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1920s - The Foundation

The last five years of the 1920s got the National Gypsum Company off to a "roaring" start. Events came fast and furious. Three men, who lost their jobs when Beaver Board Company folded, started a new company with $100,000 in capital. With their complementary skills they developed a better wallboard, sited a gypsum source, raised capital, hired a sales staff before they had a plant, built two plants, fought off their competitors, and started advertising in the Saturday Evening Post.

August 25, 1925 – National Gypsum Company founded by Melvin H. Baker, Clarence E. Williams, and Joseph F. Haggerty – The wallboard they introduced was lighter, stronger, and less brittle. All three had worked for Beaver Board Company, a wood-fiber board company.

Haggerty – former vice president of Beaver Board. 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.

Williams -- former head of geological research for Beaver Board. – Had options on mineral rights for gypsum at Clarence Center, NY.

Baker – former national sales manager for Beaver Board.

Three men set up shop to refine the new wallboard product in the basement of J & A Keller Machine Company, Buffalo, NY. Later the company moved to Buffalo's Jackson Building.

August 29, 1925 – National Gypsum Company incorporated in Delaware.

November 1925 – Construction began on Clarence Center Plant.

National Gypsum sales representatives sold stock in the company to individual investors before they ever sold wallboard.

Clarence Center – First plant/quarry, located 15 miles from Buffalo – purest gypsum deposit in the East.

Sash Weight Test used to sell the new board – salesmen would put a piece of the new wallboard on a set of sawhorses then stack window sashes on it. The competitive products were demonstrated, too. National Gypsum board was one-third stronger than USG's. The test caught the eye of building supply companies. The salesmen sold all the production of the plant.

Products sold exclusively by recognized lumber and building materials dealers.

First products sold under National Mineral Board brand. Every new dealer received a certificate offering a $5000 bond to anyone who could prove that claims made for National Gypsum's products were untrue. The certificate was gold-colored and dealers began calling the new board Gold Bond. There is no record that a bond was ever forfeited.

National Gypsum began promoting Gold Bond to a national audience in the Saturday Evening Post, even though it had only one plant.

Competition tried to stop National Gypsum through letters to competitors – "Do not be misled by irresponsible claims. If it were possible to make a better product, with all our resources and experience, we would have made it." When that did not work, the competitors went to the predecessor of the Gypsum Association claiming less gypsum in the board would destroy fireproof qualities and the structural integrity. Testing proved them wrong.

June 30, 1927– National City, MI – constructed -- $1.6 million. Quarry and plant located in Emery Junction, Mich. The community was so glad to get the jobs it renamed the town, National City. The plant produced both wallboard and plaster.

Gold Bond registered trademark. Gold Bond became the brand for the company's two products – wallboard and plaster. Gold Bond became more recognizable than the company name, National Gypsum.

Haggerty dies of pneumonia. Williams retires due to ill health. Directors elect Melvin H. Baker president, a position he would hold until 1952, when he became chairman of the board.

Company acquires Finish Lime Plant, Luckey, OH


The Founders
 
 
 
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