James McClenaghen emigrated from Northern Ireland to the American mainland due to religious persecution. Upon his arrival in the Thirteen Colonies, McClenaghen purchased a great deal of land in Pennsylvania and began his life anew. The McClenaghen family’s determination to succeed in the new world pushed on through the American Revolution as they supported their patriot friends on the path to victory and the birth of independence in America.
A Dynasty Begins
Following the Revolutionary War, the family name changed to McLanahan and a son, James Craig McLanahan, was welcomed into the world on May 22, 1794.
James Craig grew into a hardworking young man who was determined to build a name for himself. In 1810, he traveled north to Blair County from his family farm near Greencastle, Pennsylvania, and began his career in the iron industry. He started by keeping the books for his uncle’s foundry near Williamsburg (Cove Forge, as it was known), and he became set on learning all that he could about the industry.
After his work at his uncle’s foundry, McLanahan took another job managing a larger forger in Spruce Creek before becoming the manager of operations at one of the area’s largest forges, Bedford Forge.
While at Bedford Forge, he was introduced to the owner's daughter, Elizabeth King. The two fell in love and were married on May 15, 1827.
Creation of the Company
Looking for an opportunity to move into the ownership side of the forge business, James Craig McLanahan took on two investment partners (known only by their last names), Evans and Devine, and bought majority ownership in a foundry operation.
McLanahan, Evans, and Devine created the Bellerophon Foundry in Gaysport. Named after a hero from an ancient Greek legend, the Bellerophon Foundry quickly experienced ownership changes when Devine was bought out by Michael Kelley. Kelley’s small machine and blacksmith shop paired with Bellerophon and the business began to expand.
In 1848, McLanahan bought out his original partner, Evans. Together with his remaining partner Kelley, the men moved the foundry into a canal warehouse situated on a riverbank in Gaysport, renaming the business Kelley and McLanahan.
1835 in Perspective
- PT Barnum’s circus goes on tour for the first time
- President Andrew Jackson announces that all U.S. debt has been paid
- The Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico is signed
- Samuel Clemens, later known as Mark Twain — famed American author and humorist, is born
The Next Generation
In 1849, at the age of 21, James Craig's oldest son, John King McLanahan (known as King) joined the family business, running the operations as Manager.
Prior to joining the family business, King had worked as a clerk for Pennsylvania millionaire Dr. Peter Shoenberger, who had vast investments in mining and iron ore refining. At the age of 16, this allowed King to learn the ropes of iron ore refining and iron furnaces.
When he was 17, James sent King off to Philadelphia for a three-year apprenticeship with Baldwin Locomotive Works. After completing the program, King supervised the construction of a steam locomotive for use by the Pennsylvania Canal Company.
In 1850, less than a year after King joined the company, the Kelley and McLanahan foundry burned down at a total loss. Undaunted, King and his father designed a bigger and better foundry building. The operation resumed in 1851, and production returned to expected levels.
McLanahan & Stone
When King left the company in 1852, James Craig hired Colonel William Stone to take over King's role as Foundry Foreman. Stone, who had previously been in charge of molding at the George R. McFarland Foundry in Hollidaysburg, would come to play a key role in the company.
King McLanahan came back to the company in 1855, using his expertise to design and sell blast furnaces and steam boilers for other manufacturers in the region. Building this machinery in Hollidaysburg, the foundry became the first successful coke furnace to make foundry metal in the United States.
James Craig had taken on various partners over the years, leading to name changes of the company, but in 1858, King McLanahan and Col. William Stone bought out the investors and renamed the foundry McLanahan & Stone. This partnership with the McLanahan and Stone families would span generations and prove a beneficial one.
A New Home
In the coming years, the scope of the business would change greatly. As the American Civil War got underway, production and revenue rose thanks to the increased demand for war materials. But, on March 31, 1863, disaster struck again. In those days, it was common practice to embed molds for large items into the foundry floor. On that March day, rising river water seeped into the building and found a mold filled with hot iron. An enormous explosion followed, leveling the entire foundry and shop areas adjacent to it.
