Edward Walker was a chemist and had two businesses of his own, The Plumbized Company and the Genesee Chemical Company. The Plumbized Company made lead coated pails that were so good that they never had to be replaced, which limited sales. Edward Walker heard one of his father's clerks remark that there should be an easier way to clean a car than by using a pail and sponge. This remark challenged Mr. Walker into producing a cloth of soft flannel impregnated with a chemical that removed dirt from a metal surface, leaving a shining surface. He called his new invention a Kozak Cloth, remembering that George Eastman had attributed part of the success of his Kodak camera to the name with a hard consonant at each end and another in the middle. After producing the new product for several years in the former clothing factory on Bank Street, he bought the Uni-Lac building on Lyon Street from Mrs. K. B. Mathes about 1940. Kozak Cloths are still made there by the company which is now owned by Mr. Walker's daughter, Mrs. Richard Harding and employs eighteen to twenty people.

Graham Manufacturing Company

One of Batavia's fastest growing industries, Graham Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of heat transfer equipment, was brought here in 1942 by Harold Graham, the founder, and Frederick D. Berkeley. They took the building on Howard Street built for the use of the National Youth Administration and moved their manufacturing machines here. The corporate offices and sales offices remained in New York City until 1977. The move from New York City in 1942 was made because of huge new orders due to the war, mainly parts for tankers. The plant was awarded the Maritime Commission "E" pennant and flew the Victory Fleet Flag all through the war. Mr. Graham died in 1956 and, in 1958, with the help of the Industrial Development Fund of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Berkeley purchased twenty-three and one-half acres on Florence Avenue, diagonally across from the original plant. The company warehouse was already on this site. The chief products of the company were now heat exchangers for oil refineries and chemical processing plants. The older Mr. Berkeley died in 1962 and Frederick D. Berkeley, Jr. became head of the firm. Almost immediately all offices were moved to Batavia. The firm later bought several rival firms and subsidiary firms. Finally, in 1972 Mr. Berkeley began to build on the twenty-three and one-half acres across Howard Street and building continued through the next five years. In May 1977 a new corporate headquarters building was formally opened with Representative Barber B. Conable the chief speaker. The old Youth Administration building is still used and all space available around the building is utilized. Across Howard Street stands a new corporate office and a 30,000 square foot building for producing the new Heliflow Heat Exchangers and fibreglass reinforced plastic products, the chief products of the company. Graham employs about 150 people in Batavia and about as many abroad.

K.B.Mathes Company

K. B. Mathes Company, Kirke B. Mathes was one of the earliest manufacturers to use shells to decorate articles commercially. In 1902 he brought to Batavia the business he had started in Buffalo. He built two small factory buildings on Jefferson Avenue. The office had interior woodwork made by the Batavia and New York Wood Working Company and a fireplace trimmed with decorative tile. Machinery was especially designed for the work of making articles of shells. Workers decorated the shells by hand. Mathes novelties were shipped around the world and one family is said to have purchased a shell soap dish in Singapore, only to find later that it was decorated in the Mathes factory in Batavia. In later years, when it became difficult to get shells, felt pennants and some wooden articles were produced. The number employed expanded from twenty-five people in 1902 to 150 in 1914. About 1914 Mr. Mathes perfected a chemical finish which he called Uni-Lac and which was applied by air-brush to the heels of women's shoes. He built a small factory on South Lyon Street which was shared by Edward C. Walker and his Kozak Company for a few years. After Mr. Mathes died in 1923, the building was sold to Mr. Walker. The factory buildings on Jefferson Avenue had been sold to the E. N. Rowell Company in 1919 and were always referred to at the Rowell Company as factory number two. The Jefferson Avenue buildings were razed in the second Urban Renewal phase.

