Winnebago County, Illinois
National Lock Company
History in the News
INCREASE OF CAPITAL TO $50,000
National Lock Company Files Papers With Secretary of State--Will Enlarge Water Power Plant in Propotion--Business Founded by F.G. Hogland is Growing Rapidly. Main Office Removed to Rockford from Chicago
Increasing business of the National Lock Company, founded by Frank G. Hoglund, formerly of the Illinois Sewing Machine Company, has caused papers paper to be filed with the secretary of state granting an increase of capital stock from $5,000 ro $50,000, with a proportionate increase in the number of directors of the local company. Instead of three directors, seven are to be elected. The company has a factory on the water power, and reports are that the business is growing so rapidly that new men are being added to the force of employes each day. It is intended by the promoters of the enterprise to increase the size of the factory also in proportion to the capital stock change. Although final details are not arranged, it is understood that additional capital, supplemented by the surplus of the company, will make up the amount necessary for the change in stock. Several men who have not been interested in the company before are to take active interest in it. The present directors and officers are F.G. Hogland, E.C. Traner and Levin Faust. Ther former was secretary and treasury of the Illinois Sewing Machine Company until he retired to take up the new manufacturing line. Mr. Traner is purchasing agent for the sewing machine company, and Mr. Faust is secretary and treasurer of the Mechanics Machine Company and secretary of the National Engine Company. With the papers allowing the change in capital stock the directors filed a request for a change of the main offices from Chicago to Rockford. The office of the company will in the future be at the water power plant. The company will continue the one line of manufacture, that of locks for furniture cabinets and desks. This lock has become very popular and is being used by many of the local and other furniture plants. [Rockford Republic, October 21, 1904]
THE MANUFACTURE OF LOCKS RISING BUSINESS IN ROCKFORD
AN INDUSTRY OF FOUR YEARS GROWTH WHICH HAS FAR OUT-STRIPPED ITS FIRST PLANS. ENTERS FIELD OF FURNITURE HARDWARE--MANUFACTURE OF SCREWS A SPECIALTY--MACHINES WHICH DO THE WORK OF INTELLIGENCE
Among the later industries in which some indication is to be found of what the future of Rockford will be is the National Lock company. This is one of the side industries which we owe to the parent furniture interest, it having originally been started for the supply of the numerous Rockford establishments in that line. Its existence is due directly to Rockford business judgement and organizing talent. The city owes this enterprise to Frank G. Hogland, who first established it, four years ago; has planned the enlargement of its field and has conducted its operations. Some conception of the future proportions to which it seems to be growing may be seen in the fact that what Mr. Hogland set out to fill was a field for a simple line of locks, the manufacture of which would employ a capital of about $10,000. The company had not proceeded very far before it became evident that it had within its reach a businesss in related lines which called for greater facilities. Within two years of its inception steps were taken to enlarge its capital to $150.000. In order to provide for the permanent establishment of its facilities a new plant was built on Eighteenth avenue; the company moving there from its rented quarters on the waterpower. With this enlargement it began providing an equipment of special machinery to enable it to turn out its product with the most complete economies in process fabrication. The company makes a series of sizes and style of locks for furniture, including the simple forms used for drawers and other like purposes, and modifications of the Yale lock. The company is the owner of valuable rights in the latter. The locks are turned out by a comparatively simple looking piece of machinery which takes a piece of sheet steel cut to the required shape and passes it around from one die to another, pressing it into the form needed and fitting the pieces; passing from one station to another and issuing finally as a complete lock. The keys are started with the blanks, and go through their own successive stages till complete for use. The company has a capacity for 75,000 locks a days. A later branch of the business is that of making screws. One class, comprising machine screws and stove bolts are rolled between two dies which contain the slant or inclined plane lines in their cutting surfaces. As the screw blanks are rolled between these surfaces the threads are cut into a single motion. They go to a separate process for cutting the slot in the head. The ordinary form of screw used in furniture making (wood screws) is turned on an automatic