INDIA TIRE AND RUBBER COMPANY
When the India Tire and Rubber Company shut down in Mogadore in 1934, another company moved into that location on South Cleveland Avenue. But not before India closed in 1933, as a result of the world-wide Depression.
Writer Miriam Wise Andrews of Mogadore remembered her youth in the Village. She wrote, “When we were small children, living at 123 South Cleveland Avenue (then, across from the high school), the blimp was our constant companion. We woke up to its gentle chug overhead and its plump shadow drifting across our garden. We knew its pilots and on occasion would help them settle their big, slow sky-fish onto the field in front of what was then the India Tire and Rubber Company….tugging at the ropes and helping them secure the benign giant.”
In 1916 India Tire and Rubber Company was founded by J. M. Alderfer, P. C. Searles, D. A. Grubb, and J. K. Williams. In 1918, the company was capitalized at $250,000. In 1924 the sales exceeded $3,000,000. In 1925 India produced over 1200 tires daily. In 1931 it was the largest industry in Summit County and the largest employer in Mogadore.
The story of India, as it was called, can be followed in news articles in The Mogadore News. The headline on October 13, 1932: “Refunding Pay Cut Biggest India Story This Year” announced the company’s refund of a 20% pay cut for salaried employees. When the company’s president was asked how the company could cancel pay cuts despite the Depression and in a critical and hard-pressed industry, W. G. Klauss replied, “We do not wholly recognize the depression.”
On March 29, 1933, The Mogadore News reported that “conditions at the India were fast returning to normalcy today as re-organization progressed and a step-up in production of 50% kept the plant busy. W. G. Klauss, who resigned as president following receivership proceedings last week, and then was appointed receiver’s agent,...announced the increased production.”
May 3,1933: “Mogadore Group Confers on Purchase of India” headlined the article which explained that a group of Mogadore businesses headed by Samuel S. Carper, bank president, was working on a plan to purchase India from the present receiver and operate it locally in order to preserve one of Mogadore’s largest industries. The purchase price for the factory was set at $100,000, and Mr. Carper thought the funds could be arranged.
May 10, 1933: Judge L.S. Pardee ordered the sale of the India property at $400,000 and gave the stockholders and creditors until May 19 to show cause why the plant should not be sold. The appraisal of the plant’s assets was set at $1,165,493.
June 7, 1933: “To Appraise Bids on India Thursday” - Two bids were considered by Harry L. Snyder, referee in bankruptcy, one from General Tire at $600,000 and one from the Mogadore businessmen at $500,000, but with the promise of assuming responsibility for receiver’s obligations up to $132,000 which made the Mogadore bid higher. “It is a question, however, of just how long the General would operate the plant here while there would be no doubt were the property to be acquired locally.”
December 8, 1934: Akron Beacon Journal - “Discouraged Mogadore Awaits Decision On India”
The current battle over the India Tire Company, principal employer at the time, caused residents to question the future of Mogadore. “The politics and the legal aspects of the fight over the company” were not understood by the businessmen interviewed. A government loan of $300,000 to the Village was seen as the “only hope for return of prosperity.”
“ ‘Save the India any way possible,’ is their feeling on the subject, and the feeling is intense.”
The receivership suit, an attack on the management of India President W. G. Klauss, would be heard on December 10, 1934 in Ravenna’s court, charging Klauss and other company officers who had discussed the loan.
Businessmen interviewed and pictured below were Pete Drawkulich, a hotel keeper and butcher, (shelves from his store donated to the Historical Society are used in displays); Levi Darrah, owner of the restaurant at the Village Square; and George Moroz, owner of the dry goods store at the northwest corner of the Square.
General Tire and Rubber Company eventually won the fight.
With the acquisition of the India Tire and Rubber Company, General Tire was now a leader in the tire industry, with 2.7 percent of U.S. tire sales in 1933. Although its sales were minuscule compared with Goodyear’s 30 percent of the market, General Tire was considered an important player because of its concentration in the market for higher-priced tires.
In 1934 General Tire and Rubber Company used the old India building for a warehouse until about 1950 when it opened a polymer plant and started manufacturing latex.
Latex is a white, sticky substance that has been manufactured at that location for almost 70 years, used in paper products, backing for rugs, diapers, and filler for tires. In 1991 there were 250 employees, 10% of whom lived in Mogadore, according to the Record Courier article in July, 1991.
Margaret Lattimer Lansinger and her brother Harry Lattimer were neighbors of the company for decades. They remembered that India started operations in 1917 and closed in 1934. During World War II the building was a bustling operation, serving as a warehouse for General Tire.
In the late 1980s General Tire became GenCorp. The tire plant division in Mogadore shut down and some of its workers moved to Waco, Texas, to work at the GenCorp tire plant there.
Former GenCorp polymer plant general manager Harlan Jewett donated to the Mogadore Historical Society an old India Rubber tire label. It looks like a pair of gold wings, pictured at the end of this article.
GenCorp over the years had donated funds to the fire department, the schools, tires to the police department, and land to the Mogadore Historical Society so by 1989 the Society could accept the donations of the Historical House and Depot to their current location.
GenCorp in 1999 spun off its polymers and decorative and building products unit as publicly traded Omnova Solutions.
Omnova is now part of Synthomer, a global specialty chemicals company and one of the world's major suppliers of aqueous polymers. The combined organization creates a US $2.8 billion global enterprise with a broad array of specialty products and services. Synthomer said in a statement that it becomes a global player in water-based polymer solutions, and also increases its presence in Europe and Asia.
Synthomer, headquartered in London, has about 2,900 employees globally and reported $2.1 billion in revenue for its 2018 fiscal year.
But ironically, the India Tire and Rubber Company has returned to a company that has its origin in the country of India!
Synthomer traces its roots back to 1863, when Andrew Yule founded a trading house in Calcutta, India. In 1920 Thomas Catto and David Yule changed the name of the British purchasing arm to Yule, Catto & Company Ltd. Due to increased taxation, the devaluation of the Indian rupee and the abolition of the managing agency system, Yule, Catto & Co decided in 1969 to sell its shareholding in Andrew Yule & Co. to the Indian government.
With the acquisition of Revertex Chemicals in 1980,Thomas Catto's son, Stephen (1923–2001) started to turn Yule Catto & Co. into an international specialty chemicals and building products manufacturer. Since 2007 the group has been transformed from a diversified chemical business to a focused specialty polymer business.
In 2012 the company changed its name to Synthomer on the basis that the majority of its business already traded under that name.
Welcome to Mogadore, Synthomer!