MAY 5, 1952
SAFETY DIRECTOR L. B. McABEE, right, is shown receiving
from Forest Shuford, Commissioner of Labor in North Carolina,
our plant’s fifth consecutive safety plaque for lowering accident
frequency. To eai-n the award industrial plants must show a specified
decrease in accident frequency as compared with their record for
the preceeding year. In our case the decrease was 45 percent to the
record low of .76 lost time injuries per million man hours worked.
Sharing honors with Mr. McAbee is George Brooks, representing the
Belmont Throwing Company which also qualified for the award.
The presentation above climaxed the annual Gastonia Chamber of
Commerce Safety Banquet Api’il 17, at the Masonic Temple. Sixty-
six Gaston County industrial plants were recognized for their work
in accident prevention at this event.
THE NEW office addition is rapidly taking shape. Measuring
32 by 70 feet, it will boost main office space to 5,595 square feet,
adding 50 per cent to the present 3,755 square footage. It is
scheduled for completion by June 1.
Main Office Gets
A brick and masonry one-story
addition is going up at the east
end of the main office which will
increase floor space in the office
by 75 per cent. The new wing,
measuring 32 by 70 feet, will be
modern in all respects with year-
round conditioned air, fluorescent
lighting, and fire protective sprink
The addition will provide need
ed expansion space for the Pay
Roll Department, as well as
new quarters entirely for the
Plant Manager, and the Insurance,
Yarn Sales, Purchase, and Job
Vol. 1, No. 1 — May 5, 1952
Published at Gastonia, North Carolina
By Firestone Textiles
A Division of
The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company
Department of Industrial Relations
R. H. HOOD, Editor
Carding—Leila Rape, Lurlene King, Jessie Westmoreland.
Spinning—Lois Bolding, Helen Bolick, Janet Hartgrove, Evie
Thomas, Grace Christopher, Bertha Ellis, Mary
Turner, Ray Cloninger, Mae Hyleman, Fannie Bruce.
Spooling—Nell Bolick, Rosalie Burger, Ruth Easier.
Twisting—Carolyn Anderson, Nevie Dalton, Mable Hanna,
Hazel Clark, Lassie Crawford, Corrie Johnson, Dean
Haun, Ellease Austin, Ruth Waldrop.
Weaving—Mary Johnson, Lucille Davis, Clara Wilson, Irene
Burroughs, Betty Martin.
Cloth Room—Margie Waldrop.
Cable Respooling—Theodore Thomas.
Quality Control—Dealva Jacobs, Irene Burroughs, Catherine
W^inding—Dorcas Atkinson, Ann Stephenson, Mayzelle Lewis.
Main Office—Mozelle Brockman.
Superintendent’s Office—Sue Van Dyke.
Personnel Office—Christine Clark.
More About Plant
Progress In Gastonia
(Continued from page 1)
in chronological order, as follows:
The Gastonia plant was acquired
by The Firestone Tire & Rubber
Company on April 2, 1935 from the
Manville-Jenckes Company. Mr.
W. A. Karl, now President of Fire
stone Textiles, was at that time
in charge of textile purchases at
Akron. Mr. Harold Mercer, present
plant manager, assumed the po
sition of comptroller and assistant
treasurer on the day the plant was
acquired. The first name of the
company was “Firestone Cotton
After completing the rearrange
ment of machinery to improve pro
duct flow, production was obtained
in June, 1935. During the period
ending October 31, 1935, production
totaled 3,159,368 pounds. This is
about three week’s production to
day. Clock employees enrolled as
of October 31, 1935, numbered
1361. Average pay at this time was
$13 weekly. . . . not an unusual
figure to earn in one day in 1952!
In July, 1936, weekly production
exceeded 500,000 pounds for the
first time. This level of production
was reached with 1850 employees.
It is significant that with today’s
more modern methods and ma
chinery, 2300 employees pi-oduce at
the rate of 1,350,000 pounds per
THE YEAR 1937 was devoted
to production refinements and on
October 31, 1937, production aver
aged 520,000 pounds weekly with
1625 employees enrolled. Mr. Nel
son Kessell, plant superintendent
since the first year of operation,
assisted by Mr. F. B. Galligan who
later joined the organization,
guided these and all subsequent
plant modifications. This year
marked the beginning of the
Christmas parties for Fire
stone children and was also the
first year for the All-Sports
Production of rayon fabric was
introduced in 1938 on an experi
mental basis. In August of that
year Mr. Mercer succeeded H. M.
McKelvie as Vice-President and
General Manager of the Company.
During 1940 the first village
house was sold to an employee, un
der an approval authorizing the
sale of a limited number of com
pany-owned houses. A total of 83
houses were sold before the pro
gram was terminated because of
the war threat. Firestone was one
of the first companies to sell their
houses to employees. Since 1940
many other textile concerns have
adopted this policy.
In 1941 production of rayon tire
cord was undertaken on a large
scale basis, and during that year
Mr. W. A. Karl became President
of Firestone Cotton Mills, Inc.
^ ^ ^
ALSO IN that year the Liberty
Mutual Insurance Company award
ed the Firestone Cotton Mills, Inc.,
a safety plague for having estab
lished the world’s record for em
ployee safety in the textile indus
try. This record was set between
July 1, 1938, and February 14,
1941, dui4ng which time not one
lost-time injury occurred in 9,217,-
145 man-hours of work.
