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Joseph F. Haggerty

August 1925 – National Gypsum Company founded by Melvin H. Baker, Clarence E. Williams, and Joseph F. Haggerty – Wallboard they introduced was lighter, stronger, and less brittle. All three had worked for Beaver Board Company, a pioneer wallboard company. They started their new company with $100,000. At the time, they had 25 competitors.

Haggerty – former vice president of Beaver Board. Worked there for 14 years.

Experimented with a new formulation for gypsum board in his kitchen – starch to cause the slurry to adhere to the paper; shredded newspaper to give the board flexibility; frothed paper pulp to make the board lighter, stronger, and less brittle.

Three men set up shop to refine the new wallboard product in the basement of J & A Keller Machine Company.

The founders needed to raise $2 million to build a plant and get their new company started. They could not sell stock in the conventional way. They had hired a small group of experienced salesmen before the company even had a plant. Baker put these men to work selling stock to individuals.

1928 – the company faced two patent infringement suits which it lost. Shortly after that, Williams retired due to failing health. Melvin H. Baker became president of the fledgling company. Even though the company had difficulties, it raised the necessary capital to build the National City Plant and add gypsum plaster to the product line.

1929 - Joseph F. Haggerty died in April.


Haggerty wrote the company's goals in 1925:

• To be enough competitive that the business would be national in scope.

• To first broaden the company's market by acquiring companies in the gypsum business.

• To diversify the product line by finding new lines allied to gypsum that could be sold to the same dealer trade by one selling organization.

• To acquire companies where their output of materials could be largely used in National Gypsum's own production – such as paper mills and mineral deposits.