King, James Craig, and Col. William Stone worked to survey the damage and find a future for the company. Instead of rebuilding, McLanahan & Stone continued operations in a small temporary foundry. In the meantime, they purchased the foundry, two brick buildings and all the equipment from the Portage Railroad Car and Locomotive Repair Shop in Gaysport.
By September 1863, the new facility was ready for use and operations were moved in. This property continues today as the current location of McLanahan Corporation's headquarters today.
Post-War and the Passing of the Torch
The Civil War came to an end in April 1865. Not long after the war, family patriarch and company founder James Craig passed away at the age of 71.
At this time, leadership passed to King and Col. William Stone. With the help of various investors taken on during this time, King and Stone installed retort coke ovens, which enabled the production of a purer form of iron while recovering impurities and byproducts. This cutting-edge technology allowed the company to enter new markets, including the casting and manufacture of forge hammers, iron heating and cooking stoves, plows, furnaces, and other products.
Having been discharged from the Navy in 1869, Samuel Calvin returned to the company in April 1876 as Shop Foreman. King continued to manage all operations, while Andrew Stone, son of Col. William Stone, worked as Foundry Foreman.
The Rise of Samuel Calvin
Samuel Calvin McLanahan, King's younger brother, had previously worked for the family company at the age of 14, managing the company's books. Some accounts credit him with organizing the first accounting system for the company. In 1860, he was hired by his brother as an apprentice.
Samuel Calvin left to join the Civil War as part of the United States Navy, which he would serve in until 1869. When he returned from service, he was made the Shop Foreman. King continued to run operations into the late nineteenth century along with Samuel Calvin. While King was still technically a part of the company, he was not at the foundry often because he held a variety of other business interests. During that time, partners Andrew T. Stone and William Bayley worked as Foundry Foreman and ran the office, respectively. As the years progressed, Samuel Calvin essentially took over (though King retained the position of President) and steered the company toward the production of heavy machinery, focusing primarily on the mining industry. With Samuel Calvin’s ascension, the company was stable and prosperous again following the recession of the late-nineteenth century.
As the company expanded, it shifted from on-order production to making machinery that others sought out. The company introduced the ore jig and created the first Log Washers. Under Samuel Calvin’s leadership, the company designed and sold a variety of other machines.
Another Fire Strikes the Shop
Fire destroyed the machine shop and its patterns for casting work. Fires were not uncommon for the company at the time, but this one seemed particularly devastating. Samuel Calvin's determination to get the company back in shape resulted in him leasing a temporary machine shop while he rebuilt the destroyed shop and installed new machinery. During this time, the company did not lose a single order.
After the fire, the company experienced relative stability in the 1880s.
The First of the Third Generation
By the end of the decade, another McLanahan had joined the company. John King McLanahan, Jr. started his time at the company as a machinist’s apprentice when he was 17 years old. He eventually served as the company Treasurer as well, but made his own fame as a local banker and philanthropist. He was not often part of the day-to-day operations of the family business but held positions on the company’s board of directors at times during the latter part of his life.
Innovation at McLanahan
In 1894, Samuel Calvin obtained a federal patent for the innovative Log Washer and began regular production of the steel units in Hollidaysburg. Popular from the start, the versatile machines found applications in iron ore mining, as well as phosphate and manganese ore industries throughout the region.
Also during this year, the Single Roll Crusher was created, a very successful machine for the company. This machine reduces large-size lumps in the feed to a medium-size product. McLanahan Corporation patented this revolutionary machine and marketed it aggressively as being particularly well-suited for wet and sticky material such as clay. Both the Single Roll Crusher and Log Washer are still produced at McLanahan today and have been successful products of the company for over 100 years.