machines, which takes the blank metal, made with the general form of the screw, and runs it under the cutting point of the threading tool, each going through this motion several times till the tool has cut the threads and reduced the form and size to that required for the finished product. The cutting tool follows the same groove each time till the thread is reduced to the proper edge. The slots in the head are done at another process. The works have a capacity of 144,000 screws a day, which is about sufficient to meet the average requirements of the Rockford furniture factories along. The company had also taken up the manufacture of various brass forms and trimmings required in furniture making. This is an important specialty which is likely to grow for many years. The plans of the National Lock company look to the making of a general line of furniture hardware, not only for the Rockford trade but also for other parts of the country that are dependent on outside sources of supply. The business is one which seems to have no limit. The rapid rise of the business from one employing only a dozen or 20 people to the trquiements of the present large establishment indicates what the future is likely to be under a foresighted management, awake to the opportunities of the business. The machinery required for this purpose comprises much that can only be furnished by special establishments that build the finest process working machinery. Some of the new machinery is built by the company itself. Other machines are the product of plants where orders can only be taken subject to demands which may delay deliveries a year or even much more than that. This will give the general public an idea of some of the difficulties encountered in bringing such a business up to the requirements of its trade. The company has one important piece of equipment which was ordered two years ago, of the best makers of special machinery in the world. The order was taken subject to delivery in this month of July, 1908, and that was the only condition under which the makers could undertake. To the person looking over the rise of this establishment and the field of the demand to which its business organization is bending its efforts the conclusion is obvious that the company is on the threshold of a development which had a good meaning for the coming growth of the city. [Rockford Daily Register Gazette, July 18, 1908]
ROCKFORD PRODUCES FOR PROSPERTY
ROCKFORD'S LARGEST INDUSTRY NOW IN 45TH YEAR OF PROGRESS
THE NATION'S "ALL FROM 1 SOURCE" HARDWARE MANUFACTURER
CABINET HARDWARE--SCREWS AND BOLTS--BUTTS AND HINGES--PLASTIS--REGRIGERATOR HARDWARE--STOVE HARDWARE--LOCKS--FURNITURE TRIM
Founded in 1903, National Lock Company is today Rockford's largest industrial plant. Originally organized to manufacture special patented mortise-type locks for furniture and cabinet use, it now manufactures a diversified line that includes cabinet hardware, screws and bolts, butts and hinges, cabinet and school locks, refrigerator hardware, stove trim, and a large line of miscellaneous and special items made from various metals and plastics.
25 ACRES OF FLOOR SPACE
Its large 6-story plant located on 18th Avenue from 7th Street to 9th Street, and on 7th Street from 19th to 20th Avenue, occupies twenty employes over 3500 men and women and is said to have more automatic and special machinery than any other concern in Northern Illinois. This plant is a far cry from the original plant on Race Street where the first order of locks was manufactured forty-five years ago. Since that time, the Company has progressed steadily by adding new products to further serve industry, and by further improving methods and machines to increase production. This, and a steadfast resolve to produce quality products, has built National Lock Company to its high standard in the industry. It takes more than the few statistics included above to tell the story of National Locak. The products of the Lock Company, with very few exceptions, are all small items, any one of them small enough to be held in the palm of your hand. At the present time, production runs well over sixteen million pieces per day.
A $175,000 pay check--that's a National Lock payroll for one week! It pours into cash registers all over town in a golden flood that spells prosperty! Every Rockford merchant feels the tremendous impact of this buying power. It helps make Rockford a thriving community, a good place to work and live. Although none of the original five employees are now with the Company, there are many old-timers who are still actively engaged in the manufacture and sale of National Lock products. The 25-Year Club has eighty-eight members, two members each having a record of forty years of continuous service. The average service of members of the 25-Year Club is thirty-two years. New members are presented with a diamond-set gold pin and a certificate at the annual dinner for this exclusive group.
