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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.




MYERS-COX COMPANY

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Photo courtesy: Jim Massey

MYERS-COX COMPANY. H. W. Armington, Dorrance Dixon MYERS, and J. H. Tice founded ARMINGTON, MYERS & CO. in 1867 to produce fine cut, chewing and smoking tobacco. It was the first business of its kind in this part of the state and was located at 63 Main. (1)

In 1870 the company's name was changed to reflect the three principals: D. (2) D. Myers, J. H. Tice, and Walter G. COX.

Myers, Cox and Company tin framed celluloid sign by the Epstein & Kowarsky. Photo courtesy: Jim Massey

The company was reorganized in 1895 under the name of Myers, Cox and Company. This reflected the purchase of the Tice interest by W. G. Cox. (3) The business was relocated to a four story building at 409-410 Iowa. In addition to that building which was used for manufacturing, the company owned two warehouses. Each held a two-year supply of raw tobacco stored in barrels. By 1911 fifty people were employed in the factory and eleven salesmen covered sales territory in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. (4) Favorite brands included "Fragrant" smoking tobacco and "Home Comfort," "Sweet Puff," and "Sunset" fine cut tobacco.

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Between 1890 and 1910 there were ten cigar manufacturing companies in Dubuque. Myers-Cox, the only one to survive the creation of tobacco trusts which put many similar companies out of business, became the only large manufacturer of smoking tobacco independent of the trusts. (5) In 1913 the company incorporated in Iowa. (6)

In the 1920s, Myers-Cox replaced manufacturing with wholesaling and distributing tobacco and other products. (7) Territory franchises were established. The LaFendrich and Charles Denby cigar labels were added to the Myers-Cox product line and sold to a company in Indiana for national distribution.

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During and after WORLD WAR I pre-made and prepackaged cigarettes were introduced nationally. Along with adding prepackaged cigarettes to their product line, Myers-Cox expanded into candy, gum, and tobacco accessories. Most of the candy product was manufactured in Midwest cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Milwaukee. The product was shipped by rail to Dubuque.

With the introduction of automobiles, Myers-Cox Company started local delivery within the city of Dubuque in the 1920s. Sales representatives also started using small panel trucks to call on their customers. Each representative was located in their general territory and all merchandise was shipped to them once a week. The frequency of sales calls varied from once every three weeks to once every six weeks.

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W.B. Poinsett joined Myers-Cox in 1926 as sales manager. In 1931 Poinsett and Thomas M. STAMPFER purchased the company and moved its headquarters and warehouse to Dodge and Main Streets in 1935.

WORLD WAR II rationing made delivering product and making sales calls challenging. Women joined the warehouse operation at Myers-Cox for the first time.

After World War II, Myers-Cox greatly expanded its product line. Categories such as cigarettes, tobacco and confections all grew. Coca Cola and Canada Dry were some of the brands that were added. In the early 1950s billfolds, sunglasses, gloves, and small electric appliances were added to the Myers-Cox product line. Most of these items were sold through catalogs that were distributed twice a year.

In the 1960s the State of Iowa authorized the sale and use of cigarette vending machines. Myers-Cox saw an opportunity and opened MY-CAP VENDORS INC. which became a full line vending company that sold cigarettes and tobacco, candy, snacks, beverages and food.

In 1964 W.E. Maron purchased Myers-Cox. Maron, the owner of Capital Tobacco of Charles City, Iowa, had a warehouse in Dubuque. After the Myers-Cox warehouse was flooded in the flood of 1965, they moved into the Capital warehouse on 32nd Street. The operations were consolidated and the company became known as: Capital-Myers-Cox. The consolidation increased the product offerings even more with the addition of Kraft and Heinz institutional foods and an expanded fountain division.

Shortly after Joseph Carew purchased the controlling interest in the company in 1968, Myers-Cox acquired a warehouse adjacent to the Kirchhoff Company. The acquisition of this warehouse added another 6,000 square feet of space and provided for continued product line expansion. Greg Carew, Joseph's son, joined the company in 1976 and introduced technological upgrades that included the addition of computers in the office. This addition enabled more detailed information to be available to Myers-Cox customers and allowed for more accurate inventory and more streamlined ordering processes.

In 1983 Myers-Cox acquired the 35,000 square foot warehouse of Stanley Home Products which was only a few blocks from the 32nd Street headquarters. This acquisition allowed Myers-Cox to include both retail and commercial frozen products to their product line and add a line of retail groceries to service convenience stores.

As the product lines increased, the facilities expanded and transportation improved. The company began to expand its distribution territory. The Waukon territory was acquired in 1986, a Waterloo distributor was acquired in 1988, and a Clinton distributor was acquired in 1989.

In 2013 Myers-Cox was located in Peosta, Iowa from where it distributed to a variety of businesses within a 150 mile radius of Dubuque including customers in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. These businesses included convenience stores, bars and grills, restaurants, grocery stores, office buildings, doctors' offices, banks, schools, concession stands, and city parks.

The product line consisted of many of the same categories that it had for years and expanded to include a ware-washing and laundry program, cleaning chemicals, janitorial supplies, paper products, plastic products, coffee and coffee programs, food service products and others.

The company is a charter member of the National Association of Wholesalers founded in 1947.

The 1911-12 through 1939 Dubuque City Directory listed 409-419 Iowa.

The 1945 through 1964 Dubuque City Directory listed Main at the northwest corner of Dodge.

The 1987 through 1993 Dubuque City Directory listed 175 W. 32nd.


Letterhead. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
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Metal label
Business envelope
Cigar boxes. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
4.5"x3"x1" tin of tobacco
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Advertisement to retailers.
Antique advertising dice set.

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Source:

1. Oldt, Franklin T. The History of Dubuque County, Iowa, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880, p. 660. Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=u9xDAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA660&lpg=PA660&dq=ARMINGTON,+MYERS+AND+COMPANY+%28DUBUQUE%29&source=bl&ots=0CpzHKDR7v&sig=DXoNCvzhy1Nn7eFikroEEIZHSJI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=VvOjUoGjEITLrgHomoGACg&ved=0CEQQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=ARMINGTON%2C%20MYERS%20AND%20COMPANY%20%28DUBUQUE%29&f=false

2. Ibid.

3. Myers-Cox Company website: http://myerscox.com/about/

4. Kruse, Len. "Making Cigars---1867-1925," My Old Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa: Center for Dubuque History, 2000, p. 246

5. Ibid.

6. "Myers-Cox Company Records..."

7. M-C Myers-Cox Company, "History," Online: http://www.myerscox.com/