Turn of the 20th Century
McLanahan Corporation prospered into the early twentieth century during the boom of the American Industrial Revolution. This period transitioned into World War I, which once again saw production rise thanks to the demand for war materials. During this time, the company’s manufacturing processes began converting from steam engines to motorized electrical power.
In 1918, yet another fire destroyed the shops and damaged many facilities. However, the fire wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because it gave the company an opportunity to update its machinery and convert to electrical power. Following WWI, McLanahan emerged as a nationally-recognized leader in heavy equipment fabrication and applications.
Late in the year, McLanahan experienced the loss of King, who served as President until the time of his death. King's son, Samuel Calvin, then took on the role of President.
Emergence of Ward
After holding a variety of positions elsewhere and leaving the Jones sand Laughlin Steel Company after a 19-year career, Ward McLanahan finally joined the family business. Prior to his start with the company, Ward studied at Yale and set the world record (since eclipsed) for pole vaulting, becoming the first person to achieve a vault of 12 feet. In 1904, Ward had placed fourth as a member of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team in St. Louis, Missouri, the first Olympic Games in the U.S.
Ward joined the company during the worst economic crisis in the U.S. — the Great Depression. He had been frequenting Hollidaysburg during the late 1920s because he had been checking in on his father, Samuel Calvin, whose health was declining. Samuel Calvin passed away in 1928, and for a few months after, Ward’s cousins had been keeping the company functioning. However, their disinterest in the company led Ward to permanently move back to Hollidaysburg and take over as General Manager in 1929. Ward was still very new to his leadership role in the company when the stock market crashed and the Great Depression ensued.
Despite the hardships many businesses faced, Ward managed to keep the company afloat during these perilous times by pledging his own personal financial resources to compensate for the company’s lack of ability to pay taxes. This kept the company operating and many people in the local community employed. Ward was able to minimize the company’s losses compared to other businesses at the time.
1930s and 1940s
As America began to ease out of the Depression and transition into World War II, McLanahan Corporation saw another opportunity to return to full deployment. Thanks to the war’s massive demand for heavy machinery, the company began to prosper again. McLanahan did its part for the national war effort by producing machine components and castings for the Army and the Navy. Much of the Pennsylvania heavy manufacturing economy maintained full production schedules during the war as the military built up the national inventory of ships, tanks, planes, munitions and an infinite array of support materials and products.
By the end of the Great Depression, another McLanahan had joined the company. Ward's son, James Craig McLanahan (better known as Craig), started working at the family business in 1941. Following the end of WWII, the company hired a string of employees who would eventual become incredibly important members of the decision-making team at McLanahan. In 1946, Robert (Bob) Brown, eventual Vice President and Production Manager, was hired as a Sales Engineer. Brown would go on to have a 41-year career with the company. Under direct supervision of Ronald Fye, Chief Engineer, he was assigned to create the general drawings for the Log Washer. Roy Rumbaugh, another Penn State graduate who was also supervised by Ronald Fye, was hired as an engineer in 1949. He would go on to be future President and Chairman of the Board.
A Period of Optimism
McLanahan Corporation saw the incurred debts from the Great Depression finally paid off, and with prosperity having returned, Ward wanted to share company benefits with employees and repair parts of the company that much needed improvement. As a result, McLanahan saw upgrades in production, updates to facilities, and the implementation of employee benefit plans, such as the Profit Sharing Plan and the Employee Profit Sharing Retirement Trust. This decade consisted of growth and success within the company.
The Fifth Generation
Craig was named President in 1961 as Ward became Chairman of the Board — essentially taking the first step toward phasing himself out of the company. Ward also renamed the company McLanahan Corporation.
It was the next year when another generation of McLanahans joined the company. Michael McLanahan had been doing odd jobs around the shop since he was 17 years old. Mike decided to further his education at Carleton College, achieving a degree in geology. During the summers, he would stay with his grandparents and work in the shop where he learned the ins and outs of the company. After graduating college in 1960, Mike decided to pursue graduate school. He spent six months in Spain working for a Spanish coal company, but his notes and rock samples did not make it back to the U.S., preventing him from finishing his master’s degree. It was then that Mike decided it was more important to leave school and enter the workforce full-time so that he could raise a family.
