Loyal Business and Industry

Source: LOYAL CENTENNIAL BOOK (Loyal, Clark County, Wis.) 1870 - 1970


O. W. Trindal Company

The force of character leaves its mark in every community. The growth and development of a town reflects the integrity and vision of the men who make up its business establishments. Loyal has been fortunate in this respect.

Orin Trindal, coming as he did to the village of Loyal in 1923 to enter the milling business, was one of these men. He arrived at a time when Clark County, Wis. was just discovering its potential as a dairy center. Today the county ranks fourth in the United States in the number of dairy cows. Trindal, along with others in the area, pioneered the development of the commercial feed business, opening the way for dairymen to move beyond the production barrier imposed by the dual purpose cow and a lactation period based on the summer pasture season.

The breed association, and later the artificial insemination program, were used to produce a dairy cow whose productive capacity was far beyond that ever anticipated by the early settlers, who turned from the fleeting and meager sustenance of the logging and lumber industry to the more profitable and stable enterprise of dairying.

The company had its real beginning in 1925 when O. W. Trindal purchased the interest of his partners, the Dickensen Bros. The partnership had included an implement business and the Chevrolet garage. However, only the mill and the implement business was acquired by the new owner and he soon disposed of the machinery line. The success that often goes with enthusiasm lead to an expansion program, which in time included the purchase of elevators in Granton, Spencer, Riplinger, and Auburndale. The Spencer station was later sold and a wholesale location established at Withee.

Orin Trindal died in 1961, leaving his son William to continue the business briefly until his untimely death in 1963.

It would be safe to say that this is one of the few retail and wholesale feed companies in the state to be operated by a woman, Mrs. Orin Trindal. Hazel, to her many friends. Picked up the reins of management following the death of her husband and son, and has been active in the company ever since. Many of the decisions made in the operation of the company are hers alone. In her comments on the success of the business, she does not hesitate to give credit to the many good and faithful employees who have remained with them through the years.

Dairy Plants

Loyal's first known creamery was owned by a stock company and is believed to have been located in the area of Lothar Oestreich's Skelly service station. It operated briefly in the early 1890's. The company's interest was taken over by the Jenks Brothers in 1898. They continued to operate intermittently until 1918, when a boiler explosion resulted in the death of two men and the destruction of the building.

About this time a farmers' cooperative was organized and a cheese factory built, which is still in use as a garage and storage building adjacent to the Borden Company's Cold Storage Plant. Heinie Newman's father, Henry Newman, was one of the first cheese makers in this factory. The farmers' cooperative subsequently sold out to Lakeshire and a large new brick factory was built in 1928 at a cost of $120,000. Frank Coryell and Andrew Lewis were officers of the cooperative at the time the sale was made. Harry Oestreich and Frank Schwanke were among the employees who moved from the old frame building to the large brick structure. Lakeshire continued to make American and Swiss cheese here until 1938, when the building was insulated with cork and converted to a cold storage warehouse. The capacity of the building is 5 1/2 million pounds of cheese. Heinie Newman says it is full all the time. As the aged product is moved out, new cheese is moved in.

Mr. Newman has been employed continuously at this location since May 28, 1930.

Loyal Canning Company

Elmer Sterr recalls the spring of 1925 as the year of the big snow. He and his young family came from Lomira by rail to Spencer. There they remained for two days spending a good part of each day in the old sooty railroad depot waiting for a snow plow to clear the tracks to Loyal, their destination.

With four years of experience in the vegetable canning business, Sterr was determined to go on his own. Construction on the new factory began in the fall of 1925 and was completed in time for the 1926 canning season. Four hundred acres were harvested and processed that first year. In 1930 capacity of the plant was doubled to 800 acres. All acreage was contracted with the individual farmer and for the most part this arrangement continues. In the early days of the stationary viner, it was considered that each viner could handle about 60 acres of peas. These stations were spotted about the area in convenient locations to accommodate the farmers who had production contracts. The vines were first cut with a combination horse mower and wind mower, then pitched on to a wagon by hand and transported to the nearest viner station, where they were pitched, again by hand, into the viner. After the harvest was over, these stations could usually be detected for quite a distance downwind because of the pungent odor of vines curing into silage, most of which remained the property of the producer, and were returned to the farm for cattle feed during the long winter months. Beans were canned in 1934, with production continuing until 1944, when the practice was discontinued in favor of sweet corn. The development of improved varieties of sweet corn had made it possible to grow this crop profitably in Clark County.