The Buffalo Cut Glass Company

Many a home in Batavia displays some beautiful examples of cut glass made in Batavia between 1904 and 1920 in a factory on Exchange Place by The Buffalo Cut Glass Company, which had been started in Buffalo in 1902 by Michael J. Kallighan, Daniel J. McGettigan and Joseph H. Schmitt. Mr. McGettigan was the business head of the company and managed sales and advertising. Mr. Schmitt did much of the designing and some of the best pieces the company produced are said to be of his design. All three men had come to the company with considerable experience in glass making. Mr. McGettigan died in 1914, whereupon Schmitt bought out his interest and later bought out Mr. Kallighan's. With his wife, he operated the business until it closed about 1920.


After the Massey-Harris plant on Harvester Avenue closed in 1958 the city was left with 900,000,square feet of available factory space, as well as with a thousand or so unemployed factory workers. The Chamber of Commerce made a valiant attempt to put the factory space to use by renting the buildings as a whole or in small parcels. In July 1959 Charles Mancuso and Son bought the whole area for about $200,000. They set up a new company, The Industrial Center with Joseph L. Mancuso as the manager and offered to rent space in small parcels. Since 1959 probably one hundred small ventures have been set up there, many of whom later moved to larger quarters elsewhere. Among the businesses in the Industrial Center is Robin Fils et Cie, makers of wine and champagne. In 1960, the Coopers, owners of Robin Fils, bought one of the storage buildings facing School Street to expand a business that had sales offices in Great Neck, New York. Neighbor to them, in another storage building, was Tibon Hard Chrome, a subsidiary of the Superior Plating Company of Fairfield, Connecticut which supplied plating on aluminum for companies making small parts for airplanes and engines. Melton Shirts is now a tenant of one of the main buildings in the Center, to which they moved from Liberty Street in 1977. The Del Plato Machine Tool Company was organized in an old office building at 66 Walnut Street by Louis Del Plato and Louis Cinquino in 1956. Needing more space they moved to the Industrial Center in May 1960. The company does all sorts of precision metal work, making parts to order for machines, doing experimental work or repair work for engines. In August 1978 the company, now the Deluxe Machine & Tool Company was purchased by William E. Shea. Mr. Shea bought a building formerly occupied by European Motors on Walnut Street and in May 1980 moved from the Center. The Bercon Packaging Company which makes plastic containers, also occupied space in the Center from 1966 to 1976, moving in November of the latter year to a building on Hall Street just vacated by V. F. Murphy. Murphy had moved to a new place in the Industrial Park on Pearl Street. Guy Charts, Incorporated , a Canadian firm which had started an American subsidiary in 1967, moved to the Industrial Center in 1972. They make machinery that straightens automobile and truck frames. They have moved into a building in the Industrial Park which they have adapted for their use. The Industrial Center is still owned by Charles Mancuso and Son but in August 1976 Gerald Atkinson bought James Mancuso's interest in the company and is now manager. No list is kept of the companies that have been in and out of the Center in the twenty years it has offered space, heat, light and exhibit room to young firms, but the few that have had a successful start there have proved its value.

Kisiel Die Casting Company

Kisiel Die Casting Company was started by Cecil Kisiel in 1940 as a small toy-making operation as a hobby in a workshop behind his home at 116 Otis Street. Six years later he left his job at Doehler Die Casting Company to turn his hobby into a profit-making venture. In 1948 he put up a small cinder block addition to accommodate a new die casting machine and by 1951 business had increased sufficiently for him to build another addition large enough for the forty-four employees who were then working in the plant. A fire in March 1061 destroyed the smaller of the two buildings and in the fall Mr. Kisiel obtained permission to build a wholly new factory to the south of the original plant. It is now at the end of Lehigh Avenue as the relocation of the New York Central tracks cut off the end of Otis Street. Mr. Kisiel's two brothers, Stanley and Henry, were with him in this new venture. Mr. Kisiel died suddenly in April 1972, leaving the business to his son, Cecil. The plant, employing about 145 workers, grew to become one of Batavia's mediumsized industries, making small dies, fixtures and metal parts for engines, many of them to special order.

