Wean United is a former manufacturer of equipment that was used to process and finish flat-rolled steel, steel and iron rolls, iron castings, coupling boxes, annealing bottoms, and boxes and steam hydraulic forging presses in Youngstown, Ohio. It was equipped to produce castings and rolls weighing up to 100 tons.
The first industry to occupy the Wean United lots was Hamilton Works, 14 a small foundry and machine shop. It was founded by Homer Hamilton in 1856. 13 17 William Tod, the son of Governor David Tod, partnered with Hamilton to form the William Tod & Company in 1878. It constructed stationary steam engines for the iron and steel industries. 14 17 Its most common models included blowing engines and reversing motors for blast furnaces and steel mills, municipal water-works pumping engines, and gas engines from 500 horsepower to 5,000 horsepower. 14
Located at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Market Street was the Youngstown Brass Company and a laboratory. 9 At 416 Market Street was the William B. Pollock & Company, a boiler, and structural steel manufacturer. 8 9 16
In 1901, the William Tod & Company was succeeded by the William Tod Company, incorporated with William Tod as president. 14 Over time, its size expanded to 8½ acres in size and grew to over 600 employees, outputting near 7,000 tons of machinery per year.
The United Engineering & Foundry Company, founded as a stove foundry in 1849 under the name of Parmelee & Sawyer and then Ward Kay & Company along Oak Street, 15 18 manufactured rolling mill equipment. It continued under its successors, Ward, Booth & Miller, and Booth, Miller & Company. On March 1, 1888, it became the Lloyd Booth Company with a capital of $100,000, at which time the works located west of Market Street were begun. 18 The capital was then increased to $225,000. 15 18
It was followed by the organization of the United Engineering Company on July 1, 1901, with a capital stock of $5.5 million 15 18 and $7.5 million in 1910. 18 Flush with cash, United Engineering became the largest manufacturer of rolling mill and steel-works equipment in the United States, and the largest producer of steel, chilled and grey iron rolls in the world. It acquired several companies, including Lloyd Booth, which formed its departments: 15
- The Lloyd Booth Company department, which included two separate plants in Youngstown that manufactured rolling-mill and steel-works machinery, grey iron, and chilled rolls.
- The McGill department in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that manufactured rolling-mill and tube-works machinery.
- The Lincoln Foundry department, also in Pittsburgh, that manufactured only rolls used in rolling mills and steel-works.
- The Frank Kneeland department in Pittsburgh that manufactured rolling mill and steel-works machinery.
- The Vandergrift, Pennsylvania plant that manufactured iron and steel castings, and water-chilled rolls.
United constructed blooming mills and a rail mill for the Ohio Works of the Carnegie Steel Company; a blooming mill, rail mill, and billet mill for the Bessemer department of the Republic Iron & Steel Company; a blooming mill, sheet, bar, and billet mill for the new plant of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company; and a continuous rail mill and five blooming mills for Bethlehem Steel Company in Gary, Indiana. 15
In November 1916, 18 United Engineering & Foundry Company acquired the William Tod Company, rebranding itself as the Youngstown District of the United Engineering & Foundry Company. It became a heavy machine shop that manufactured equipment that processed and finished flat-rolled steel, 11 steel, and iron rolls, iron castings, coupling boxes, annealing bottoms, and boxes and steam hydraulic forging presses. It was equipped to produce castings and rolls weighing up to 100 tons. 12
In nearby Warren, the Wean Engineering Company was begun in 1929 by Raymond John Wean. 19 Wean had rented a one-room office in the Second National Bank and began formulating ideas on new approaches to steel production. It soon filled an order of pack heating furnaces for the Empire Steel Corporation in Mansfield. By the end of its first year, Wean Engineering employed seven, expanding throughout the bank building. Wean Engineering later became Wean Manufacturing, Wean Equipment, and then Wean Industries.
On December 15, 1971, Wean Industries acquired United Engineering & Foundry and became Wean United. 20
In 1964, John Wean III hired Howard L. Worner to complete paintings for Wean’s annual calendar. 1 The collaboration was a project by Bill Brown, a design student of Worner and a former manager for Carnegie-Mellon. Early paintings were usually machinery that operated in its mills, diversified with historical scenes of America and other countries. From June 1968 until September 1969, Worner was given the commission to travel abroad to Great Britain, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and South America, and paint on-location Wean machinery in steel mills and other industrial sites. The project continued until 1986.
Citing a depressed steel market, Wean United closed its Youngstown plant in 1982 and sold the property in 1985. 3 Wean then sold its United Engineering unit in 1986 to avoid pension liabilities. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) took over United’s plan in 1991 when it had $65 million in unfunded liabilities. 11 On July 20, 1993, Wean filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection, listing $21.4 million in assets and $43.1 million in liabilities. It sought to sell its 264,000 square-foot Youngstown plant to Danieli & C. SpA of Italy for $12 million with a requirement that the deal be completed by September 30.
Danieli, which manufactured arc furnaces, continuous casters, and other steel-making equipment, intended to continue operating the plant, which employed 275. After the sale, Wean would only have one plant in Canada existing which would work on a limited basis. 11
In the filing, Wean noted that it had cut 85% of its workforce since 1980 as the steel industry collapsed. 11 It posted seven straight years of losses from 1982 to 1988 but was profitable from 1989 to 1991. In 1992, it posted a loss of $22.7 million and defaulted on $17.2 million in debentures and notes, and owed $18 million in principal and interest on the debt.