Innovations were quickly adopted by Sterr, when it was felt that they would improve the efficency of his operation either in the factory or the field. Among the more recent was the purchase of mobile viners in 1957, the first to be used in the state. This move mechanized field harvesting and put an end to the old viner station. Elmer Sterr has been in the vegetable canning business for 50 years, the last 44 being spent right here in Loyal. In 1967 his son-in-law, Mr. W. L. Lee joined the company.

Citizens State Bank

Sixty-one years ago, Oct. 14, 1909, a group of civic minded residents from in and about Loyal, held a meeting to organize a bank. Mr. W. J. rush was appointed chairman and Mr. Albert Davel assumed the duties of secretary. The name of Citizens State was chosen and the original offering of 250 shares of common stock at $100 a share was readily subscribed by members of the committee and others of the community. Seven men were selected on the first ballot: Robert Connor, M. R. Doyle, Dr. H. H. Christofferson, Albert Davel, W. J. Rush, William Lenling, and B. W. Colby. Before the actual opening of the bank on Dec. 9, 1909, two more directors were elected: C. H. Brown and C. B. Esselman. Mr. M. F. Doyle served as the first president until 1912, when C. H. Brown was promoted for the post of vice president. He served for more than 15 years in that office. In 1928, J. M. Philpott was appointed president and saw the bank through the trying days of the depression. After his death in 1941, Dr. H. H. Christofferson succeeded him and served for 13 years. His interest in finance was evidenced by the establishment of an excellent bond portfolio during his term. The bank's fifth president, Orin Trindal, led the bank to all time highs in every respect. His chief contribution, to establish an aggressive loan policy.

Besides these executives, many directors have contributed to the bank. The longest term was filled by Clem B. Esselman, who held his post on the board continuously from the beginning in 1909 until his accidental death in 1953, 44 years. Another veteran was George V. Weyhmiller, who served for 33 years. Others were Joseph Bertz, 22 years; F. W. Draper, 16 years; Harry Haslett, 13 years; Thomas Froeba, 22 years; A. E. Darton, 2 years; Otto Roehl, 5 years; George Schock, 1 year; Fred Lakosky, 11 years; and Albert Davel, one of the original directors, 13 years. His son, Paul, is the present executive vice president.

Harry Haslett was appointed the first executive officer of the bank and served as cashier from 1909 until he resigned in 1928. During that time resources rose to the half million mark, but more important, the systems and routines, many in use today, were established by this outstanding banker.

The history of Citizens State is, in many respects, the personal history of the next executive officer, James R. Colby. Mr. Colby joined the staff as assistant cashier in Jan. 1911, drawing the impressive salary of $25 per month. He resigned in 1918, but became a director two years later, serving in that capacity until 1927. On Jan. 14, 1929, he succeeded Mr. Haslett as cashier, a position he held for thirty years. 1929 was not the best year to take over as cashier of any bank, and much of the credit for passing through the difficult decade of the 1930's must go to Mr. Colby. In March of 1933 the State Commissioner of Banking declared a banking holiday, closing Citizens State for the only time in its history. However, just 4 days after examination by state authorities, it was permitted to reopen. Thereafter, with prudent policies and public confidence restored, it began a steady climb to achieve record highs in deposits and resources when Mr. Colby retired as executive officer in Dec. 1958. He served as president and valued director until his death in Oct. 1968.

Many milestones mark the progress of Citizens State. In the middle of the Depression, 1934, the Board of Directors voted to purchase a former bank building in Granton. The original intention was to use the new facility as a paying and receiving station, and for many years the addition ran at a net loss, but it has proven to be a worthy adjunct. Another landmark was the construction of its present quarters in 1922. During the first 13 years the business was conducted in the building currently occupied by Wepfer's Pharmacy and the moved into the new building was a significant step forward. In 1961 and 1962 an extensive remodeling was undertaken to keep the image of the building in accord with its modern policies and general progress.