The vacation program for clock
employees started in 1942. In April
of that year employees having suf
ficient service could look forward,
for the first time, to a vacation
with pay. ... an innovation in the
During 1942 Firestone Cotton
Mills, Inc., and its people began to
feel the full impart of the war.
Rubber, .being a critical war ma
terial, was soon on the restricted
list for civilian use. Thus tire pro
duction for such use was cut, re
sulting in decreased need for tire
cord. To prevent curtailment in
operations it was necessary to en
ter the sales yarn business, and in
that year more than 5,000,000
pounds of yarn were sold. Most of
this yarn found its way into tent
duck for the United States Army.
The Gastonia plant also shared in
the production of tent duck by
weaving 500,000 pounds of it in
During 1943 yai'n sales decreased
somewhat but production of ai’my
duck expanded 1,000,000 pounds,
signifying a change to full-time
THE WAR YEARS were char
acterized by efforts aimed at the
stimulation of production through
i improved employee efficiency, low
er rate of absenteeism, decreased
labor turnover and training courses
for new employees. Typical of
labor saving machinery introduced
at that time was the long draft
roving for the card room.
To enlighten employees and local
citizenry alike, a mammouth dis
play of war products manufactur
ed by the parent company (con
taining in most cases fabric from
the Gastonia plant) was present
ed at the Gastonia Armory in the
fall of 1944.
On February 26, 1944, the late
Honorable Robert P. Patterson,
Undersecretary of War, notified
the Firestone Cotton Mills, Inc.,
of its selection for the Army
Navy “E” Award as a result of
outstanding production for the war
The award ceremony took place
before a throng of employees and
townspeople on the afternoon of
March 27, 1944. For the occasion
a platform was built from the
Main Office to the street. Second
Avenue. Brigadier General H. F.
Safford, USA, made the presenta
tion for the War Department;
Harold Mercer, plant manager,
received it on ibehalf of all the em
ployees. Award pins were present
ed to the employees by Captain A.
T. Clay, USN, and these were re
ceived by Ben Davis, employee
representative. The late Russell A.
Firestone was present, represent
ing the Board of Directors, The
Firestone Tire & Rubber Company.
With the introduction of rayon
at Firestone’s Gastonia plant, it
soon became evident that a more
inclusive corporate name was need
ed. Consequently in 1944, the name
was changed to Firestone Textiles,
Incorporated. Finally in September
of 1950 that name was changed,
with the dissolvement of the cor
poration, and the present name
adopted: Firestone Textiles, oper
ating as a division of the Fire
stone Tire & Rubber Company.
* * * * *
AFTER the Japanese Surrender
and as materials became increas
ingly available, a program was
launched to improve efficiency and
working conditions. Considerable
improvement was undertaken in
the plant with an eye to quality,
now that pressure for war produc
tion was eased. Some of the more
important installations which have
been completed to date are:
1. Complete fluorescent lighting
throughout the plant.
2. Mechanical materials handling
3. Overhead cleaning in the spin
4. Controlled atmospheric condi
tion in the rayon weave room-
5. Conveyor systems for handl
ing fabric rolls.
6. New boilers.
7. Loom improvements.
8. New slashers.
9. Complete repainting of mill in
10. Tray conveyor system.
In 1946 the John W. Thomas
award was presented for the first
time to the outstanding Boy Scout
of Gaston County. This annua]
award (established by the late Mr
John W. Thomas, Honorary Chair
man of the Board of Directors, t’hj
Firestone Tire & Rubber Coni’
pany) has encouraged scouting
tremendously in this area, and is
probably the most sought-after
individual award offered to scouts
in the county.
Two important personnel chang
es were made in 1948: Nelsoi
Kessell was promoted to genera
superintendent and F. B. Galligan
was transferred from the Benn-
etsville, S. C., plant, as plant super^
DURING 1949 the sale of the roj
maining village houses was resunflj
ed and practically all of these wer^
sold by the end of 1950. Also this
year marked the beginning of th
annual Firestone Hobby Show, ai
event that has grown in size an
popularity each year to the extenj
that now it receives favorablj
notice from Gastonia people gen'
Late in 1949 it was decided tha*.
a program of selling some of oui
surplus cotton yarns was advisal^^i
and since then substantial quan)
titles of high grade carded yarn
have been sold to the textile trad
In similar fashion the sale of larg'
quantities of our square woveii
fabric has been carried out.
The “forties”, especially the wai
years, revealed an increasing iu‘
terest in home gardens, or Victory
Gardens as they were called during
the war. Firestone’s contributioil
in gardening earned it the highesi
National Institute Award for seV
eral consecutive years betweei*
1943 and 1948. This program ha
been discontinued because of '
lack of suitable land for th
PERHAPS the brightest staf'
surely the most recent, in our cd'
lection of milestones and memori®^
is the Fiftieth Anniversary of
founding of The Firestone Tire
Rubber Company. The very meHj
tion of the year 1950 still bring'
up comment on the Ringli»^|
Brothers Circus' special annivfifs^.
ry show for Firestone employees
Realizing the need for increase'
insurance benefits for hospital au'
surgical care. Firestone ha'
made every effort to see that eU’
ployees have as much coverage ^
possible in this connection. By ‘
series of changes in our group
surance, we now have one of
most generous policies of its kii’^
anywhere. Concurrent with the
pansion and improvement of
surance has been the developmeJ^
of a retirement plan for employe^®'
.... And the end is not yet!
story of progress is a continuiJ^^-
story—a living drama that
before our eyes constantly.
thing to look for, work for and
proud of. . . . at FIRESTONE-