John’s Story Continues… WG Leases Plant in Madison for Non-Clay Products

Steve Haw was a good engineer and important designer of many of the non-clay products. He championed the notion that the non-clay products could not be successfully produced in the unionized plant at Waynesburg. We leased a plant in Madison, Ohio, and moved the operation there. For several years the business grew, but not the profits. We went through several plant managers and even more employees. The work was hot and dirty. I finally instructed Steve to manage the Madison plant. He refused and I terminated him. Two years before, Steve had wanted to leave because all the ‘baggage’ from other operations, along with no money, inhibited the development of the non-clay business. I wanted him to stay and as an incentive, offered him ownership of the patent we had applied for, on a one-piece liner for cast iron hot tops, should the patent issue. The patent issued. We had a right to a license under the patent, so when I fired Steve, I had to decide if we wanted to be a licensee. I had a tip from a competitor that the patent was invalid and several days spent at the patent office in Alexandria, VA, confirmed the tip. I returned with a copy of a 30-year old patent covering the same invention. Steve agreed that the prior art patent made his invalid and he went on to a successful career with the B.F. Goodrich Company. Steve was right about the one-piece insert. Within a decade, using different materials, the one-piece insert was the standard of the hot top industry.