Present officers of the bank are as follows:

Loyal State Bank

The Loyal State Bank was organized in 1903. It opened May 3, with a capital of $25,000 in the building that is now the Carousel Beauty Shop. The prime movers in establish the bank were H. S. Mulvey and A. A. Graves. Graves was its first president, B. W. Colby, vice president, H. S. Mulvey, cashier, and C. E. Tucker, assistant cashier.

In 1917 the Loyal State Bank built the new building, "one of the finest and best in the county," with a front of Lake Superior brown stone and fireproof side walls. There were two vaults on the main floor and one in the basement. Finished in oak, with marble wainscot and floors, it was electrically lighted and heated with a hot water system. At this time A. A. Graves was president and R. M. Jenks cashier.

When the bank failed in the early thirties, its assets were disposed of and the building became the post office.

Wepfer Pharmacy

Emil Wepfer, a native of Neillsville, Clark County, Wis., opened a drug store in Loyal in 1923. He purchased the building owned by Hiram Jackson and located in the Allen block of Loyal's main street.

Previous to this time he had completed his education in Philadelphia and spent three years working as a pharmacist for C. C. Sniteman in Neillsville.

In July 1931, following the disastrous fire in the Allen block, Wepfer opened a store at the present location, then as now billed as the NEW Wepfer Pharmacy.

The store remains in the Wepfer family, with Tom taking over the business in 1964. While the sale of horse lineament continues to decline, the prodigious number of dairy cows in the area requires a substantial inventory of drugs for the treatment of various bovine diseases, which plague modern dairymen.

The Wepfers report that potent medicines still play an important part in the treatment of common Ailments. Although people have, through modern research, made these remedies much more effective. The tedious tasks of measuring and sifting minute quantities of various drugs endured by the early druggist has been changed by the application of modern methods to the formulation and manufacture of these products.

Roth Manufacturing Co., Inc.

The Roth Mfg. Co., Inc., owned by the Norman and Violet Roth family, manufactures metal products and distributes to feed and farm supply dealers.

The chief items fabricated are small to medium sized bins and hoppers for dairy farms and feed mills, barn limers, calf stalls and cow trainers. Besides the above items the above items the following supplies are distributed: Cars, wheels, chain elevators, augers and bulk feed bodies.

This family business had its beginning in 1956, when a few products were manufacture, namely, brooder guard springs, whey feeders and metal push toys. Of these the springs were successfully marketed.

The springs were found to be useful as cow trainers and soon trainers were manufactured. In 1968 the Marathon Kleenstall Cow Trainer Co. was purchased and a wide distribution of trainers was begun.

In 1959 the first feed bins were built. The manufacturing was done prior to April 1, 1960, in a garage and poultry house on the Roth farm, and in a garage on the farm of Gerald Kobiske, who was the first employee of the firm.

On April 1, 1960, the Roth Mfg. Co. moved into Loyal into an industrial building, which was built by Loyal Industries. They were leased 1/3 of the building, which is still the present site of Roth Mfg. Co.

During the following 10 years volume has increased steadily to about four times the original volume and in 1966 the business was incorporated.

Because of limited manufacturing space a half shift is operated in the evening during part of the year. Employment, full and part time, varies from 14 - 21.

A modest expansion program is underway, both in manufacturing and distributing department.

Kobiske Metal Works

Among the more recent industries in Loyal is Kobiske Metal Works. This enterprise started in 1957 when Mr. Gerald Kobiske was renting his father's two hundred-acre farm. In need of a new farm wagon, Mr. Kobiske decided to build his own. His idea worked out well enough to build up a twenty-five wagon a year market. Mr. Kobiske built these wagons in a garage on his farm.