A well-planned safety program has earned for National Lock an enviable record as a safe place to work. The Liberty Mutual Safety Award presented last year, was earned by an intensive campaign to reduce job hazards to the minimum. The good results of this campaign were made possible by excellent cooperation between employes and management. Accident prevention pays big dividends--to the community in the form of safer, more secure lives for employees and their families--to management in the form of smoother production and lower costs. When accidents do occur, however, employees are quickly and efficiently treated at the factory hospital which is staffed day and night by competent medial personnel. Many and varied plans available for employee participation include life insurance, health and accident insurance, hospitalization and medical financial aid in the event of death, sickness, or other emergency. A National Lock credit union is also in operation extending loads to employees and offering a convenient method of saving extra cash. A year 'round sports program has been in effect at National Lock Company for many years. In addition to team representation in all sports sponsored by the Rockford Industrial Athletic Association, there are inter-department athletic and recreational activities encouraged by the Company because it believes them to be beneficial to the health and well-being of its employees. The confidence National Lock Company has in Rockford in Rockford is evident by the dynamic expansion plans now under way. Production facilities are being greatly expanded...new products are being planned which will enable it to serve a greater and more diversified market. National Lock Company is working with Rockford, for Rockford...looking ahead to a promising future! [Rockford Register Republic, August 4, 1947]
SUCCESS OF NATIONAL LOCK FIRM TRACED BACK TO '03
The $15-a-month messenger boy who became company president recalled today that growing pains aren't so painful after all when there's a $35,000,000 pot at the end of the industrial rainbow. And the pot could become bigger. That's the opinion of A.J. Strandquist, former National Lock company messenger boy who now spends his working hours as president of Rockford's largest firm. He's currently presiding over the company's 50th anniversary celebration--a year-long affair the company hopes to mark with bigger and better production and sales fugires recorded on business statements. Ready for More National Lock did $4,500,000 in business in 1939, the year after Strandquist became president. Sales hit $35,000,000 in the business year just ended--and if more growing "pains" of that nature are ahead. Strandquist is ready to put up with them. The pains weren't always as pleasant as they've been in the past 14 years, the president recalled. "There were hectic times in the depression," Strandquist said, "but we managed to keep the boat right side up." He was a vice president and director during the touch-and-go days of the early 30's. National Lock president then was Frank G. Hogland. Strandquist stepped into the top job after Hogland's death in 1938. $5,000 Capital Hogland was one of three men who organized the company in 1903, with $5,000 capital, 3,000 square feet of floor space, and an idea for a new cabinet lock. Six workers were on the payroll. Other founders were Emil Traner and Levin Faust. When they needed expansion funds, P.A. Peterson came to the rescue and introduced others to join him. Peterson also served as president before Hogland took over. The initial investment today has been parlayed into the present multi-million-dollar business using more than a million square feet of space. National Lock buyers today select from more that 20,000 products. One of every 25 Rockford residents is a National Lock company worker. More than 3,000 stockholders own a share of the company. Strandquist joined the company in 1914 as a messenger boy. A year later he had charge of the city sales builling and order department. His salary zoomed to $3,000 in 1922 when he moved up to purchasing agent. He joined the top brass in 1929 as a vice president. At 54, Strandquist ranks as the fifth oldest National Lock employ in years with the company 44-Year Man The only workers with seniority over him are Richard Dahlren, set-up man in the lock department with 44 years service; Isidor Gustafson, with 43 years at the company; and George Skinner, foreman in the wood screw packing department, and Edwin W. North, vice president in charge of research, both with 41 years service. Other executives are Mark A. Sommer, executive vice president and treasurer; A.H. Charles, vice president and general sales manager; John R. Sommer, John G. Kraman, Fred Weymouth, and John Remington, all vice presidents; Hulda A. Johnson, secretary; and F.R. Palm, assistant secretary and assistant treasurer. Others officers are Reuben E. Sommer, chairman of the board; Daniel P. Sommer, Walton B. Sommer, and W.A. Weymouth, vice presidents; Cark A, Samuelson, comptoller; and Richard E. Carlson, assistant secretary. Strandquist also carries the title of general manager. [Rockford Register Republic, September 21, 1953]
