The EBERHARD MFG. CO. (DIV. OF EASTERN CO.) was one of the nation's largest producers of malleable iron wagon and carriage hardware and one of only a handful to survive the demise of the horse-drawn vehicle industry. Eberhard owed its existence to the Cleveland Malleable Iron Co. (E.79th and Woodland), established in 1868 by Robert Hanna and four other investors for the production of malleable iron castings for a variety of industrial uses. The firm quickly became a national leader in the field. In 1879, company president Alfred A. Pope formed the Eberhard Mfg. Co. to supply malleable iron castings to the nation's rapidly expanding wagon and carriage industry.

Pope established the Eberhard works near Cleveland Malleable's plant and, like that firm, drew much of its workforce from the HUNGARIAN COMMUNITY. Under Pope's direction, Eberhard was soon producing enormous quantities of castings, ranging from simple "d" rings and buckles for the saddlery trade to more complex items such as steps and fifth wheels for wagon and carriage makers, for sale in its extensive series of heavily illustrated catalogs. At the firm's height at the turn of the century, Eberhard's plant occupied nearly twelve acres and employed over 1,000 people. Finding a growing market for malleable iron casting within the burgeoning automobile industry, parts for automobiles soon made up the majority of Eberhard business after Pope's death in 1913. In 1936, Eberhard became a division of the Eastern Malleable Iron Co. of Naugatuck, CT, then the oldest malleable iron company in the United States. Eberhard continued to be a significant Cleveland firm and was an important supplier of parts for military landing craft and amphibious vehicles during WWII.

In 1973, citing the increasing space and production limitations at its old plant (as well as a turn away from the use of rail shipment), company executives moved Eberhard's production facilities to a new industrial park in Strongsville; Midwest Wire Co. moved to the old site the following year. Of the new plant, the company could boast of a more efficient floor plan and convenient truck access at the spacious new ten acre site. By 1998, Eberhard employed approximately 150 people producing vehicle, industrial, and container hardware at its facility at 21944 Drake Rd. in Strongsville.

Article Categories