Albion Interactive History / Businesses / Union Steel Products

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Industry

Union Steel Products Company, 1903
    Closed 1969

    Demolished 2000

Builder +
Perry T. Sharp (1873-1951)
David Lewis Trine, plasterer

The Union Steel Products Company was organized in Battle Creek in January of 1903 and was then known as the Union Steel Screen Company Ltd.

In 1904 the company moved to Jackson, where they remained until October 1905 when they moved to Albion and brought with them, all told, 7 men. This was the real starting point of the growth of the organization. The plant was first located in a building right south of the Michigan Central Station on the southwest corner of N. Clinton and Michigan Street, and remained there until 1907. After Union Steel moved to N. Berrien St., the first building became the headquarters of the Albion Bolt Company. P44

When the company arrived from Jackson they were manufacturing only two articles, a sand screen and an oven rack. In the fall of 1906, after a very hectic year, a new board of directors was elected, consisting of Dr. E.L. Parmeter, John G. Brown, C.T. Wiselogel, E.R. Loud, and George E. Dean. This new board elected as manager, George E. Deam who continued in that position for many years.

It was apparent that the company never would advance far until new lines were added to those being manufactured, so refrigerator shelving and fan guards were added, and, a little later on, bakery equipment, and it has been these standard lines that have enabled the company to grow.

Since 1906 there have been various changes in the board of directors, the following men have served at different times, Frank L. Sutherland of Detroit; B.D. Brown of Albion, and Fred Sindecuse of Albion. The latest board elected consists of the following: Dr. E.L. Parmeter, C. Reginald Smith, Brockway Dickie, W. Clark Dean, and George E. Dean.

From 1907 the company has shown a remarkable growth, and from a payroll of 7 men the company has grown until in 1929 they had as many as 450 people employed. In 1907 the company owned no real estate, but at the present time they own all of their buildings, covering approximately four city blocks.

The equipment anad material manufactured in this plant goes to all parts of the globe and covers many lines. The diversification of lines has, to a largeextent, kept the company from completely closing during bad times. Some of the items manufactured are as follows: oven shelves, refrigerator shelves, fan guards, bake ovens, bakers racks, dough troughs, proof boxes, building accessories, etc.

Officers in 1964 were Dewey H. Bitney, vice-president; W. Clark Dean, charman of the board; Paul C. Ewbank, president; Norman B. Davey; treasurer; Leonard Butters, secretery; William A. Aris, assistant secretary-treasurer; Carl W. Steinhauer, vice-president. P45

Union Steel Products was sold to Eagle Pitcher Industries in 1969. They later sold it in 1982. P45

Source: George E. Dean in Krenerick, Miriam. Albion’s Milestones and Memories. Albion, MI: Art Craft Press. 1932.

Source: Frank Passic. A Pictorial History of Albion, Michigan; From the Archives of the Albion Historical Society. Dallas, Texas: Curtis Media Corporation. 1991.

Source: Frank Passic.

The recent announcement that the City of Albion will be receiving $650,000 in statefunds to demolish portions of the abandoned Union Steel Products complex just south of the Junior High School is certainly welcome news. Councilman Bill Wheaton has been trying for years to get N. Huron St. reopened to traffic. This will greatly help with traffic flow around the school and reduce traffic on the other side streets, especially Bidwell St. whose narrow width was not designed to handle the traffic it gets due to Huron St. being closed.

It is hard to believe that this was once the site of one of Albion’s major employers which had more than 1,000 persons on the payroll. It was also sad to see the company go “downhill” during the 1970s and 1980s following its original sale in 1969 and subsequent sales. During World War II, Union Steel produced items for the military, and received the Army-Navy “E” award for excellence. The company newsletter “Union Steel Messenger” was filled with family type photographs and stories for many years, indicating it personal involvement in the Albion community.

The Union Steel Screen Company was organized in Battle Creek on December 31,1902. It operated there in cramped quarters for a year with a payroll of 10 persons. It moved to Jackson in 1904, and then came to Albion in 1905 after 40 Albionites became stockholders in the firm. President of the firm was R. F. Agnew; George E. Dean was secretary; John G. Brown served as treasurer. The firm first made two products: a sand screen, and an oven rack.

The firm was first located here on the southwest corner of W. Michigan and N. Clinton Streets. Later the site became the headquarters of the Albion Bolt Company, which burned in 1931. You can still view the foundations of the building under the billboards which are now located there. Union Steel was located here for three years, and in 1908 moved to its permanent headquarters on N. Berrien St. The new plant was a one story brick structure (formerly the Elms Buggy Company) adjacent to the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad tracks.

As the firm increased its product line, it expanded its facilities. The name was changed to Union Steel Products in 1915, and the rest is history. For many years Union Steel Products was the world’s largest manufacturer of oven and broiler pan shelves. President of the firm from 1916 to 1932 was George E. Dean, a former bicycle dealer and sidewalk contractor. He died in 1932, and was succeeded by his son W. Clark Dean, who served as a major of Albion from 1945 to 1946.

Source: Frank Passic, UNION STEEL ORIGINALLY LOCATED JUST WEST OF DOWNTOWN ALBION, Albion Recorder, November 17, 1997, pg. 4-A

Union Steel Products was organized in Battle Creek at the end of 1902. It first had ten employees and operated in cramped factory quarters, as pictured here. The firm moved to Jackson in 1904, and in 1905 came to Albion where it remained. Union Steel manufactured bakery equipment and wire products, and was known world-wide. the name was changed to Union Steel Products in 1915. This is the first building in Battle Creek, 1903.

First Albion site of Union Steel Products, on the southwest corner of N. Clinton and Michigan Streets. Biew looking southwest. Manager of the new factory was George E. Dean, who was named president of the company in 1916. After Union Steel moved to N. Berrien St., this building became the headquarters of the Albion Bolt Company.

A new Union Steel office building was built in 1919 on the corner of N. Berrien and E. Pine Sts.

1964 Union Steel Officers. Front row: Dewey H. bitney, vice-president; W. Clark Dean, chairman of the board; Paul C. Ewbank, president. Back row: Norman B. Davey, treasurer; Leonard Butters, secretary; William A. Aris, assistant secretary-treasurer; Carl W. Steihauer, vice-president. Union Steel Products was sold to Eagle Pitcher Industries in 1969. They later sold it in 1982.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.