HISTORY OF AMES BALDWIN WYOMING CO PARKERSBURG PLANTS
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On the eve of the American Revolution, Ames shovels were leading the way in tugging at the bonds to a foreign power. Now 210 years and an American history book later Ames. Co. of Parkersburg is among the soldiers in the war to keep American industry strong against the onslaught of world competition As the Ames Co. we have been for the past three plus years experiencing a softening of our business said I. R. Phillips, industrial relations manager. In fact, the company's past accounting year, which ended Sept. 30 saw a slightly softer market for Ames products than in the previous year. The reasons for the softened market are a general down turn in economic conditions but mainly the impact of imports Phillips said. They are taking some of our volume away from us. The solution, like the source of Ames' past success, is a Protestant work ethic -work harder to be more successful.
We need to do everything we can to increase and reduce costs to turn that thing around. We're confident we can Phillips said. With hard work we can make the improvements to get there. That's how the company got started in 1774 when the son of a Puritan theologian decided to defy the restrictive English mercantile system and make the only metal shovels in the colonies. John Ames, who later earned the rank of captain in the revolutionary army, rounded a company that hitched its destiny to that of America. The product was far better than the usual wooden shovel produced in the colonies in the 1700s. And the Ames shovel soon became considered equal in quality to imported English tools.
In war Ames shovels were always there. Ames entrenching tools were used in the Revolution in the War of 1812, in the Mexican War during the Civil War, in the Spanish-American War, in World War I and World War II, in Korea and in Vietnam. In peace, Ames shovels were first used by the captain's farmer-neighbors in Bridgewater, Mass. But the geographic restriction wouldn't last as the company supplied the tools that cleared the way westward. Ames shovels were used by both crews working to tie together the trans continental railroad and in digging the- Panama Canal.
John Ames passed the enterprise on to son Oliver in 1803 and the company saw its third factory open at Easton, Mass. in 1834. But it was a century later when the company came to Parkersburg. In 1931, Baldwin Tool Works, which had been operating a plant on Parkersburg's Broadway Avenue since 1910, merged with Ames Shovel and Tool Co. and six other hand tool manufacturers from Pennsylvania, Illinois and Indiana. Then the new Ames, Baldwin and Wyoming Co. continued to operate plants in Easton until 1952 and Parkersburg.
Ames Baldwin and Wyoming Co. gained another Parkersburg plant in 1942 when it acquired what is now its No. 2 plant by buying out the Donovan Boiler Works, which had built the facility in 1920. By 1955,when the company had its headquarters in Parkersburg, Ames Baldwin and Wyoming was taken over by Bernard McDonough, who built a fortune after immigrating at the age of 16 from Ireland and, incidentally, working in an Ames forge room. The company was renamed O. Ames Co. which later became the McDonough Co. In the 30. years since, the com pany's research and development people have been looking beyond shovels and their present garden tool line to practice their ingenuity. Ames now makes more than 1,000 products, including rakes, hoes, cultivators, post hole diggers, forks and hooks, shears for grass cutting and shears for pruning, saws, hose reels and hoses, wheelbarrows, spreaders and hand trucks. Ames. a subsidiary of Hanson Trust of London. England, since that company bought out McDonough in 1981,has four manufacturing facilities, including two plants on Camden Avenue. A plastic molding plant is in Elyria, Ohio. The fourth is a small shear tool plant in Reading, Pa. Ames also owns seven sawmill plants.
The distribution of Ames products takes two distinct paths. The bulk of the company's sales goes to distributors who sell to retail markets. Ames also sells a line of lawn and garden tools under the name Douglas Products.
The company's Parkersburg operation uses a 1000 member workforce. A think tank department is located at the Ames Distribution Center built in 1973 in Davisville that introduces five to eight new tools a year. Ames bills itself as the world's largest shovel producer. The company is the oldest brand name manufacturer in the hard ware industry and these condor third oldest continuing business in the country. mostly because of the cheap Chinese shovels Ames closed the Parkersburg Plants in September 15, 2005
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