3 PIONEER INDUSTRIALISTS FOUNDED NATIONAL LOCK
National Lock Company was founded May 5, 1903, by three Swedish immigrants to manfacture a mortise-type cabinet lock invented by one of its founders. Levin Faust, a machine-tool manufacturer and inventor of the cabinet lock, P.A. Peterson, pioneer Rockford furniture manufacturer, and industrialist Frank G. Hogland combined forces to introduce cabinet hardware to Rockford. The three put up $5,000 for factory space, equipment and reserve payroll to hire eight men. The mortise lock was rapidly accepted, as shown by National Lock's growth from a net worth of $5,000 to $150,000 and from eight employees to 125. The first building in the group that now houses the company's hardware operations was constructed in 1909. In 1919 the company built expanded facilities at 1902 7th St.--the central six-story building of its present hardware plant--spanning most of a city block and set off by a 10-story clock tower at the entrance that has been a Rockford landmark sinc. Continued growth during the 1920s required further expansion, to the point that the hardware plant covered four city blocks. By 1920 National Lock was one of Rockford's largest employers. Within six years of its founding, the company had branched into general hardware manufacturing. It added threaded fasteners to its line just before the outbreak of World War I. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, National Lock also entered the furniture-trim, refrigerator and stove-hardware fields. "The Lock," as it was commonly called, was controlled by Hogland until his death in 1938. Shortly thereafter the Keystone Steel and Wire Company, Peoria, purchased controlling interest in National Lock. During World War II National Lock was a major supplier of aircraft fasteners, ammunition box hardware, and other military products. In 1971 Keystone split its Rockford-headquartered operations into two divisions, National Lock Hardware Division and National Lock Fastener Division. [Rockford Register Star, August 26, 1982]
THE RISE AND FALL OF NATIONAL LOCK
A SHORT HISTORY OF HOW, AND WHY, A KEY ROCKFORD COMPANY EVOLVED INTO A SHADOW OF ITS BOOOMING ILLUSTRIOUS PAST
For many, it was a magnet, drawing people from all over the city, from the region and from the South to its massive, hulking plant at 7th Street and 18th Avenue. It was a native-born company that took an active role in employees' lives, even after it was bought by out-of-town interests. It was a major force in the community, training hundreds--perhaps thousands--of tool-an-die makers, many of whom went on to form their own companies and employ thousands more. It gave its executives time to work on hospital drives and United Fund campaigns.
It is National Lock Co.--now known as National Metalcrafters Inc.--founded in 1903 by three Rockford industrialists who saw a way to make a profit selling hardware to local furniture manufacturers.
It started with eight employees in 1903. At its peak in the early 1940s it employed 4,200. Now the workforce is down to 300.
The rise and fall of National Lock in many ways reflects the fortunes of its home city. It began with the furniture industry when Rockford was a furniture center, expanded into the metalworking businesss when Rockford became a metal-forming hub, then began to contract in the 1970s and, with removal of the hardware division to South Carolina last year, became for many a symbol of a dying Rockford with a shrinking industrial base. Along the way National Lock became a subsidiary of a Peoria company and was saved from death; it built an award-winning factory in 1957; its parent firm was taken over by a Texas multimillionaire in 1981. Now it is holding steady in its Rockford operations, and executives offer little hope the company ever again will be what it was.
When Levin Faust, P.A. Peterson and Frank G. Hogland got together in 1903, Rockford was a thriving furniture center, second in the United States only to Grand Rapids, Mich. The impetus for forming the company was a mortise lock--familiar to many as the lock on the top drawer of a chest of drawers or in a desk drawer. It was invented by Faust, probably best known for the Faust Hotel on East State Street, now known as Tebala Towers. Hogland was the only one of the three to take an active role in running National Lock. He was president until his death in 1938.
