CWRU Links
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CARLON PRODUCTS CORP.

CARLON PRODUCTS CORP.

 

 

The CARLON PRODUCTS CORP. was a pioneering leader in the production of lightweight plastic pipe, conduit, and fittings for use in the electrical and plumbing industries. Carlon was founded by Brigham and Philip Britton and Geo. Quinn in 1929 as the Carter Prods. Corp, a metal specialties firm. By 1940 the firm had begun producing plastic pipe and fittings, which it later introduced into a market dominated by copper and steel, believing that the lower costs, lighter weight, unlimited supply, and virtually impermeable nature of the product would ensure use by the plumbing industry. In addition to its role as a building materials supplier, Carlon was able to capitalize on the hula-hoop craze by manufacturing nearly 50,000 hula-hoops a day in the mid 1950s. Despite this novel diversion, however, the company's largest role was in producing plastic pipe for the building industry. Sales of Carlon pipe reached $9 million by 1960. As the largest manufacturer of plastic pipe, Carlon set industry standards, offering engineers, code authorities, and builders a reliable guide for choosing pipe. When the company introduced polyvinyl chloride (PVC) conduit and fittings to the electrical industry in the 1960s, it encountered opposition from the Natl. Fire Prevention Agency (NFPA) and the Natl. Electrical Code (NEC), which lasted until 1984 when both groups approved its use for residential construction. The company's growth took it from its original location on Front Ave. near the old UNION DEPOT to 10255 Meech Ave in 1942. With its acquisition by the Continental Oil Co. (Conoco) in 1960, its plant moved to Chamberlain Rd. in Aurora and its headquarters in Wilton, CT. The Headquarters returned to 3 Commerce Park Square in Beachwood when the Indian Head Corp., a conglomerate with diverse holdings, bought Carlon in 1972 for $23 million. Shortly after its purchase of Carlon, Indian Head itself was taken over by Thyssen-Bornemisza. In 1984, Carlon moved to new headquarters at 25701 Science Park Dr., and 2 years later, the company was acquired by LAMSON AND SESSIONS CO. of Cleveland. By 2003, Carlon was the largest division of Lamson and Sessions and the company continued to be the leading domestic producer of plastic pipe and conduit for the building, communication, and power industry.