Batavia Machine and Tool Company

The Batavia Machine and Tool Company on the Lewiston Road is run by Ronald Laesser, nephew of the founder, Raymond Laesser. Raymond Laesser and Walter Walker started a modest machine tool making business in the former wheel factory office building at 66 Walnut Street in October 1943. Three years later, when rapid growth made larger quarters necessary, they built their present building which has been enlarged several times since. The company makes small aircraft components, some of which were used in Gemini which was sent into space in 1964. The firm also cooperates with the Department of Labor by helping to train workers in machine operation under the On-the-job Training Program.

Hub Mold Manufacturing Company

Hub Mold Manufacturing Company which has been on Lehigh Avenue since 1961 steadily employs seven to ten skilled workers. In 1961 William Rider, president of Hub Mold, leased a building built in 1947 by Hickey-Freeman of Rochester and started the business on an experimental basis, to see if there were enough skilled workers in the area for it. When he bought the building two years later, he had ten men working with him. Hub Mold makes forms for parts that have fine details and need expert workmanship. It makes molds for carburetor parts, camera parts, eyeglass frames and utility chests. Some of their molds as small as six inches across while others weigh two tons.

Sylvania Electric

Sylvania Electric opened in Batavia in 1953, on a site on Ellicott Street Road said to have cost $135,000 and given to them by the citizens of Batavia. Sylvania soon became one of the larger employers in the area. It moved out in 1980, leaving acres of factory space without an occupant. Before the business offices were in use in April 1954 workers were assembling television sets on the first production line. By June 1954 a second line was in operation, and 600 workers were employed in the plant. New products were introduced each year: a satelitetracking system in 1963, a cordless television set in 1964, and color television sets in 1966. Between 1954 and 1969 the plant enlarged three times. For several years, the company officials emphatically denied the rumor that a move to Smithfield, North Carolina was contemplated but in October 1970, the company announced that the color production line would move to Smithfield. One-hundred fifty workers were laid off and in December 200 more were let go. A new solid-state color television set, introduced in May 1975, made the prospects look brighter. However, few workers were called back to work. In November 1976 the company announced the end of production in Batavia and all assembly work ceased. Office workers remained in the well-appointed offices and there were a few men still in the supply shop. The rest of the huge plant was empty. Sylvania Electric had joined the General Telephone Company in November 1958 and in October 1980 General Telephone sold its entertainment products line to North American Philips Corporation which had no interest in the Batavia plant and the entire operation was closed. The R. E. Chapin Manufacturing Works bought the Sylvania plant in 198 1. Chapin uses part of the plant for its own business and leases other areas to smaller firms.

O-At-Ka Milk Products Company

The O-At-Ka Milk Products Company began as a small plant on the corner of Cedar Street and Ellicott Street Road but is fast becoming one of Batavia's larger industries. It was set up in 1956, under the sponsorship of five local milk cooperatives, on land purchased from the Ware estate. On May 8, 1959 the first tank truck delivered its first load of milk to the completed processing plant. In 1961 more land was purchased and a warehouse and a new office building was erected. Until these offices were ready company business had been conducted in the old Pixley Cold Storage buildings in Bethany. A new processing building was built in 197 1, in which was installed a falling-film evaporator as well as a new boiler, refrigerator equipment and space for buttermaking. One-hundred forty-four million pounds of milk were processed in 1970. In 1978 another huge warehouse was built and a four story building for the use of spray-dryers was ready for use in mid-1979. The plant was opened and run by Larry Cushing until 1966, when B. L. Hall replaced him as plant manager. Michael F. Herron succeeded Mr. Hall in 1982. The O-At-Ka Plant is an outstanding example of a modern milk processing plant and has visitors from all over the world. Orders are received from India, South America and from many candy manufacturers in Europe. It now employs about sixty people.