It wasn't long after the company was formed that it expanded into other products, including screws, bolts and other types of fasteners, as well as other kinds of locks. One of the most famous products is the school-locker combination lock, invented by Edwin North, who started at National Lock in 1912 and still lives in northeast Rockford.
In the 1930s, National Lock manufactured such items as automobile spotlights, spark plugs, plastic radio cabinets and venetian blinds.
The 1950s saw a move into specialized fasteners, more plastics and home hardware for the retail market. National Lock also produced a wide array of other products, ranging from plastic trains for Cracker Jack boxes to metal ashtrays that could be clipped onto card tables to make-up lights for women.
The 1960s and 1970s saw foreign competition take away the fastener market and begin to encroach on the hardware market.
The company's Rockford operations went into a slow decline that finally culminated in National Lock Hardware Division's move to Spartanburg, S.C., announced in August 1982. That action sparked a bitter strike by union workers, which continues to this day and has left a bad taste in the mouths of many longtime employees now retired.
"I'm kind of sad about the way things are turning out there," said one retired executive who worked at the company for more than 50 years and asked he not be quoted by name.
Others feel the same sadness for a once proud and thriving company. Said Fred Helton, a retired union member. "I can hardly bear to pass the hardware plant," Helton said. The feelings employees hold for their company came from a longtime association with a corporation that treated its employees well and offered them secure jobs.
Many retirees remember their work llives fondly, mentioning that the company usually was fair in its labor relations. Most add they have no regrets about the time they put in at National Lock. But most say they wouldn't want to work there now, that labor relations changed about three years ago.
"It was good to me. I'm not knocking it," said Howard Lahre, who worked for National Lock from 1940 until he retired in 1979. "I never made a million, but I made a living. I was never out of work. I always had enough clothes on my back and something to eat."
The family oriented mood of much of Rockford was reflected in National Lock. It was a family to many employees--in fact, it literally involved many members of the same family.
"It didn't matter who you contacted--somebody was connected with National Lock. Either their grandparents, or their mother or their brother or their sister worked at National Lock," said Burdette Carlson, who started as a summer employee in 1933 and retired in June 1975 as vice president of administration.
"My whole family has worked there at one time or another," Lahre added. "Back in those days, in order to get in, you had to have pull." Lahre's mother, father, two sisters, brother, brother-in-law and four cousins all worked at National Lock.
If National Lock was a family, F.G. Hogland was the father, totally involved in running his household. He was a president who knew most of the employees by name "and who they were related to," as one former execute put it.
Hogland ran National Lock from a desk in an open office area where anyone could approach him with any problem.
Carlson, who duties early in his National Lock career included chauffering Hogland around town, described him as "a unique person and very thrifty."
"It was nothing for him to come into the office at 7 o'clock in the morning," Carlson said.
Burt Grenburg, who started at National Lock in 1925 and as vice president of sales when he retired in 1970, said of Hogland: "He was into the minutest detail you could ever imagine."
Hogland himself fielded calls from customers when they failed to recieve notification that their orders had been shipped, Grenburg said.
"I had instances when Mr. Hogland would come down to me as ask whether or not an invoice went out on a certain date shipment was made. F.G. would think we didn't get the invoice out in time. Boy, he was a stickler on that thing," Grenburg said.
As with Rockford and the rest of the nationa, National Lock was rocked on the waves of the Great Depression. By 1938, the company was close to sinking. Lontime employees recall that even routine maintenance was neglected, that windows were brokern, new equipment was not bought.
Carlson recalled that employees in the accounting department staggered their shifts, working only two or three days a week so none would be laid off.
The Depression also brought National Lock another first--the first strike in Rockford at a major industry, according to Sinnissippi Saga, a history of Rockford. The details are sketchy, but the book says the 20-week strike in 1933 was an attempt by workers to force National Lock to comply with the National Industrial Recovery Act.
Carlson, who worked in the mailroom in the 1930s, recails a morning when National Lock was brought back from the brink of extinction by a check in the mail.
