Car Radio Invented in Quincy
Taken from an article by Hal Oakley, printed in the Quincy Herald-Whig, Jan. 9, 2014
One evening in 1929, Quincyan Elmer Wavering and a buddy drove their girlfriends to Riverview Park in Quincy to watch the sunset over the Mississippi River. While the setting was already romantic, one of the women commented it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.
So, the young men took a battery-operated radio and strung up an antenna to create a workable, but clumsy, car radio. The radio worked well until the auto’s engine was turned on. Then the motor noise and electrical interference from the ignition switch, generator, spark plugs, and other equipment drowned out the sound. Methodically, Wavering and his friend identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference.
When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago. There they met Paul Galvin, who liked the prototype and invited them to set up shop in his factory. When they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his Studebaker. Galvin drove his car nearly 800 miles to Atlantic City, N.J., to show off the radio at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention. Galvin could not afford a booth, so he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up the radio so that passing visitors could hear it. He obtained enough orders at the convention to put the radio into production in September 1930…and the Motorola Company was born.
As vice president of Motorola in 1948, Wavering played a pivotal role in the location of a Motorola plant in Quincy. Eventually, the company would expand to an 850,000 square foot plant at 1300 N. 30th Street. There, the company produced Motorola radios, phonographs, automotive products, and television sets. At its peak, the plant employed approximately 3,500 people and was the area’s largest employer.
The Motorola plant closed in the mid-1970s, but the building, purchased in 1984 by the late Martin Baral of Australia, remains. Multiple Quincy companies, which employ more than 1,000 workers, call the facility home.
Quincyan Harnesses the Power of Steam
An engine that runs on steam was one of the most important technologies of the Industrial Revolution. Early machines, such as mills, had run successfully with water power, but by using a steam engine a factory could be located anywhere, not just close to water. Water power also varied with the seasons and was not available at times due to freezing, floods and dry spells.
However, in 1859, wide use of the steam engine was restricted by the uncontrollable speeds at which they sometimes operated. Engines would break down, fly apart, run wild and even explode due to the lack of speed control.
In 1860, Quincy’s Robert W. Gardner secured his first patent for a steam “governor,” an invention that effectively controlled the speed of a steam engine, helping to harness steam as a safe, dependable source of power. Gardner and his son J.W. manufactured the award-winning steam governor at the Gardner Governor Company and soon the product was being used on engines at petroleum, construction, mining and factory sites as well as on merry-go-rounds and packet-boats.
Today, the Gardner Governor Company is now known as Gardner-Denver, a global manufacturer of industrial compressors, blowers, pumps, loading arms and fuel systems, tools used in many of the same industries that used Gardner products in the late 1800s. The Company has 36 manufacturing facilities, including one in Quincy at 1800 Gardner Expressway, and offices in 34 different countries.
Moorman Manufacturing Company was Innovator in Animal Food Products
In 1885, Tom Moorman was concerned with the condition of his hogs on his farm near Big Springs, Kentucky. He wrote the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. and received a formula for a remedy or “hog tonic.” Mixing it painstakingly according to directions, he fed it to his hogs …and it helped them!
Soon, neighbors wanted to purchase some of the product, and the Moorman family established a little business in a section of their barn for mixing, packaging the product and then delivering with a spring wagon.
In 1900, two of the Moorman sons, E.V. and C.A., saw the possibilities of the product for farmers in the Midwest and located at Gorin, MO. A few years later, seeking better transportation facilities, they moved their small operation to Quincy, and the Moorman Manufacturing Company, now ADM Alliance Nutrition, was born.
The Moorman Manufacturing Company would eventually make more than 150 different products for feeding livestock and poultry and would employ nearly 4,000 workers through its subsidiaries that served producers in 34 states. The nationally known company had nine “firsts” in the animal nutrition field, all developed or uncovered in Quincy.
Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur, IL, purchased the company in the 1998 and continues to operate as ADM Alliance Nutrition at 1000 N. 30th Street in Quincy.
Largest Hallmark Independent Distributor in USA Located in Quincy
On March 10, 1948, Dale Kirlin, Sr. and his wife Marian opened their first little candy store at 108 North 6th Street. They named it “Andes Candies” after the Chicago based-candy company. Kirlin’s timing was excellent because most of the local candy kitchens had closed due to a shortage of sugar during World War II, and the public was now ready for a new candy store.
Kirlin had to borrow $5,000 from his wife’s brother to open that store. He would leave home before daylight in the station wagon to deliver merchandise and he seldom got back before dark. Sons Dale Jr. and Gary, who lead the company today, remember hand-packing candy in the family basement and personally delivering products to customers. They say the struggles in those early days toughened their resolve and turned dreams into reality.
After numerous requests from customers to offer greeting cards with their fine candy, Dale and Marian added the Hallmark card line to their little candy store.
From this small beginning, the Kirlin’s operation has grown to become Hallmark’s largest independent distributor in the USA today. Kirlin’s Hallmark now operates 91 stores in 10 midwestern states but the corporate headquarters remains in Quincy at 532 Maine, not far from their first little candy store.
Those heart-shaped candy boxes you see every Valentine’s Day? That’s right – invented and first manufactured by Quincy Paper Box!
The Quincy Paper Box Company operated at 3rd and Vermont from 1928 until 1991. The company’s original product was shoe boxes, and during the late 1930s and early 1940s, the company made boxes for the packaging of thousands of shirts, dresses and undergarments. Additional products included jewelry and gift boxes, boxes for packaging syringes and, during World War II, hand grenade fuse cartons and many other packages that could only be in demand during war time.
