Logan Clay Products celebrates 125th anniversary
LOGAN – A pillar in the community has reached a major milestone. The Logan Clay Products Company is celebrating its 125th anniversary which is a monumental feat for any business or industry to achieve in this day and age.
It is important to note there are few companies or industries that have remained in business for more than a century and are still providing products as important today as they were when the company was established.
Logan Clay manufactures clay sewer pipe, flue lining, decorative chimney tops, and wall coping.
Logan Clay Products Company was officially founded in 1890 when The Hocking Manufacturing Company was formed and the company began full-time operations. This date marks the founding year for the present plant that is a familiar site to all Logan residents, as well as passersby who travel US 33.
Logan Clay has been a pioneer in the modernization of the clay pipe industry. Plant facilities and equipment are continually updated to produce high-quality products.
Specially blended and formulated clay, mined near Logan, is extruded under high-pressure pipes from four-inch diameter through 24-inch diameter. These pipes are dried and then fired to a point of vitrification.
Vitrification occurs when molecules in the fire clay and shale mechanically bond to become chemically inert. This high temperature firing (2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) results in vitrified clay pipe that has superior strength and is virtually impervious to every chemical except hydrochloric acid. The clay flue liners, chimney tops and wall coping wares are manufactured in a similar fashion.
Clay pipe manufacturing was not established as an industry in the United States until 1868. It began in Logan in 1876 when William M. Bowen organized the Fire Brick & Earthenware Company after making some tests of Hocking Brick fire clay. This was the first clay plant on the present site known as Logan Clay Products.
Hocking Manufacturing Company was formed 14 years later, but after several years of financial difficulties, articles of incorporation of The Logan Clay Products Company were filed on Jan. 4, 1904. Organizers of the company were William E. Pfeiffer and Jacob Pfeiffer of Akron.
In 1905, the newly-formed Logan Clay Products Company purchased the assets of Hocking Clay Manufacturing Company for $150,000. After obtaining possession of the plant, the new owners realized earlier repairs of the plant were only makeshift.
The new owners converted to the manufacture of sewer pipe wall coping, flue lining and chimney tops, very soon after taking over the company, with much money spent in modernizing the rundown facility.
In February 1921, the main factory building was completely destroyed by fire. Plans for rebuilding the plant were started immediately and by September 1921, the plant was back in production. This building is still in use today and is known as Plant 1. This plant prospered and worked steadily until the Great Depression rocked the nation.
From the late 1950s to the present, updates were made at the plant to modernize the production of clay sewer pipe and accessories.
The family tradition at Logan Clay started with Barton A. Holl in 1950 when he purchased controlling interest in the company. Later, his sons, the Barton S. Holl and the Richard H. Holl, joined the company, while his daughter, Elizabeth H. Brandt, served as a director. Grandson, Richard H. Brandt, and great-grandson, William R. “Rudy” Brandt came on board later and continues to manage the company as officers and directors. Sadly, Dick Brandt and his son, Rudy, are the only surviving family members that are associated with Logan Clay Products.
In the latter part of 1957 and the early months of 1958, a new million dollar plant adjacent to the earlier operation was constructed. This plant featured the use of horizontal extrusion machines and was the first plant in the United States designed exclusively for the horizontal handling of sewer pipe.
It was reported that also in 1957, the periodic kilns were converted to gas, which greatly improved the appearance of the product and eliminated the very visible air pollution as a result of the earlier coal firing.
Since that time these periodic kilns have been constantly modernized. The use of more energy efficient burners, better insulation and improved modern devices allow LCP to produce a superior product at a reasonable cost.
In addition, Logan Clay Products reached another milestone in the mid-1980s when the company pioneered the use of personal computers to operate the periodic kilns.
In 1986, Logan’s tunnel kiln underwent extensive renovation. High velocity, energy efficient burners, additional fans for improved air circulation and a state-of-the art computer controlled system were added to the kiln.
Logan Clay officials believe that these extensive improvements throughout the years have allowed them to produce the highest quality pipe manufactured in the United States today.
According to Dick Brandt, chairman and chief operating officer, a key element of the Logan success story has always been the people.
“From production workers to customer service representatives to management, Logan Clay personnel are dedicated to quality service and productivity. The strong element of trust that exists between management and its employees has enabled the company to grow and succeed through the years,” he said.
It was learned that although clay pipe is still in use after 100 years of service in some key cities of the United States, the story of clay pipe began over 5,000 years ago and is one of the world’s oldest industries.
According to Rudy Brandt, LCP executive vice-president, the local clay pipe industry has recovered from the recession that occurred in 2008. “That was a tough time because there weren’t a lot of contracts for construction, so our product was being stockpiled and we were down to about 50 employees. I am happy to say that since the economy has bounced back, we have followed suit as well and now have more than 85 employees and business is doing very well,” Rudy said.
Rudy added that they recently added a new product called No-Dig pipe, which can be installed without digging a trench. “We are always adding new products in keeping with the times. The pipe is forced through the earth by a method called jacking in places where trenches would cause significant disruption of basic services such as crossing roads,” he said.
Logan Clay’s history not only includes record time doing business, as well as legendary customer service, but it also includes decades of continuous employment for its employees with many having worked for the company for over 40 years.
“This has been a good place to work, “ said Jane Weiland, office manager. “People staying for 35 to 40 years and beyond is a testimony of their good opinion.”
The company recently took a group photograph that was staged the same as one taken in 1988 with many of the employees were featured in both photos.
Weiland reported that a customer recently spoke about how his father worked for Logan Clay years ago. Back then, anyone who obtained employment at Logan Clay was considered as “having it made.”
“We still think as highly of Logan Clay as those did in the past, and I’m thankful to be an employee of such a good company, we feel like family here,” Weiland added.
“One of the secrets of the company’s longevity is the commitment to reinvest in the facilities and take on new product lines to stabilize the company’s future,” Dick Brandt said.
“For 125 years, this company has provided employment to thousands of area residents as well as produced pipe for long-lasting sanitary sewer lines for much of the United States. This has been due to the efforts of our associates and high standards of quality and we look forward to continuing that proud tradition,” he concluded.
The late Barton A. Holl added to his legacy by establishing the Logan-Holl Foundation in 1968. The foundation donates at least $30,000 per year to local charities, scholarship funds, community functions and events. Annually, the Holl-Foundation donates $5,000 to Brighten Your Future and the Minnie Bowen Fund that provides scholarships for Logan High School graduates. Since the foundation’s inception, the total contributions to the community have exceeded $968,000.
From Logan Daily | July 1, 2015