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The Furniture Factory

The Furniture Factory image
Parent Issue
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When the visitor at Ann Arbor is shown about the city, as he looks over across the T., A. A. & N. M. E. R. tracks he invariably inquires : "What is that large four-story brick building vonder?', That, he is told, is the plant of the Michigan Furniture Co. On the spot where thisextensive factory now stands there formerly stood a three-story frame building, which wat built by Messrs. Paul & Bissing, who established the industry in 18ti6, and engaged in the manufacture of all kinds of furniture. About two vear's later Paui's interest in the business was purchased by John Keek, and the firm was thereafter known as John Keek & Co. A small addition to the old plant was then made. Although several changes were made in the firm, they continued to opérate under this name until 1879, when a stock company Was formed, which assumed control of the business Aug. "0, 1879. The authorized capital s-tock of the company was $50,000, of which $40 000 has been paid in. The ürst directora elected were John Keek, VV. D. Harriman, L. Gruner, J. T. Jacobs, J. J. Ellis, C. E. Hiscoek and Moses Seabolt. They organized by eleeting the folio W Ing officers : President, W. D. Harriman ; vice president, L. Gruner; senretary and treasurer, C. E. Hisoock. Thesie officers Iihvo been continued since the organizalionofthe company. A few changes liave been made in the directora, however, and llio-o now actiog in that capaeity are, W. I) llirriman, L. Gruner, Moses Seabolt, C. E. Hiscock, E. E. Beal, A. V. Hamilton and Paul Saauble. Wlien the stock company was formed many impioveinents iu tin; plant, and changes in llie policy of the concern were made. The old t'rarne building was torn down, and in lts place was erected a fine foor-story brick building, which, with the addltion now nearly completed, makes a spacious main building, 45x200 feet. The business was changed ïrom the manufacture of all kinds of furniture to the making of bed-room suite.-', exclusively, and becarue known as tlie "Keek Furniture Co.;" under whicli name the company contirmed to opérate until January, 1884, when the name was changed to the "Michigan Furniture Co." During the flrst years after the organization of the stock company, John Keek was the managing director, or superintendent. He was followed by J. J. Ellis, who was in turn succeeded by Paul Snauble, the present superintendent, in January, 1885. Mr. Snauble is a practical business caan, has been connected with the company lor upwards of thirteen years, and during the time he has held bis present position, has proven himself to be an eflieient manager. The affairs of the company are now in a yery prosperous condition, and many improvements in theirplant have been made to increase their facilities for doina business. A representative of The Register visited the factory a few days ago and was both pleased and surprised at the scène of thrift and activity presented. In the yard about the factory was piled about 1,000,000 feet of' fine hard-wood lumber, which amount the company keep constantly on hand; and which, by the way, is about the amount useú annually in their factory. From the yard the lumber is transferred to two large dry kilns, with a capacity of 48,000 feet, and conveniently arranged on i wheels; where, in a temperature of 200 degiees, the greenest plank can be thoroughlv dried in 8even days. Without re-handling, the dried lum1 ber is conveyed on trucks to the Iower ' floor of the niain building, where it is i sawed into strips, sticks and timber, the length and size most convenient for further working. This is done on the second floor, where these rougli pieces from the saws below are planed, grooved, carved and made ready for ', putting together. In the rooms in this floor is the scène of the greatest activity. All kinds of machinery known to modern invention are here employed to prepare the strips of timber for the various places they are to fill, and to fit each plece for its own peculiar function. The work of several men, and much better than all could do it, can be aceomplished by a new "invincible" sand paper machine, which puts a beautiful glasslike surface on the wood. And here the handsome carvings, and the various ornamental designs which so please the popular taste, are made. Another busy scène is presented to the visitor on thethird floor. Here the different strips and pieces of wood from the machines below are put together by many skilled workmen; and what started from the lower floor as mere rough and uuattractive pieces of board are, by experienced hands, transformed into the various pieces of bed-room furn i ture. But the greatest transformaron takes place in the fourth, or upper story. Here by a series of rubbing, filling, painting and varnishing, the handsome finish is put on, and the beautiful grains of the wood brought out. Two large two-story store rooms are constantly filled with the producís of the factor?, ready for packmg and sliipping. Here is one of the interesting sights of the factory. The great variety of handsome suites, ranging in price from 20 to $60, elegantly finished in all modern finishes of elm, ash, maple, oak and walnut, and their unique Sixteenth century finish, forms a pleasing sight indeed. It then passes into but one more room, and that is the pucking room, (!0x45 feet, where several men are employed in oreparing the goods for shipment. The constant stream of goods going forth from this room is ampie proof of the demand for their goods and the prosperity of the concern. There is but one other room to visit - the engine and boiler room. This is not the least interesting sight by anv means. A magnificent 100-horse power Corliss engine. which, by the way, was built right here in Ann Arbor by Hun tur & Co., keeps op its steady, majeslic motion from morning till night, as if i were aware that upon it depended the action of countless wheels and various pieces of machinery above. The new entine and boiler room is nearly cnapleted, and a new ll'O horse power boiler being put in, which, with the boiler now in use, will make o boiler capacity of 206 horse power. Throughout tlie whole establishment one cannot help noticing the admirabl syf-tem of regularity. Kot ave totee is wasted. ETerythiug moves like clockwork from the beginning to the end and the (treatest precautione forutilizinj every force have been taken. Moreover all the mocfern appüances used in the business will be noiced in every department, from the dry-kiln to the Dackinc room. The compauy now gives employraent to 85 men, and their factory can uow turn out $100,000 worth of goods annually. Theirtrade is witb jobbers and wholeealers exdusively, no order work being done, fvdes are made froui the office and by personal solicitation. Mr. Snanble, the superintendent, takes a good sbare of' the orders himseif'. In January and Ju!y of eaoh year he visita the principal eities in New York and adjuining cities and opena a market for the iroducts of the factory. The bulk of their trade is conflned to Michigan, New York, Penii.-yivania, ühio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa; but gaWa are frequently made in other States, and their goods have goneas far soutli as Florida, and west to Washington. Since the first establiehment oft bis industry, it has met with varying euccess, but at no time in its history bas its prospects been as bright as at the present, and by continuing in its present policy of manafactnring the best goods of the kind on the market, at the low prices the economical system of manufacture will enable the company to sell at, a more wonderful business development niay be expected.


Old News
Ann Arbor Register