It was 5:30 a.m. He was sorting the mail when Hogland tapped him on the shoulder. "Mr. Carlson," he said, "I'm looking for a big check from Seeger Refrigerator. If you run across that, would you be so kind as to bring it up to my office.?"
Recounted Carlson: "Finally, here I find Seeger Refrigerator...So I took and opened it up. Sure, here was a nice check in there, and I looked at that, and I just sat and looked, and I looked--an $80,000 check! Image now, I'm making only $60 a month. And I looked at it--$80,000!"
Added Grenburg, "It meant a lot to F.G. because he was having financial difficulties." By 1938 the company was heavily in debt, and some of those involved with the firm were seeking a replacement for Hogland. Before a successor could be found, he died.
"He died on December 13, Friday the 13th," Grenburg said. "He wouldn't come to work on Friday the 13th, he was so superstitious."
When Hogland died, A.J. Strandquist, a top executive under Hogland, became president and immediately began negotiations with Keystone Steel and Wire, one of National Lock's creditors, to persuade that company to buy an interest in National Lock.
Keystone bought control of it for $482,000 in May 1939. The difference was apparent right from the start, retired executives say.
"There was an infusion of blood and money and activity that just revitalized National Lock," said Duncan Brown, who held various executive jobs with National Lock and was manager of employee relations with Keystone when he retired last year. "They made it possible for National Lock to reach the peak of its operation--profitwise, volume and employment of personnel," Grenburg said. With the coming of World War II, National Lock boomed: Employment and production increased, sales and profits were up. The company moved into production of war-related products, including firing mechansims, rifles, handles for ammunition cases, bronze bolts for mine sweepers, part for bombs and propeller pistons. Shortly, after the war, the UAW succeeded in organizing National Lock, after earlier attempts had failed. Some union members who worked at National Lock at the time speculated the influx of new workers during the war and their changing ethnic backgrounds brought the union success in 1946. "It was a different era. We had all the Swedes before. As all the Swedes left,--people who came from other countries, they had different notions," said Ruby McKenna, who started at National Lock in 1942. Ellsworth Geiger was one of the UAW organizers at National Lock. "It was more or less the working conditions," Geiger said of why the union was able to organize the plant in 1946 when earlier attempts had failed. "I worked in the plating department, and we had lye tanks and chemical tanks with no covers and no ventilation." Money, he said, really wasn't a factor in the organizing effort. Organizing the plant's workers was not difficult, although there was resistance from older empoyees, Geiger added. "They just couldn't see it right away. They had to have everything explained to them, right down to an ant's eyebrow."
Retired union members are almost unanimous in agreeing the company and the union got along fairly well over the years, although there seemed to be the usual friction between salaried and hourly employees. Stan Meyer, president of UAW Local 449, representing National Lock employees, said he thinks labor relations at the company have deteriorated only over the past three years. Meyer was a union trustee for four years and vice president for six before he was elected president in 1981. He began his active role with the union in the late 1960s. "From that point until three years ago, I think generally we had a pretty good relationship with the company...Generally, things went pretty smooth." Meyers attribute those good relations to local management. "As long as Strandquist and (Superintendent John G.) Kraman were there, Keystone was not real active. It didn't make its presence felt. After they retired, more of the control shifted over to Keystone," he said. After the war, the boom continued. It seems all retirees have stories about they applied at National Lock and were hired immediately. "I just went out and applied for a job, and they hired me right off the bat," said Fred Helton. As National Lock boomed, it became so desperate for employees it sent buses to Arkansas to bring workers northward. And as Rockford spread out in the 1950s, so did National Lock. In 1957, the company moved part of its operations from the heart of Rockford's southeast quarter to near the airport. The company had built 28 additions to its original plant and was bursting of the seams. "At that time, all of the hardware manufacturing and all of the screw and bolt manufacturing were located at 7th Street and 18th Avenue," recalled Leonard Weeg, who was a National Lock executive from 1948 to 1977. "So when you talk about 4,200 people, we were jammed into that facility. It was