IV. The Greenhill Era -- "As an employee of the Acklin Stamping Company...you are much the same as a member of a large family, working together for the success and happiness of the family group." --New Employee Procedure Manual 1947.


B. The Acklin "Family"

Greenhill's experiences throughout the various parts of the plant gave him a first hand understanding of the rigors involved in each of these jobs, and a unique perspective on the concerns and demands of his employees. He understood the importance of unity and how each of the units functioned together as a whole. Greenhill articulated all of this in a handbook published for new employees in 1949. The handbook reflects C.F.'s vision of Acklin Stamping as an extended family where "when we do our part and our best to cooperate with the other members of the family, we find that our own job as well as the job of our fellow worker is made easier."

Greenhill's experiences throughout the various parts of the plant gave him a first hand understanding of the rigors involved in each of these jobs, and a unique perspective on the concerns and demands of his employees. He understood the importance of unity and how each of the units functioned together as a whole. Greenhill articulated all of this in a handbook published for new employees in 1949. The handbook reflects C.F.'s vision of Acklin Stamping as an extended family where "when we do our part and our best to cooperate with the other members of the family, we find that our own job as well as the job of our fellow worker is made easier."

Under Greenhill's leadership Acklin became again a close knit family organization, as it had been during the days under Grafton Acklin and his sons. It was not uncommon for several generations of the same family or even husbands and wives to work side by side at Acklin. Ray Mierzwiak started at Acklin in 1929 working in a wide variety of positions but ended up in Inspection, where he worked alongside his wife Bernice for 22 years. Harold Krueger's father, Clarence Krueger worked at Acklin before him, serving as a welding supervisor.

Acklin put quite a bit of bread on the table for the Houston family, all four brothers - Marshall, Edward, Luther, and Samuel worked at Acklin during the 1950s. The Houston family, being African-American, was somewhat unique at Acklin. Toledo's African-American population grew during the 1940s as many moved to the North to find work in plentiful factory jobs. African-Americans made up a fairly small percentage of Acklin's workforce but they made invaluable contributions. Unfortunately very few African-American's were promoted to management positions within the plant. Acklin did make however a conscious effort to combat racism at the plant, running ads in the plant's newspaper encouraging friendship and unity among all races.

Greenhill made an effort at Acklin, more so than ever before in the company's history, to hire and promote from within the Acklin "family". It is stressed time and again during this period, in both the Employment Manual and in the Acklin Press that with the right attitude and the right amount of hard work, any employee in the Acklin family could rise through the ranks much as Mr. Greenhill did. And nearly every manager or executive level employee at Acklin under Greenhill had been at Acklin for over a decade, often gaining valuable experience on the production level.

Throughout Acklin's history, employees had been getting together for various social activities, from bowling leagues and golf tournaments to picnics. The Acklin Activities Club was officially organized by a group of employees in 1947. The group drew up a constitution, charged $1.00 annual dues and a $1.00 membership fee in order to build a treasury, and elected officers. The company pledged $5.00 for each new member, up to $1,000. The group quickly gained well over 200 members and received the full amount from the company. The Acklin Activities Club organized a wide variety of events open to all members ranging from dart ball and ping pong to baseball and bowling leagues.

The Acklin baseball team competed in the C.I.O. League against such teams as Gordon Bumper, Plaskon, Mather Spring, and Willys Overland. The bowling leagues were a huge success, regularly drawing between 100 and 150 players. The league was organized within the plant and divided into four categories - men and women for both the night and the day shifts. At the end of any sports season a celebratory dinner was often held.

The club also held parties, most notably a late summer company picnic, open to all members and their families, and a Christmas party held for Acklin children. The annual picnic, held at various parks often swelled to between 600 and 700 Acklinites and their families. The day's festivities included horseshoes and volleyball, lots of food, and general fun. All levels of Acklinites, from high level management to production line workers played side by side. In fact, the softball game between the management and the union was a perennial draw.

Also starting in 1947 was a group known as the 25 Year Club, so named because of its only membership criteria -- 25 years of employment at Acklin Stamping. The nine initial inductees included one woman, Pearl Rutkowski who worked on the small line for most of those 25 years. Other inductees hiring dates went back into the late teens and the very earliest days of the company's history.

The new inductees were honored in a banquet, a tradition that would continue annually for several decades. At the first induction the men were given fine cigars, the women orchids and all were given lapel pins and a round of applause. The club, open to both retired and current employees, grew quickly, drawing up a constitution, and electing officers. By the end of the 1950's there were 117 members, 103 of which remained active Acklin employees.

1947 also marked the arrival of The Acklin Press, a company newspaper that was published monthly. Edited by Robert Keller, personnel director, it kept Acklin employees appraised of events and news around the plant. The Acklin Press covered all Acklin sporting events from the bowling league to the fishing club, as well as documenting social events. It also described the business outlook of the company and described the various parts being made. Designed for the entire family, the Acklin Press included in the center a "Family Fun Page" which included cartoons and games for the children, as well as trivia, crosswords and movie gossip for adults. The paper would continue monthly publication for the next several decades before finally succumbing to shrinking finances and gradually disappearing.

Under Greenhill the company and the Union worked together to forge several projects beneficial to employees including a company credit union, a more comprehensive pension and retirement plan, insurance plans, and paycheck deductions for savings bonds. Acklin pioneered many of these programs for the Toledo area and each of these programs provided Acklin Employees with a variety of options and protections they didn't have before. These programs negotiated through the union contract, and many of them expanded their benefits and coverage throughout the years.

Asa result of these programs and opportunities Acklin became and remained a very close knit organization, spending time with one another both on and off the clock. Acklin was a family organization, one that encouraged loyalty, dedication and hard work. Greenhill was a respected president and under his leadership the company's employees thrived.

Ray Mierzwiak, 40 year Acklin employee.

 

 

 

Acklin Employees recieving Christmas Turkeys, 1955.

 

 

 

Paul Wexlar, Stanly Schoviak, Joe Kardos, Julius Chinni, and Shortie Long representing Acklin at the American Bowling Congress, 1955.

 

 

 

Meeting of the 25 year club, late 1940s.

 

 

 

Stanley Disque, Acklin Sales Representative and his catch a 100 pound Silver King Tarpon. Tampa Bay, Florida 1947.

 

 

 

Acklin UAW Shop Committee, 1947.

 

 

 

Union Shop Committee, 1954. Lewis Mattox, chair is second from the right, back row.

 

 

 

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Anti-racism ad run in the Acklin Press, August 1948.


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