Autolite: (9) More Expansion

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From the time Ford Motor Company took over as owner of the Fostoria Spark Plug Plant, there was constant pressure for better quality and more plugs.

It was obvious to the directors of the firm that the Ford sales Group ws really selling the merchandise, and it was essential that the organization do its part and procure the best quality spark plugs to meet the challenge. All methods had to be constantly improved, so that the products could be manufactured at competitive prices.

In order to have better control on costs and quality, a systematic plan was initiated to bring all parts’ manufacturing operations into Fostoria. To reduce cost of the manufacture of each component, new easy, such as “cold-forming” the shells and “glass-sealing” the center electrodes into the insulators, were developed to a very high degree. It was the idea to combine various operations in producing component parts to avoid handling, so that once a part was placed onto a conveyor line, it never stopped until it was assembled and placed in the shipping carton. Ford Motor Company was very receptive to these proposals, and the conditions were right to accept these plans.

As previously mentioned, immediately on “takeover” of the company by Ford Motor , expansion of production floor space was necessary. In the years 1962, 1965, 1966,and 1968 major additions were made.

An interesting ceremony took place in May, 1965 when The Honorable James A. Rhodes, Governor of Ohio, helped Ford officials break ground for the new million dollar Administration Building. Assisting were Richard L. Krabach, state Finance Director, and Phil D. Brubaker, Mayor of Fostoria. This was the first time for Ford Motor without also constructing a manufacturing plant. This modern structure replaced the old Peabody Buggy Works Company building that had previously been revamped and had served as an Administration Building from 1936 to 1966. Now the old building was demolished, and Fostoria lost one of its oldest landmarks.

For the company, this new addition increased its floor space by 90,000 square feet, and allowed for more products to be produced.

In the Ford years of April 13, 1961 to October, 1973, there were made, one billion, six hundred ninety-one million, seven hundred eighty three thousand (1,691,783,000) spark plugs; twenty-four million, fifty thousand (24,050,000) PCV valves; fifteen million (15,000,000) water temperature switches; and twenty-eight million seven hundred thousand (28,700,00) rotor stops. In contrast, the spark plugs made under the Electric Autolite Company, 1936 through April 13, 1961 were nine hundred thirty-seven million, five hundred thousand (937,500,000).

May 10,1967 was an outstanding day for the plant and the city. The “cutting of the ribbon” and dedication the completed Administration building took place. The speaker for the occasion was Mr. F. P. Neuenschwander, State Development Department Director. Representing the owner were: C. H. Patterson, Executive Vice-President, Ford Motor Company; Clinton D. York, General Manager, General Parts Division; John McDougall, Assistant Manager, General Parts Division; and W. E Scollard, General Operations Manager, General Parts Division. Mayor George W. Peeler proclaimed the week or May 7, 1967 as “Ford in Fostoria Week”

By this time employment had risen to 1,600 persons; the annual payroll being approximately $11,000,000; production of spark plugs was up to 126,000,000 per year; and the spark plug plant was responsible for purchases amounting to $13,800,000.

It was no wonder that from the days of apprehension in early 1961, when Ford Motor company purchased the Spark Plug Plant, that Fostoria and surrounding communities came to look upon this outstanding plant as one of the best places to work, and indeed the prosperity of the factory was felt through out the whole northwestern part of Ohio.


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