March 28, 2012
In commemoration of Industry Week, I thought it would be interesting to review the past while focusing on the present.
1946 was a good year. World War II was finally over and the public was anxious for things to get back to normal. However, for Sedalia there was one caveat: The Missouri Pacific Shops, Sedaliaís largest employer, was laying off workers.
After World War II, production at the shops declined steadily not only because the war lessened demand but because the steam engines were being replaced by diesel electric engines.
By 1947, industry in Sedalia exploded. One of the players already in place was American Disinfectant Company (ADCO), manufacturers of industrial soaps and cleaners.
Lamyís Clothing, a well-established work clothing manufacturer of menís pants and coveralls in 1946 secured a contract to produce the Levi brand of menís pants.
The No. 5 stamped on the inside of the waist button poured through the factory at the rate of 12,000 per day employing 450 people until 1998, when production was shifted to Mexico.
Another major manufacturer was Town & Country Shoes, which made thousands of shoes for women. It was located on Missouri Avenue just north of Main Street. Wolverine purchased it, and it disappeared.
Zephyr Manufacturing, founded in 1927 by Harry E. Lindstrum, made straw brooms before moving to 200 Mitchell Road in 1992.
R.J. Lindstrum, the fourth generation to head the company, told me the company has shifted to producing mops, which are sold all over the world.
Schien Truck Line, a cartage company, began in 1920 by Otto Schien and continued under the leadership of Bill Schien until the mid-1950s when it was sold to Hussmann-Roper.
Picking up the yoke of delivering materials to various growing businesses was Ditzfeld Transfer, established in 1947. In 1960, John Ditzfeld purchased control of the company and moved from the old railroad depot to the Orscheln warehouse on North Missouri Avenue. When his son, Ron, took over, he moved the business to the Thompson Meadows Industrial Park.
Now his son, Steve, is following in his footsteps. The company has 52 semi-tractors and 132 trailers operating in all 48 states and 11 Canadian provinces.
Zephyr Manufacturing is the only one left that is still manufacturing something and owned by local residents.
If you traveled west U.S. Highway 50 in 1946 you would see a much different scene than you do today.
Beginning at State Fair Boulevard (the city limits stopped there), Wayne Richardsonís grocery was the first business on the corner (where Dennyís restaurant now is). Continuing on the south side of the highway adjacent to the railroad spur was Schreinersí Sinclair service station (now Arbyís restaurant) and that was it.
In 1947, Bob Parkhurst began constructing Parkhurst Manufacturing Company 400 feet west of the city limits.
By 1950, spaces started filling in along the highway. Hinkens Phillips 66 was located next to Richardsonís. Then Dentís Motor Courts filled in the space to Herold Avenue. Next to Parkhurst on the west was Mansfield M-H Implement Company, then Skyline Night Club at the corner of Griffith Avenue.
In the mid-1950s the first modern motel in Sedalia was built to fill in the gap to Schreinerís, aptly named the Sedalia Motel (where AutoZone now is).
Today all is changed.
So what kept Sedalia alive and growing? Large corporate manufacturing. Pittsburgh Corning started the trend 65 years ago. Then came Gardner Denver; Hayes Lemmerz (which became Maxion Wheels in February); Alcan Cable; WireCo; Duke Manufacturing and Waterloo Industries, plus the new kid on the block, ProEnergy Services.
These large, stable corporate industries provide us with good wages, good benefits and steady employment. They also provide us with a myriad of supporting businesses to serve them and their needs. †
Letís tip our hats to the industries we enjoy here and support them at every opportunity.