MOUNT GILEAD — The last remnants of a once-proud local manufacturer and major employer began crumbling to the snowy ground courtesy of a bulldozer.
Demolition of the historic HPM plant began Dec. 22, 2020. The HPM plastics and die-casting equipment operation closed in 2010, bringing an end to a century-plus of machinery manufacturing in the village.
Evelyn Long of Cardington has fond memories from working there from 1951 through 1953.
“I worked there when it was a beehive of activity. I was hired on the spot and ran a comptometer. I figured employees hours for their wages. After a few months, the vice president promoted me to accounts receivable where I paid the company bills using this monstrosity of a machine,” she recalled.
“I made many friends there.”
Other residents expressed their thoughts via The Sentinel’s social media platforms shortly after photos and a video were posted.
“So sad; a great place to work,” said Ellen Shaw.
Sharon Levings Thompson recalled that “my mom and dad worked there many, many moons ago.”
A number of locals called the aging structure “an eyesore” despite its historic significance.
The Hydraulic Press Manufacturing Company was founded here in 1877 to make apple presses.
The machinery maker shut down at the end of 2009 — ending 132 years of operation — and the 400,000-square-foot facility sat vacant awaiting a possible rebirth that never happened.
Its history is long and rich.
Village fire department records show the business was completely destroyed in a fire on Aug. 13, 1887. This would become one of many fires that plagued the company.
By the 1920s, HPM started to manufacture hydraulic presses that were used in a number of markets, including textiles, railroads and food processing.
In 1940, HPM completed a second manufacturing facility that more than doubled its existing capacity.
During World War II and the Korean War, HPM primarily manufactured metalworking presses for the manufacture of artillery shells for the U.S. government. In addition, presses with up to 10,000 tons capacity were manufactured for the aerospace industry.
Records indicate that it had roughly 1,000 employees at its peak around 1980. As late as 1998 it still employed about 850, with more than half being county residents. Others commuted from surrounding counties and as far away as Ashland, Upper Sandusky and Columbus.
For many families it provided a good, steady income for decades.
“My dad worked there for many years,” said Kelly Glancy of Mount Vernon.
In 1976, the Koehring Company of Milwaukee sold the HPM Division to a group of employees and local investors, and the company was re-named HPM Corporation.
The company entered the business of remanufacturing older injection molding, die casting and extrusion machinery by establishing a separate division in Marion in 1987.
On March 29, 2011, Guangdong YIZUMI Precision Machinery Co., Ltd, located in China, acquired all HPM intellectual properties. Six years later, HPM NA was renamed as the YIZUMI-HPM Corporation. It operates a modern facility on State Route 309 in Iberia.
Jeanne Smith, echoing the sentiment of many Morrow Countians said, “Great memories.”
Village officials said in late December that no immediate plans have surfaced for the site, but they are hopeful the land can be developed.
Information taken from reports in the Morrow County Sentinel, Marion Star, Plastics Today and other historical accounts.