A History of F.E. Myers and Bro.

The F.E. Myers and Bro. empire was built on foundation of quality, innovation, and community.


| November 2006



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In 1815, Uniontown, Ohio, was little more than a frontier outpost. Less than 100 years later, the town had been renamed Ashland, and boasted 47 factories and a population of 8,000. As an early manufacturing center, Ashland was home to Reliable Match Co. ("Strike Anywhere Matches"), Kauffman Mfg. Co. (manufacturer of folding chairs used in Union Army encampments), Dr. Hess & Clark (veterinary supplies and disinfectants) and T.W. Miller's Faultless Rubber Co. (rubber sundries, surgical goods and bicycle tires). But Ashland's biggest manufacturer in 1915 was F.E. Myers & Bro., a manufacturer of water pumps and hay tools who employed a workforce of nearly 800.

Brothers Francis E. Myers and Philip A. Myers grew up on a farm just outside of Ashland within earshot of their neighbors, the Studebakers … yes, those Studebakers. That clan initially manufactured wagons, but left the area in the mid-1800s for South Bend, Ind., where they became automakers.

F.E. Myers got his start as a salesman of farm equipment and cider presses for the Ashland Machine Co. When that company went bankrupt, Myers represented Bucher & Gibbs Co. and the Imperial Plow Co., both of Canton, Ohio. At about the same time, in 1870, F.E. Myers went into business for himself and persuaded his brother Philip to join him. The pair first operated a repair shop and sold farm equipment.

Every farm family needed water, and F.E. Myers saw an opportunity to build pumps to meet that need. Philip was captivated by the mechanics of the water pump. He secured a patent for a double-action pump that delivered water in a steady stream rather than spurts. Two years later he designed a pump with a unique glass valve seat that would neither corrode nor leak. Howard E. Covington Jr. in Living the American Dream: The Myers and Miller Families of Ashland, Ohio notes that, unable to copy P.A. Myers' patented glass valve, which increased the life and force of the pump, competitors were forced to buy valves from Myers.

The brothers were a complementary pair and worked well together. Francis E. Myers was a superior salesman, promoter and businessman. Philip, widely considered a mechanical genius, liked to design and invent. Eventually, two other Myers brothers (Alvah N. and G. Denton) joined the firm.

In 1882, the Myers brothers exhibited their pumps at the Ohio State Fair, winning the highest award for the best pumps. Two years later, Philip won a patent for a hay carrier, which evolved into a lucrative line of Myers hay tools. In 1910 he invented a sprayer used to kill mosquitoes in the Panama Canal Zone, protecting thousands of workers from insect-borne malaria. A year later, company officials boasted an international network of 30,000 dealers engaged in the sale of Myers pumps. Meanwhile, Myers had grown into one of the largest manufacturers of barn track and hay carriers.