The Korean Conflict Years

John B. Jr. spent his high school years at Western Reserve Academy, graduating in 1944. On July 1, 1944, I entered the Navy and was assigned to Notre Dame as part of the V-12 officers training program. After V-J day, August 1945, I resigned from the program and was sent out on a destroyer, the USS Shannon, for six months’ service along the Atlantic coast before being discharged July 1, 1946. That fall, I entered Case Tech as a sophomore and graduated in 1949 with a degree in engineering administration, primarily mechanical engineering, with some business courses. Primarily encouraged by my mother, I arranged for a job at Union Metal in Canton. When I told my father, JB and Art, they urged me to reconsider and come to WG, which did need help. The incentive offered was eventual control of the company. I accepted and went to work. There was plenty of work.

Although the demand for hot tops and face brick was strong, decent earnings just were not happening. In the words of Art Estep, “We will have several nice, profitable months and then the yield of good hot tops will drop below 50 percent for about six weeks and the losses will cancel out the prior month’s profits. The problems are cracked ware or hot tops that are unusable because they won’t fit in the ingot mods.” Inventories els were not updated on a daily basis, so customer shipments were missed because we did not have the product. The customers all had two or three suppliers, so they could order from someone else if we missed a delivery.

I worked on these problems for a year and then was drafted into the Army for service in the Korean War. Jim Crowe, from our laboratory staff, and George Skaggs, Magnolia plant manager, were called back into the Army as reserves about the same time. My father had encouraged me to get more education and I received notice I had been admitted to the Harvard Business School the same week I reported to Fort Knox for training. Most Navy veterans were exempt from Korean service unless called up in the naval reserve. I did not stay in the reserve and the Carroll County draft board chose me before some of the young farmers to fill their quota of draftees. The experience worked out pretty well. I had an engineering degree and after training, was assigned to teach heavy equipment maintenance at the Engineer Center at Fort Belvoir, VA. The practical experience of teaching maintenance of power shovels and bulldozers was invaluable when dealing with the wide variety of heavy equipment involved in heavy clay product manufacturing. In the summer of 1952, I was discharged from the Army and returned to WG, along with Jim Crowe and George Skaggs.