Kaleidoscope

by Ken Lahmers,

Aurora Advocate Editor;

A half century ago, residents in and near the village of Hudson were excited about the big economic boost the area was about to receive.

In March 1957, Ohio Gov. C.W. O'Neill helped to break ground at a 400-acre tract on the south end of town along Route 91 for what was to become the Terex plant of General Motors.

GM had acquired the Euclid Crane and Hoist Co. in 1953 and decided to build a huge facility in Hudson to make crawler tractors, or as most people call them -- bulldozers.

The original plant, which opened in 1958, occupied 668,000 square feet, and was said to be the most modern and best equipped of its time for producing earth-moving equipment.

Thomas Berry, archivist for the Historical Construction Equipment Association and its National Construction Equipment Museum in Bowling Green, spoke June 16 at the Hudson Library and Historical Society about the firm's history.

The gathering included a number of Terex retirees, one of which came all the way from New Mexico. The library is featuring showcases full of Terex memorabilia through at least October.

One display features promotional information written when the plant was in its infancy by longtime Auroran and former mayor -- the late Ralph Keidel -- who was its advertising and sales promotion manager.

Keidel's son, Greg, is now a Hudson resident and director of racing at Northfield Park.

The Keidels owned a handful of local weekly newspapers before selling them to Record Publishing Co.

Ralph Keidel served as chairman of the Construction Industries Manufacturing Association, an offshoot of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, in 1983.

Some info about Euclid

In addition to dozers, Euclid had made motor scrapers, off-road and dump trucks, cranes and conveyor loaders since its creation in 1909. It became the Euclid Road Machinery Co. in 1931.

Two of the popular dozers the firm made when its Hudson facility opened were the C-6 and TC-12. When the latter was introduced in 1955, it was the world's largest dozer.

The TC-12 consisted of two smaller C-6s side-by-side, with separate frames and two engines capable of developing 400 horsepower. It weighed 35 tons and was 12 feet wide. Although the TC-12 paled in comparison to today's monster mining dozers -- some weighing more than 150 tons -- its dimensions were staggering in the mid-50s.

The TC-12 became the Euclid 82-80 in 1966. The Harrison Coal and Reclamation Historical Park near Cadiz, which I visited in January and May, has one of the familiar lime green dozers.

Approximately 500 of the TC-12 dozers were sold from 1958 to 1966.

After a couple years as the 82-80, it was renamed the Terex TC-12 during the late 1960s and was discontinued in 1974. Because of an antitrust suit, GM sold its Euclid Division to White Motors in 1968.

Euclid later was involved in mergers with companies such as Daimler-Benz, Clark-Volvo, VME and Hitachi, and just about six years ago the Euclid name totally disappeared.

Many of Euclid's products became known simply as "Eucs." In fact, motor scrapers or "pans" -- even those not made by Euclid -- still are called Eucs by many earth-moving aficionados.

Some info about Terex

Meanwhile, GM formed its Terex Division in 1970 and Terex Worldwide in 1974, by which time the factory/engineering-research facilities in Hudson had grown to about 1.2 million square feet.

In 1978, Terex built the largest off-road haul truck ever made -- the 3,300 hp Titan -- for use in the coal mines of British Columbia, Canada.

Although the truck's 350-ton hauling capacity has been exceeded in recent years, it still holds the record for physically being the world's biggest truck -- 67 feet long, 22 1/2 feet high and weighing 260 tons empty.

It was retired in 1991 because it was no longer economically feasible to operate. Unlike many large mining vehicles such as Ohio's Silver Spade shovel, it has been preserved in a park in Sparwood, B.C.

In the latter half of the 1970s, IBH Holding A.G. of West Germany acquired the Terex Division from GM and in November 1983 the Terex Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Hudson plant, which produced mostly off-road mining trucks after its dozer operations were phased out, was on its way to extinction as workers' pay was cut and employees were eliminated.

The plant, which had employed more than 3,000 people in its heyday, had shrunk to less than 1,000.

In March 1985, a reorganization plan was presented to a Terex creditors committee, which called for a shift of the firm's manufacturing base to Scotland.

Terex was acquired by Northwest in 1986, but the Hudson plant closed in September 1988, and its operations were moved to Scotland, thus bringing an end to a 30-year Hudson tradition.

Terex today andJo-Ann

Terex has rebounded, and is the world's third largest construction equipment manufacturer behind Caterpillar and Komatsu, with net sales of $7.6 billion in 2006.

It boasts 18,000 employees at 50 facilities worldwide, and is listed 314th among Fortune 500 companies, a 41-place rise in the last year.

Terex has gobbled up many equipment producers in recent years, and its brand names now include Bid-Well, Genie, Demag, O&K, Simplicity and Unit Rig.

Hudson was fortunate the huge Terex plant didn't set idle too long. Fabri-Centers moved in in 1990, and the company is now called Jo-Ann Stores.

The company's roots go back to 1943 in Cleveland when a single 1,400-square-foot store was opened by two German immigrant couples. Jo-Ann Stores now employs 20,000 people nationwide.

The firm is a national specialty retailer of crafting, decorating and sewing products.

The sprawling Hudson facility is one of two Jo-Ann distribution centers nationwide. It also includes a 46,000-square-foot test store. Federal Express also leases space in the building.

In recent years, a Regal Cinema and Lechaperone Rouge Child Care have been built on parcels in front of the facility.

E-mail: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3155