Candy boxes, though, were the company’s most popular item—every size from novelty one-quarter-pound boxes to heart-shaped satin-covered five-pound boxes with a corsage on top. The company became the largest manufacturer of Valentine candy boxes in the country and its products were sold to candy companies nationwide. They were the sole supplier to Russell Stover Candy Company.
Quincy’s First Family of Food
In 1940, Cecil “Sprout” McClean and his wife, Evelyn, opened Sprout’s Tavern at 1029 Broadway in Quincy, IL. While Cecil served in World War II, Evelyn handled the day to day operations, but after the war, they grew the business and moved it to a new location at 2814 N. 12th Street in 1948. Here, Sprout’s Inn had curbside service and became popular for home cooking and homemade pies.
Sprout and Evelyn had five children, and the couple taught them all about the restaurant industry. Joan and Mike, the oldest two, continued working at Sprout’s throughout their whole lives, while Rod and Jeff started their own successful restaurants. In 1979, son Patrick purchased Sprout’s from his parents, and when he passed away in 2012, his daughter Jenny Wiemelt took over the eatery.
Today, the second, third and fourth generations of the McClean Family now own and operate five of Quincy’s most popular eateries: Sprout’s Inn, Kelly’s Restaurant, Tower of Pizza, Gem City Pizzeria and Mexican, and The Abbey. Together, the restaurants employ more than 150 full- and part-time employees.
You Are Safe in an Elevator…thanks to Quincy’s Hollister Whitney Elevator Corporation
Hollister Whitney Elevator, located in Quincy’s Schneidmann Industrial Park, custom builds the mechanical parts for several thousand traction elevators each year and is internationally recognized for the development and production of safety features that have been instrumental in inspiring elevator safety around the world. Hollister Whitney produces 80% of the elevators in the United States and holds a good percentage of the international market.
If you enjoy listening to radio, thank Quincyan Parker Gates
Henry C. and Cora B. Gates founded the Gates Radio & Supply Company, now GatesAir, in 1922. Operating from the kitchen pantry of their apartment in Quincy, Ill., Henry and Cora primarily launched the company to create a job and creative platform for their 15-year old son, Parker.
Parker’s first major product was a sound system used in early “talkie” movie theaters around the country. The Gates family also developed and sold a broadcast remote amplifier, a transcription turntable and a compact condenser microphone. The war years brought more work when the Gates Radio Company manufactured military shortwave transmitters.
By the 1950s, Gates Radio had become one of the country’s principle radio equipment suppliers — a major provider of audio consoles, turntables, AM, FM and shortwave radio transmitters and accessories. It also made its first forays into the new field of television at that time.
Harris Corporation of Cleveland, OH, purchased Gates Radio in 1957 and built a 125,000-square foot plant at 30th and Wismann Lane in 1966. The business was sold to the Gores Group in 2013, which renamed it GatesAir. Today, GatesAir continues to operate from its Wismann Lane manufacturing center, innovating technology and solutions to power over-the-air analog and digital radio/TV stations and networks worldwide – including the industry’s most operationally efficient transmitters.
Athletic Field Chalk Invented in Quincy
Quincy’s limestone mine on Gardner Expressway on the southwest end of town, now mined by J.M. Huber, is known as a source of some of the whitest and purest calcium carbonate available anywhere in the United States.
Among the first to recognize the caliber of Quincy’s limestone was Thomas P. Black, who founded the Black White Lime Company, predecessor of Calcium Carbonate and now J.M. Huber, in the early 1900s. The original company turned the limestone into calcium oxide, which was used, among other things, as a flux in steel and for water purification. Thomas and his son also developed a calcium product without the burning effect of lime that is used to mark the playing area in athletic contests.
Today, the calcium carbonate products engineered by J.M. Huber from this limestone can be found in adhesives, caulks and sealants; animal feed and nutritional supplementation; carpet backing; concrete; paints & coatings; cultured marble, cleansers and polishes and more!
Scotties Fun Spot Complex Began as Portable Rink
Today’s Scotties Fun Spot, located at 8000 Broadway, began with the popularity of a portable roller skating rink that founder Albert R. “Scottie” Scott set up at area community events during the summer months. Scott had founded the kid-friendly business in 1936 with a rink in an upper floor of a building in Carthage, IL.
Seventy-five years later, under the leadership of the second and third generations of the Scott Family, Scotties Fun Spot, located at 8000 Broadway in Quincy, is a 38,000-square-foot complex that includes a high-tech space-themed laser tag arena, a 2½-story Ballocity play area complete with slides, tubes and nerf cannons, two lanes of mini-bowling, a Lazer Frenzy laser maze, Spin Zone Bumper Cars, the Winner’s Grill, a 65-game arcade (the biggest in the area), an outdoor go-kart track…and, of course, a roller skating rink. Future plans include a miniature golf course and bumper boats.
Michelmann Steel First Produced Boilers
Michelmann Manufacturing Company manufactured boilers before William Frederick Gerdes changed its product line to steel fabrication and erection. Michelmann Steel has contributed to some of Quincy’s most recognizable structures, including Quincy Junior High School, the former Illinois State Bank Building, the Western Catholic Union building, and First Union Congregational Church, among others. Michelmann Steel also played a significant role in the construction of Quincy Memorial Bridge in 1928.