II. The Depression -- "...during the Depression we got paid by Brinks Express, and was only paid $10.00. If we had more coming it was owed us..." -Frank Glyda, press operator, as quoted in The Acklin Press, 1975.


A. Toledo During the Depression

Inthe spring of 1929, Willys-Overland laid off the first of several thousand workers, bringing the abstract idea of the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange's house of cards into sharp reality in the Toledo area. Willys-Overland was a major economic force in the Toledo area, the company's $27 million payroll in 1925 represented about 41% of the cities total annual payroll. The 1929 layoffs forced thousands of people into poverty, pushing the numbers of individuals receiving direct federal assistance to record highs. Although the jobless rate in Ohio reached 37%, in Toledo that number was nearly 80%.

The economic panic hurt many small companies and shops, forcing some to close and most to cut back workers. Acklin however, though forced to lay off a fairly large number of workers managed to keep its doors open and within a few years regain profitability.

The company's president, James Acklin, met the demands of economic crisis in unique way. In October of 1930, he participated in a round table discussion for Iron Age magazine, as his company, like the rest of the industry, was coming to terms with their shared difficulties. During the course of this discussion James mentioned that from his perspective, the depression had forced the company to become more efficient. He and his employees developed several radically new ideas in an effort to keep overhead at a minimum. One of these ideas included the shifting of presses around the plant's floor in order to allow the same operator to run several presses at once. Previously presses had remained stationary and workers were used to take parts from one station to the next as it went through its production cycle. But what James and his engineers and employees developed moved these presses together, eliminating the need for workers to transfer parts by hand.

This re-combination of presses would occur for every new job the company received and could happen as often as 3 or 4 times a month. This innovation would be replicated during the next 30 years through increasingly mechanized presses, but at the time the innovation was a new one for the metal stamping industry. James went on to publish an article on the subject entitled "Migration of Presses Into Grouped Units" in the November, 1930 issue of Iron Age.

Needy Toledoans Lining Up for Free Sandwichs

Needy Toledoans line up for sandwiches. Early 1930s.

 

 

 

James Acklin, born 1884

James Acklin, born 1884. Photo from 1931.


Back to Toledo in 1911, a Backdrop      On to Depression at Acklin

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