Monroe County Library System,  Monroe, MI 48162


Bygones of Monroe:


Committee of Citizens Visit the Plant and Are Enthusiastic Over it.

At the council Monday night verbal reports were submitted by the committee of citizens who had gone to Bascom, O., last Thursday to look over the plant of the Mathews Boat company, which is willing to locate here if the proper inducements are offered. The committee consisted of Fred C. Wagner, Chairman, and Ald. M. F. Sieb and Com C. E. Greening. All came with glowing expressions of the company, its business, the standing of the men and its great benefit to Monroe if it could be secured.

Mr. Greening stated that at present the plant consists of the main building, 200 by 35 feet, another about 60 by 70 feet and several smaller buildings, that there were about 30 hands employed now, which is the dull season; that the office force comprised about six people; That their site covered about half an acre of ground. The reason for their wanting to move is because their quarters are too small so that they have to turn orders away and rather than extend their buildings at Bascom, they are looking for a location where they can get water frontage, which they lack entirely at Bascom. The boats that they manufacture Mr. Greening declared were the highest grade that he has ever seen in his life; they are of a special design, not a steel or iron bolt or rivet enters into their construction- all are of brass or copper to the finish of the boats is the very best. They make no low priced boats, but cater to the best trade and are now sending boats to Manchuria, South America, Paris and England. At present they are limited as to the size of their boats as they have to be shipped by rail, but if located here they can build them of any dimensions. The present business warrants the statement that it will soon increase so as to employ 200 or 300 or even more hands. Mr. Greening stated that he felt sure the company would come here if a suitable site were offered, as he had given them to understand that Monroe was not paying any attention to bonus hunters.

Mr. Wagner said that he had gone down with the firm conviction that the whole thing was a fake and he was prepared to give it a black eye, in fact went down to look fir its poor points, But he had been compelled too quickly Changed his mind and declared it "the best thing he had ever seen," both as to its own merit and the benefit to the city. The history of the company is such as to inspire confidence. It started fourteen years ago, when Mr. Mathews, then hardly more than a boy, built a boat of his own design in a saw mill. The boat was so handsome, so well and honestly built that others wanted one like it and before long the business was too much for him to handle, whereupon a stock company was formed. While Mr. Mathews is the designer, Mr. Wells is just as thoroughly posted in the work and another man is prepared to take the latter's place at any minute, so that the success of the firm is not dependant on any one man. The mechanics employed there Mr. Wagner said were of the highest type and nearly all owned their own homes. He also commented on the workmanship on the boat and the reliability of the stockholders, who between them control money up in the millions. As to their asking on to take stock, he said that he asked if there was any for sale, as he knew of a party who wanted to invest $10,000 in it. But he had been told that there was none, the $50,000 stock had all been taken, he also said that he thought the offer of a good site would bring them here.

He then showed a rough drawing of the site under consideration, the Sterling docks from the "slip" westward. They wanted about 700 feet of frontage, the ground to slope toward the water's edge, and another slip would have to be dredged at the west end. The ground would have to be filled up a little to guard against danger from floods, but the dirt from digging the slip and sloping the ground would serve for this The company would erect buildings costing about $50,000 and would keep their Bascom plant running until the new one's completion. As to the cost of the site he could give no figures, as Mr. Sterling had not returned from the north, but the committee had been given to understand that the Sterling estate would dispose of it for a nominal sum, as it would help their other property in the vicinity and the site could be used for nothing except a concern that needed water frontage.

Ald. Seib endorsed all that had been said and gave it as his belief that the city should make a strong effort to bring the company here; he considered the workman as one of the finest lot of men he ever saw in a factory and the mechanics were the best as a whole that he had ever met; that he does not think any outside concern ever offered as good prospects to the city as this one, and that the city should at least offer a free site.

Some of the alderman had themselves inquired into the matter and the unanimous sentiment of the meeting was that something should be done at once and the committee was therefore given power to act, get the price of the site and attend the other preliminaries.

(Monroe Democrat, September 8, 1905)

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