Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, January 25, 2009, pg. 6
The name Hayes was twice prominent in Albion’s 20th century industrial history. The Hayes Wheel Company was a major producer of wheel hubs for the automotive industry. It was in existence in Albion from 1912 until November 3, 1930. It was a major Albion employer during its heyday, employing up to 450 persons in 1923. The local plant was located on N. Clark St. on the site now occupied by the Patriot Antenna firm at 704 N. Clark St.
The Albion plant produced 60% of all automotive wheels in the United States. Some of the wheels would be shipped via the old Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad tracks north to Lansing where they would be processed at the Reo plant there.
Owner and president of the Hayes Wheel Company was industrialist Clarence B. Hayes (1866-1955) of Jackson, who owned ten different factories at different locations. Clarence was a native of Ohio, and had spent several years in the automotive wheel industry before founding his company in Jackson in 1908. The Hotel Hayes in Jackson was later named in his honor.
Hayes Wheel merged with the Kelsey Wheel Company of Detroit in the summer of 1927 to form the Kelsey-Hayes Corporation. It continued its operations in Albion until November, 1930 at the start of the Great Depression. In 1935, Clarence formed Hayes Industries in Jackson which was separate from Kelsey-Hayes. That firm merged with the Albion Malleable Iron Company in 1967 to become the Hayes-Albion Corporation. People in town then had to change their vocabulary from saying they worked at “the Malleable,” into “Hayes-Albion.” Hayes-Albion was in existence until it was purchased by Harvard Industries in 1986. The now-demolished Harvard plant closed on June 28, 2002.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Clarence B. Hayes, the namesake of two major Albion employers in the 20th century.
Industrialist Clarence B. Hayes (1866-1955)
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