In 2005, the Wean United complex was acquired by Gearmar Properties who leased out the buildings to various businesses, including Timken and Latrobe Steel. 3 Most of the tenants had left by 2010. The last holdout, Youngstown Pipe & Supply, relocated to the former Cold Metal Products property in Campbell and Youngstown in 2011.
In March 2012, the city proposed using $1,775,418 from a Clean Ohio grant and $591,806 in matching funds for environmental cleanup of the site and partial demolition of the buildings. 2 The older third section of the complex was to be razed by Gearmar and remediated using Clean Ohio funds. 5
The city was in the process of receiving the property from Gearmar to start demolition by December 30, 3 but was delayed for one year. Gearmar was in discussions with a company to locate inside a portion of the complex that incuded a 100-ton crane. Those discussions failed to land a suitable tenant, and an entire razing of the complex was instead proposed. 5
Demolition of half of the Wean United property began in late December 2013. 4 Under an agreement with the city, Gearmar demolished all but the portion of the complex with a 100-ton crane. 6 In return for using some city funds and the Clean Ohio grant, the city took possession of the property with the understanding that Gearmar had the right to lease the remainder of the building to a tenant by May 1, 2014.
With no tenant found, the remainder of the Wean United complex was demolished.
- Annarella, Lorie A. “Chapter Three.” Portraits of Industry. Lanham: University Press of America, 2004. 50. Print.
- Skolnick, David. “City plans to wreck Wean, add parking lot.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 22 Mar. 2012: n. pag. Web. 31 Dec. 2013. Article.
- Skolnick, David. “Downtown eyesore Wean must get tenant or face wrecking ball.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 26 Jul. 2013: n. pag. Web. 1 Jan. 2014. Article.
- “Former Wean United property undergoes transformation.” WKBN [Youngstown] 29 Dec. 2013: n. pag. Web. 1 Jan. 2014. Article.
- Nelson, George. “Old Wean Plant to be Razed, Opens Up Site Near Arena.” Business Journal [Youngstown] 25 May 2012: n. pag. Web. 1 Jan. 2014. Article.
- O’Brien, Dan. “Youngstown OKs Phased Demo of Wean Property.” Business Journal [Youngstown] 15 Oct. 2013: n. pag. Web. 1 Jan. 2014. Article.
- “Ohio Brownfield Inventory Database.” Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Jan. 2014. Article.
- 1896 Sanborn map.
- 1889 Sanborn map.
- 1928 Sanborn map.
- Boselovic, Len. “Wean Inc. files for bankruptcy.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 21 Jul. 1993: B-12. Print.
- United Engineering & Foundry Co. Advertisement. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 20 Feb. 1930: 26. Print.
- Rowlands, Rick. “Former Tod, United buildings have unique place in industrial history.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 1 Apr. 2012: n. pag. Web. 4 Jan. 2014. Article.
- “The William Tod Company.” 20th Century History of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Ohio and Representative Citizens. Ed. Thos. W. Sanderson. Chicago: Biographical Publishing, 1907. 263. Print.
- “United Engineering & Foundry Co.” 20th Century History of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Ohio and Representative Citizens. Ed. Thos. W. Sanderson. Chicago: Biographical Publishing, 1907. 263-264. Print.
- “John Loney.” 20th Century History of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Ohio and Representative Citizens. Ed. Thos. W. Sanderson. Chicago: Biographical Publishing, 1907. 582. Print.
- Butler, Joseph Green. “The Iron-Working Industry.” History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Ohio. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1921. 674-675. Print.
- Butler, Joseph Green. “The United Engineering & Foundry Company.” History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Ohio. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1921. 720-. Print.
- “Our History.” Raymond John Wean Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2014. Article.
- Victor Menacho v. Adamson United Company. 128 F. Supp. 1976. Leagle. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2014. Case.
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My Dad worked at Wean and was 6 months shy of full pension benefits before they let him go after nearly 20 years of service as a machinist. What can be done to bring back industry under new POTUS?
I worked at the Pittsburgh (Lawrenceville ) plant from 1969, after high school, until it’s closure after the merger with Wean Ind. Started as a “sweeper” , then to Machinist Helper, then up to the bridge cranes. Including the old foundry crane. An amazing experience for a kid right out high school. And the guys I worked with were an amazing bunch. What a great learning experience.
My grandfather Timothy Kiley was a timekeeper at United’s Frank Kneeland plant. My father Tom Kiley (whose United colleagues came to call him “Tim”) began as a clerk at age ~15 and worked there for 45 years, until his death in 1970. Though he never graduated from high school, he worked his up to become VP Purchasing and a director of the company. Coincidentally, I was born in Braddock, PA, home the the J. Edgar Thomson works–Carnegie’s first mill. These days I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I have been a director of more than two dozen companies, mostly in the life sciences. But I miss The Burgh.
I worked at United from 1967 to 1970 in the youngstown engineering office located at the weld shop. I worked wih a great group of guys. Corky was the manager and Dave ran the office. I left when things got real slow. Went back to college and finished my degree. After graduation I went back to Weans office in Warren. After a year I was hired by Alumax Aluminum in Illinois. 5 years later I went to work for Kaiser Aluminum at their Trentwood Plant. Trentwood was built by United Engineering in 1943. It was a great place to work.
My dear departed Pop started working here after he got home from Korea, and was there through the end. Though his formal education was ‘limited’ to a GED, his knowledge of mechanical engineering exceeded many of the college ‘whiz kids’ he had occasional contact with. Funny thing is, I found this the day before Father’s Day. THANK YOU.