body-to-body, three shifts. "The lights never went out," Carlson added. "the machines never stopped." Weeg recalled that a warehouse being built in the mid-1950s became another manufactuing plant before it was even finished. Strandquist, started National Lock in 1914, remained president until 1963. He was involved in the company's day-to-day operations as Hogland had been. On the first of every month, Carlson recalled, he called Strandquist when the month's accounting was finished, no matter what time of night or morning it was, and gave him the month's totals. Strandquist wrote the sales, orders and bank-balance figures on a single sheet of paper. That would be his sole reference for running the company--and he would keep them all stacked on his desk, where he could refer to them and know what trends the company's sales were following, Carlson said. In the mid-1960s, National Lock halted production of standard fasteners in the face of foreign competition. "You couldn't make a nickel on standard screws," Grenburg said. The company started making decorative hardware for the home market at that time, however, and continues to manufacture that today in the South Carolina plant. National Metalcraft still produces specialty fastners at it Kishwaukee Street plant. The current labor relations situation extends far beyond Kishwaukee Street. Keyston Consolidated, as the parent company is now known, has become embroiled in several lawsuits initiated by the union. One contends the company violated its contract with the union by moving the hardware plant out of town. The suit asks that National Metalcrafters be ordered to return the factory to Rockford, a move that is not without precedent. What the final outcome of that case--and each side professed optimism the ruling with be in its favor--the decision is sure to be appealed. In another suit, the union contends the company underpaid the pension fund by $2.6 million and asked that National Metalcrafters be required to pay the money. An arbitrator has ruled in favor of the union. But when the company didn't pay the union took it to federal court, where a judge is awaiting a clarification on the arbitrator's ruling. Finally, union officials say they plan to join a suit against Howard Simmons, the Texas financier who controls Keystone. The union contends he has misused pension funds. National Metalcrafters also is looking for a buyer for its Kishwaukee Street plant, the one that won an award in 1947 as one of the best-designed industrial plants in the country. Ron Moore, director of industrial relations, said National Metalcrafters has no plans to leave Rockford, however, if a buyer for the plant can be found, the operations will simply move to smaller quarters. He emphasized, however, the company plans to stay in Rockford. National Plasticrafters and National Metalcrafters both manufacture in Rockford. Metalcrafters makes a variety of formed-metal products such as leg levelers for appliance, striker bars (the things doors latch to) and specialty fasteners. Plasticrafters makes a variety of plastic products for cars, including hubcaps, cruise-control housings and other items. It also produces about 5 million screwdriver handles a year. Both divisions sell about 50 percent of their products to the automotive industry, and general managers of both say they have plans to diversify somewhat. Plasticrafters General Manager William Eilders said his division is trying to become more market-oriented--that is, it is trying to see which markets have a need for products his division can built. He also said Plasticrafters is going after the "pizzazzier" markets, such as computers or word processors. Metalcrafters General Manager Jack Merdinger said the emphasis in his divsion is on equality and increasing sophistication. Neither general manager, however, would hazard a guess as to the future growth of either division in Rockford. But they did say both divisions will stay here. Although National Lock now is only a shadow of its former self in Rockford, its impact continues to be felt through its descendants. If F.G. Hogland was the father to National Lock, he is the grandfather to many other local firms that were born when the men who received their training at National Lock left to form their own companies. Grenburg saids at least 15 large employers in Rockford and innumerable small machine shops were spun off from National Lock. Among the most notable and successful have been Amerock Corp., now a division of Anchor-Hocking Corp.; Elco Industries; Rockford Screw Products, now Rockford Products and a division of Rexnord Corp.; Wales-Beech; Camcar, now a division of Textron; and Mid-States Screw. And the spin-off hasn't ended yet. Just last year, Rockford Process Control took on a line of products from National Lock and set up shop in part of the original building. [Rockford Register Star, November 20, 1983]
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