NACCO INDUSTRIES, INC. evolved from the North American Coal Corp., once a major supplier of coal in the Great Lakes region. 

FRANK E. TAPLIN founded the forerunner of North American Coal, the Cleveland & Western Coal Co., in 1913. Originally a one-man coal-selling agency, it subsequently established itself as a coal shipper, with large dock properties in Milwaukee, Duluth, and other Great Lakes ports by the 1920s.The company acquired an interest in three underground mines in Ohio to better serve customers. Although the company purchased its first underground coal mine in 1917, it was not until the firm's reorganization in 1925 as the North American Coal Corp., which ranked as one of the largest underground mining firms in the nation, that the company moved into coal mining seriously. North American Coal Corp. acquired coal lands near Powhatan Point, OH, where its mine became the first in Ohio to be completely mechanized. By 1931 the Powhatan Mine grew into the largest underground mining operation in the state of Ohio. It purchased additional mines in West Virginia in the 1930s, and later in Pennsylvania.

Taplin died in 1938 and was succeeded by the company’s treasurer Larry Larsen, though the Taplin remained as the majority owners of the North American Coal Corporation. The presidency was taken over by Henry G. Schmidt in 1942, which set in motion the professionalization of the company’s management. Railroads and domestic heating businesses relied on bituminous coal. Bituminous coal use for these purposes declined in the 1940s and in 1948, therefore North American Coal pursued long term contracts with electric utility companies to ensure its future profitability.

The company’s stock was traded publicly for the first time in an over-the-counter offering in 1956. In the late 1960s, the firm began operations in the West, opening its first lignite coal mine in North Dakota in 1957. By the late 1970s, in joint ventures, the company began to explore and mine the lignite fields of eastern Texas. By 1976, the company assembled more than four billion tons of lignite reserves. The increasing emphasis on these western operations for the company was reflected in a major restructuring, which resulted in the relocation of North American Coal to Dallas, TX, in 1987, while the parent company, NACCO Industries (formed the previous year), remained in Cleveland. NACCO Industries, Inc. serves as a public holding company for North American Coal.

The relocation of the coal business and the formation of the new parent company marked the company's continued efforts to diversify. These efforts began in earnest in 1985, when the company acquired interest in Yale Materials Handling Corporation, a maker of lift trucks. In 1989, NACCO acquired the Hyster Company, which, along with Yale Materials, formed the firm's materials handling division. NACCO spun off the Hyster-Yale division in September 2012. At that point the division was generating revenues of nearly $2.5 billion. Alfred M. Rankin, Jr. President and CEO of NACCO continued in that capacity for Hyster-Yale.

NACCO's other main division-the retail housewares division-was formed after the company acquired WearEver-ProctorSilex and the specialty retailer, the Kitchen Collection, in 1988. NACCO shed WearEver in 1989, and merged ProctorSilex with Hamilton Beach in 1990. In 1996, NACCO added several large European warehouse equipment makers to its materials handling group and in 2000, the company purchased a number of coal operations previously operated by Phillips Coal Company. These acquisitions ranked North American Coal as the largest lignite coal producer in the U.S. By 1995, the company's subsidiaries employed over 11,000 workers and had a net income of $42.1 million. By 1999, NACCO Industries topped the PLAIN DEALER'S top ten list of performing companies in Northeast Ohio with total revenues of $2.5 billion.

Headed by Alfred M. Rankin, Jr., NACCO Industries was headquartered at 5875 Landerbrook Dr. in MAYFIELD HEIGHTS in 2013 at which time it employed 9,300 (of which 5,400 worked for Hyster-Yale). Combined revenues as of 2012 stood were in excess of $3.8 billion with net income of approximately $140 million.

As of 2019, J.C. Butler Jr. served as the President and CEO of NACCO Industries and North American Coal Corporation, holding the NACCO position since 2017 and the North American Coal Corporation position since 2015.

Updated by Matthew Saplak

Article Categories