In the summer of 2002 a long-time employee of the Ames Company contacted Stonehill College to see if it was interested in acquiring historic materials from the company. In August 2002 Dr. Greg Galer, former Curator of Stonehill's Industrial Collections, traveled to the Ames plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia to review archival Ames materials for potential donation to Stonehill College. The items were located at the former (1932 - 1999) headquarters of Ames Lawn and Garden Tools which had recently become a facility of the newly formed Ames True Temper Company.
Dr. Galer reviewed materials in several company vaults, offices, and storage areas, and earmarked many items for donation to the College. In September 2002 Plant Manager, David Randolph signed a deed of gift. Over many months Ms. Barbara Radiker, a 24 year employee in the Ames personnel office, boxed and shipped these items to Stonehill College, a few boxes at a time. The shipment of items was completed in February 2004.
In September 2005 the Ames True Temper Company closed this West Virginia facility after being unable to reach a contract agreement with the United Steel Workers representing its employees. Dr. Galer returned to Parkersburg in November 2005 and February 2006 to acquire additional materials before the plant was emptied and sold.
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History of the Parkersburg Facility
The Parkersburg plant began as the Baldwin Tool Works in 1910. In 1931, amidst much consolidation of the shovel industry, the Ames Company purchased the facility in Parkesburg. This was one of several plants involved in a large merger which included the Ames Shovel and Tool Co. of North Easton, MA; the Wyoming Shovel Works of Wyoming, PA; Hubbard & Co. of Pittsburgh, PA; the Pittsburgh Shovel Co. of Pittsburgh, PA; and Parkersburg’s Baldwin Tool Works. Other shovel firms were added to the fold later that year. Richard Harte was the President of the new, merged Ames Shovel and Tool Company.
In 1932 the company’s headquarters moved from North Easton , Massachusetts to Parkersburg , West Virginia . Also during that year all shovel plants beyond North Easton and Parkersburg and dowel plants for handles in Parkersburg ; Wauseon , Ohio ; and Paris , Texas were phased out. In 1933 the firm’s name was changed to the Ames, Baldwin, Wyoming Company and in 1952 to the O. Ames Company. Between 1952 and 1953 the North Easton , Massachusetts plant was phased out and shut down, thus making he Parkersburg facility the center of operations.
Bernhard McDonough, a Parkersburg businessman who over a period time came to own a variety of businesses in the region, purchased the Ames Company in 1955. (See Eugene C. Murdock, Bernard McDonough: The Man and His Work, 1988, available in the SIHC Research Room.) In 1981 McDonough sold Ames to Hanson Company, a British firm. The American divisions of Hanson were spun off as US Industries (USI) in 1995.
1999 brought dramatic changes when Ames and its parent company, USI, purchased their major competitor, the True Temper Company of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania from its parent corporation, the Huffy Corp. True Temper’s origins are as the Old Stone Forge in Wallingford , Vermont (1808) which became The American Fork and Hoe Co. That company moved to Cleveland , Ohio, in the early 1900s, and the name was changed to True Temper in 1949. The company relocated to Camp Hill , PA in 1981.
The combined company was renamed Ames True Temper and is managed from the former True Temper headquarters in Pennsylvania. After about 46 years the Parkersburg facility lost its role as the central place of control and management of the Ames business. The facility remained a production plant for Ames, but central management no longer occurred there. This change caused concern about the survival of historic records and thus prompted personnel there to contact the Stonehill Industrial History Center about preserving material. This concern proved to be well founded when the plant shut down in 2005.
Meanwhile in January 2002 Ames True Temper was purchased by WindPoint Partners of Chicago. In June 2004 Castle Harlan, Inc. of Chicago purchased the company.
Requests for information can be submitted via email to the Director of Archives and Historical Collections, Nicole Casper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508.565.1121.