In 1960 he sold the farm to work at Roth Mfg. Co. He also began making silage chippers and metal fence posts, which he sold locally. Mr. Kobiske built a new home and shop in 1962, just east of Loyal on Highway 98, where he presently resides and works. For his new home Mr. Kobiske built an outdoor step railing. He found a market for his model of step railing at Unit Steps of Marshfield.

In 1966 Mr. Kobiske left Roth Manufacturing Co. and went into full production for himself. Mr. Kobiske now produces only ornamental rails and columns, which he sells to Unit Steps at Marshfield, Mosinee, and Beaver Dam. He also manufacture his product for mobile homes at Spencer, Marshfield, Stratford, Prairie Du Chien, Reedsburg, Rapid City, S.D.; and Montevideo and St. Peter in Minnesota. Mr. Kobiske employs one fulltime man and one part time man. He also has the help of his son during the summer months.

Black River Camper Corp.

Black River Campers came to Loyal April 1, 1969, when Roland (Bud) Seeman purchased the assets of Kesler Mfg. Co. of Greenwood, Wis. Black River Camper Corp. was incorporated April 29, 1969, with the officers being LeRoy Kesler, President; Richard Kesler, Vice President; and Bud Seeman, Secretary-Treasurer. The original product was pickup toppers, but soon branched into manufacturing travel trailers and pickup cab-over campers. The present operation is in the former Seeman Rambler building on Main St. and at the time of this writing, July 17, 1970, are making plans to move into a new plant on the north side of Loyal on County Trunk K. Employment has grown from seven in April 1969, to twenty at this writing, and it is expected to increase when the move into the new quarters is complete. Present officers are LeRoy Kesler, President; Clarence Gorsegner, vice President; Roland A. Seeman, Secretary-Treasurer; and Raymond Winkel, Director.

E-Z Kamper

E-Z Kamper was organized formally in 1957. The reasons for it being started as a company go back to 1952, when Clyde Grambsch and his family decided to go on an extended trip to the West. In planning it Clyde and Eva (his wife) decided that the only way they could go on the five-week trip and cover all the miles they wanted to cover would be by camping, so they borrowed a tent from Buck Catlin and started. Needless to say, they enjoyed it very much and had only one minor problem and that is the zipper door in the tent. Eva would not be content sleeping in the tent unless the zipper door was zipped completely shut. And since the zipper went on the bottom of the door as well as up the middle, it got a lot of sand, and one night even some gum stuck in the zipper. Accidentally when Clyde zipped the zipper back he ripped a couple of teeth out of the bottom part of its, so of course, was sewing a zipper in the doorway the next day.

On their return home, Clyde decided to purchase a camping trailer. One requirement would be a regular doorway in it instead of a zipper doorway, because he had had it! Not being able to find one, he built the first E-Z Kamper in 1954. This kamper had on the back of it "Manufactured by Loyal Trailer co., Loyal, Wis." This was put on by a sign painter who painted the kamper to match Clyde's car, and thought it should have some identification. It set up quite easily and the door to enter proved to be quite a fascination to campers who had not seen anything like this before. So a bunch of inquiries came into the post office regarding the camper built by Loyal Trailer Co. this lead to the organization of E-Z Kamper Co. by Clyde Grambsch withheld from Loyal Industries. It was first located in the Seeman Garage Building. The first employees were Celen Gotter, William Essex, Eva Grambsch, and Clyde Grambsch.

The Company entered the first show in 1958 in Chicago. It was decided to ad some more employees. Hans Elsinger and Fred Rayburn were added and then it was further decided to incorporate the company. The first board of directors were Clyde Grambsch, President; William Essex, Vice President; Eva Grambsch, Secretary-Treasurer; Clarence Gorsegner, director; William Kavanaugh, director; and Max Langfeldt, director. The company has progressed since then and does have nationwide distribution, and also there are E-Z Kampers in some foreign countries. There are two in Scotland, one in England, one in Germany, three in South America, one in Australia, and quite a number in Canada, plus two in Mexico. These are known kampers, there probably are others. Clyde Grambsch further states that he likes Loyal very much and hopes that E-Z Kamper can be here for a good many more year.



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