"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"

Encyclopedia Dubuque

www.encyclopediadubuque.org




FARLEY AND LOETSCHER MANUFACTURING COMPANY

From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Jump to: navigation, search
Farley and Loetscher produced the nationally recognized "Qualitybilt" brand.
Advertisement. Photo courtesy: William K. Hammel
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
FARLEY AND LOETSCHER MANUFACTURING COMPANY. Once the largest mill working plants in the world. Farley and Loetscher began humbly on January 1, 1875 when Christian LOETSCHER, a twenty-five-year-old Swiss immigrant, opened a mill working business.

The firm, with only two employees, operated from a 16- by 20-foot second floor space leased from the Key City Mill. (1) In 1876 Loetscher formed a partnership with A. B. Carlin and J. Rickard. The company, renamed Clark, Rickard and Company, bought the KEY CITY PLANING COMPANY and remained a small millwork factory. (2)

Jesse P. FARLEY became the principal partner in the company in 1879 by investing $75,000 in a three-story building at Eighth and Jackson STREETS. In 1881 the company was incorporated as the Farley and Loetscher Manufacturing Company. Farley served as president until his death. (3)

Ink Blotter. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

Loetscher pioneered the use of west coast white pine lumber in 1900 as the company branched out to markets around St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Des Moines, Iowa. The "Qualitybilt" brand of sash and doors became nationally recognized. In 1905 the company announced the construction of a solid block of buildings in Dubuque. The firm asked the city council for the vacation of the alley running through the block bounded by Jackson, Washington, Seventh and Eighth streets. It also asked for the right to lay track and switch to the right of the proposed new building. (4)

In 1910 records indicated that the company annually produced 500,000 windows and 300,000 doors. (5) In addition the company manufactured frames, mouldings, blinds, stairwork and interior finish. Between 1,200 and 1,500 carloads of lumber were used annually. (6) The company owned and operated its own electric light company and maintained a crew of electricians to care for it and the telephone systems used in the plant. (7)

By 1927, when the company was led by J. A. Loetscher, Christian's son, the firm occupied buildings covering twenty-three acres. The company also maintained subsidiary companies. Loetscher and Burch Manufacturing Company operated in Des Moines. Another subsidiary was Roberts Sash and Door Company of Chicago. (8)

The company in 1930 was an employer of between eight hundred and nine hundred people. (9) The seven company buildings covered five city blocks. Each of the buildings, except for three warehouses, were connected by bridges that crossed over the streets.

One of the structures was the largest building in Dubuque until the development of the JOHN DEERE DUBUQUE WORKS. In 1904 Christian Loetscher attended the St. Louis Exposition and bought forty huge timbers, each 13 by 11 inches and up to sixty feet in length, when the exhibition buildings were being dismantled. These were shipped back to Dubuque and used in the construction of a building described as "the largest lumber shed in the world." Thirty-two timbers were placed around the perimeter of the cupola while eight were spaced at intervals along the center of the building. In 1930 this building easily stored 6 million feet of lumber. (10)

Staircase plans. Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Staircase plans.Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Staircase partially finished.Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Staircase ready for finishing.Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Staircase Department of Farley and Loetscher. Image courtesy" Karl J. Kasel
Joseph Kasel (left) visiting with Frank Berens in the Staircase Department of Farley and Loetscher. Joe Kasel started at Farley and Loetscher at the age of 16, in 1907, and worked 46 yrs. At age 21, he became foreman of the stair department on the 5th floor. His father, John Kasel, also worked there for 46 yrs., starting in 1884, when he arrived from Luxembourg. His son, Joe was his boss by 1914 got 35 cents per hour, while John only got 27 cents per hour.Image courtesy" Karl J. Kasel
Payroll book from 1914.Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel

Years before recycling became known, Farley and Loetscher gathered waste chunks of wood and all the sawdust. This was transported to the roof of one of the buildings to a funnel-shaped named "the hog." There the material was ground to fine dust which was carried to the basement. Specially designed boilers received the dust from a moving track. When burned this dust provided all the heat for the buildings.

The company's electricity was generated by a dynamo within the plant. A newspaper article of 1930 especially praised a new product "Formica" which resisted heat, cold and water. Unlike some companies of the time, however, there was no commissary so nearby businesses benefited from the purchases of food. (11)

In 1942 the company qualified for an "Honor Flag." Issued by the Treasury Department, the flag was issued on the basis of a company's employees participating in buying United States War Savings Bonds. More than 1,100 employees were purchasing bonds through payroll deduction according to Dubuque County War Bond Committee representatives. (12)

The end of WORLD WAR II meant that the production of doors, windows, and other supplies that had gone to the military simply shifted to civilian use. There was no need to replace equipment or retrain employees. (13) The only problem was the need in 1944 to hire four hundred more employees due to the demand for products. (14) In addition to new homes, surveys nationwide indicated that 34% of homeowners were planning renovations. FARLITE, a plastic sold to the government for use in signal corps radio equipment and table tops, would be provided for civilian use. (15)

Employment peaked at 1,250 and dropped to five hundred prior to 1960 when Clear Fir Sales Company, a trust headed by W. H. Gonyea of Springfield, Oregon, purchased the company. Unprofitable items and overhead were slashed to improve the company's profitability.

