The WILHELM PLOTZ MACHINE & FORGE CO. is a family-operated manufacturing business. Now owned and managed by the 4th generation in 2005, the firm has been in operation since 1888. In April 1888, Wilhelm Ploetz (the "e" was later dropped), a German immigrant, opened Plotz Iron Works Water Street (W. 9th St.), north of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Depot. The firm did blacksmith work as well as tool and die making. A few years later, Plotz moved his fledgling operation to Champlain St. in order to accommodate railroad expansion plans. Plotz Iron Works was located at 112 Champlain St. and later at 401 Champlain St., before moving to make way for the CLEVELAND UNION TERMINAL complex. In 1921, the firm moved again, this time to E. 14th St. and St. Clair Ave. After Wilhelm's death in 1922, the company was incorporated as the Wilhelm Plotz Machine & Forge Co. and was operated by Wilhelm's sons, Oscar and George. By this time, demand for carriage work subsided and the firm began forging for the automobile industry, including Cleveland's PEERLESS MOTOR COMPANY and WHITE MOTOR COMPANY. The next generation was represented by Oscar's three sons, William, Robert, and Walter. Walter became president in 1959 and continued with the firm until he retired in 1988, when he was succeeded by his son, James, along with his brothers, Kenneth and Thomas.
Strong on tradition, the company continues to serve customers with machinery repair and by forging custom replacements for obsolete parts. A major part of the firm's current business is repairing water pumps as area representative of Peerless Pump Co. of Indiana. In 1987 the Wm. Plotz Machine & Forge Co. outgrew its St. Clair Ave. space, and moved to Center St. in the FLATS, nearly doubling the size of its facility. The family-owned company employed 18 in 1995.