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LEMPCO INDUSTRIES, INC.

LEMPCO INDUSTRIES, INC.

LEMPCO INDUSTRIES, INC. was the umbrella corporation for 5 companies operating in the fields of auto rebuilding and replacement parts, die sets and supplies, and specialized machines. Started in 1918 as the Lake Erie Metal Products Co., the company produced war material in the ebbing days of World War I. After the armistice, owners James F. Strnad and John Blazek, solicited orders by day and machined axle shafts and other small parts by night. As the auto industry expanded, demand for the company's product exceeded its capacity; as a result, the company incorporated under the acronym Lempco Industries, Inc., and moved first to a larger facility on the west side, then in 1923 to 5490 Dunham Rd. in MAPLE HTS.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Lempco's product line included brake drums and shoes, lathes, and industrial machine tools and dies. During World War II, the company mass-produced shells and was awarded contracts for 5% of the shells needed by the military. Lempco's efficient and speedy production allowed it to produce 38% of the national demand, with a workforce of 500, including 100 women. At the same time, Lempco met civilian need for machine-tools through import, acquisition, and diversification, as the domestic machine-tool productive capacity was committed to the government. During the 1940s Lempco acquired Evans Reamer & Machine Co. of Chicago in 1942, Cleveland Pressed Steel Co. in 1944, and Cleveland's Webster Products Co. in 1948, establishing itself in industrial machine tools, auto shop equipment, and replacement auto parts. Throughout the 1950s the firm supplemented its product line with war material (land mines, fire bombs, shells). By 1963 the company had sales of over $35 million with a catalog of 66,000 items manufactured, bought, or sold by the company's divisions. In 1988 Lempco's major product line remained die sets and supplies, automatic transmissions, and engine repair parts, which were manufactured by its 185 employees at its Cleveland operation. By 1994, however, a continued slump in the industry led to a decline in sales to only $16 million. By 1995, Lempco had closed its Cleveland plant, moving it to Lexington, OH, although the company's corporate offices remained in the Cleveland area.