In July 1960, Farley and Loetscher announced the sale of its plastics manufacturing facilities to Durel, Inc., a subsidiary of CARADCO. Two years later, the company announced that it would close on or about February 28, 1962. (16) Cited as causes were rapidly increasing wage rates and low prices for millwork.

Letterhead: Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Worker ID: Photo courtesy: Cathy's Treasures

At the time of its closing, Farley and Loetscher was the third largest employer in Dubuque. (Photo Courtesy: http://www.dubuquepostcards.com)

Sales book showing windows and doors for purchase. Photo courtesy: Larry Hoelscher
Photo courtesy: Larry Hoelscher
Paper weight. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Ink blotters. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Ink blotters.Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Ink blotters.Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Ink blotters.Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Ink blotters.Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Blotter
Blotter
Blotter
Floetscherletter.jpg
Hundredth anniversary token (obverse)
Token (reverse)
The company's safety record was posted for the community.
Ink Blotter. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
75thf&L.jpg
Business envelope
Company newsletter
Advertising object
Round pocket mirror.
Image courtesy: Jim Massey
Joseph Kasel received a fishing rod at his retirement party. Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Joseph Kasel's retirement letter from the company. Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
The WORLD WAR II draft took many skilled craftsmen from the plant. Joseph Kasel was part of a U.S. government program to quickly re-train new help for the war effort. He also had a needed skill during WORLD WAR I, making wooden ammunition boxes for that war. He was not drafted at that time because of it.
John Kaasel went to extra training in 1911 to draw the artwork of the “shaded drawings”... took about 20 hours each of effort at school. Lots of skill in woodworking, all by hand with all those tools/planes shown in his toolbox.Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Company newsletter
Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Newsletters20001.JPG
Image courtesy: Karl J. Kasel
Business card. Photo courtesy: Joseph Jacobsmeier
FL.png

---


Source:

1. "Here's Romance of Modern Industry," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, April 30, 1930, p. 8. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=DbBFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Pb0MAAAAIBAJ&pg=2351,5092211&dq=farley+and+loetscher+manufacturing+company+dubuque&hl=en

2. Reber, Craig D. "A Brief History of Farley and Loetscher," Telegraph Herald, March 22, 2009, p. 3. Online: http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=DQ&p_theme=dq&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=127213B765873938&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM

3. Portrait and Biographical Record of Dubuque, Jones and Clayton Counties. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Company, 1894, p. 127. Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=3n4_AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA127&lpg=PA127&dq=Farley+and+Loetscher&source=bl&ots=DzImGD6Nnt&sig=6TrIk64PAJfQiJCqBNDxwgP0KYQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=XkGFUojNJ8fd2AW0gIGwDQ&ved=0CFAQ6AEwBzgU#v=onepage&q=Farley%20and%20Loetscher&f=false

4. "To Expend Much More Money Here," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, January 5, 1905, p. 3

5. "Dubuque Covers Dubuque With Its Sash and Door Products," Telegraph Herald, January 2, 1910, p. 1

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. "Dubuque Man is Named Head of Des Moines Firm," Telegraph Herald, August 7, 1927, p. 40. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=mo1FAAAAIBAJ&sjid=0rwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6891,6061408&dq=peaslee+and+company+dubuque&hl=en

9. "Here's Romance of Modern Industry."

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. "Honor Flag Raised at Local Lactory," Telegraph Herald, July 17, 1942, p. 16. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=nj9FAAAAIBAJ&sjid=kbsMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5323,1674278&dq=farley+and+loetscher+manufacturing+company+dubuque&hl=en

13. "Farley's Ready for Peace Work," Telegraph Herald, October 15, 1944, p. 1. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=T9JkAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wnUNAAAAIBAJ&pg=4629,3680152&dq=farley+and+loetscher+manufacturing+company+dubuque&hl=en

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. "Farley and Loetscher Millworking Operations to End; 600 to Lose Jobs," Wall Street Journal, January 15, 1962. Online: http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/djreprints/doc/132802971.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Jan%2015,%201962&author=&pub=Wall%20Street%20Journal&edition=&startpage=&desc=Farley%20&%20Loetscher%20Millworking%20Operations%20To%20End;%20600%20to%20Lose%20Jobs