Mike moved back to Hollidaysburg with his wife Astride. In 1962, he interviewed with Roy Rumbaugh and was hired as a Sales Manager at McLanahan in July, making him the fifth generation of McLanahans to hold leadership within the company.
Under Craig, a new office building was completed. Other new facilities were also built and old ones were updated. The new facilities incorporated major expansions and modernizations of the other buildings on the plant property. Great attention was paid to enlarged and enhanced fabricating and assembly areas in order to produce the new and more technologically-advanced machinery the company offered.
In addition, the company witnessed its first venture overseas as McLanahan moved into the Australian market, marking the beginning of a long, yet successful journey for McLanahan. This was the first global business partnership that McLanahan would form, and the company eventually established its first global office in Australia.
An Unexpected Loss
The busy and hardworking Craig had suddenly begun to feel tired. Tired was a word that would never have been associated with Craig, as he had always been full of energy and worked very hard. He was diagnosed with a severe disease that eventually claimed his life in December 1966. His death was a shock to most, and this meant that there was no longer a company President.
After the loss of his son, Ward returned to the company to oversee day-to-day business, but at 83 years old, he knew this would only be a temporary solution. He set up a trio to run the operations – Roy Rumbaugh handled executive management, Bob Brown supervised production and plant operations, and Mike McLanahan became Sales Manager. This trio ran the company for almost two decades.
Losing a Company Hero
The legendary Ward McLanahan, who led the company through the greatest financial crisis in American history, passed away in 1974. He was Chairman of the Board at the time of his death. Roy Rumbaugh was voted as his replacement while simultaneously holding presidency of the company.
Upon the new leadership of the company, McLanahan Corporation remained steady through the rest of the decade, a time when the nation entered a lengthy recession that was followed by a period of unprecedented inflation. McLanahan led the way in new product development and new application as a result of a corporate culture that values employees as if they were family and extends the concept of family to include customers and clients. This corporate culture is still just as strong today and had resulted in the ongoing success of McLanahan.
A Period of Transition
A number of transitions of power within the company were witnessed during this time. In 1985, Mike McLanahan relinquished his role as Sales Manager and was made Chief Financial Officer. Jim Carrieri took over his role as Sales Manager.
The executive trio that had been in charge of the company’s decision-making processes for almost 20 years eventually had to come to an end. Bob Brown retired in 1986, and Roy Rumbaugh retired two years later. This left Mike McLanahan as the sole remaining decision-maker. He was then elevated to President as part of the transition process. Upon these changes, George Sidney was named Vice President/Director of Engineering. Sidney had joined the company as an engineer in 1973 and would later go on to become Chief Operating Officer and President.
The Sixth Generation Enters the Business
Mike’s son, Sean, joined the company’s sales division at age 23. Upon graduation from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Sean had initially considered a career in golf, but after playing in a few high-level amateur tournaments, he realized that golf did not allow much of a family life or a career. Mike informed Sean of an opening for a sales position at McLanahan during Christmastime in 1993. He jumped on the opportunity and interviewed with Jim Carrieri, the Sales Manager at the time. Sean was hired and began working in March 1994.
Diving into the World of Agriculture
Advancements in agriculture and McLanahan's venture into the agricultural industry began when Andrew Wedel, the current Director of International Business Development for Agriculture, joined the company. Wedel had been in contact with the company while he was a student at Michigan State University. He came across an advertisement for a McLanahan Fine Material Screw Washer in a trade publication and asked to test it to separate cow manure from bedding sand. It proved successful, and the recycled sand was sometimes even cleaner than new purchased sand. This sparked McLanahan Corporation to extend the company’s reach and move into a new, unanticipated market. Wedel was offered a position at McLanahan upon completion of his degree, and when he joined the company, he brought McLanahan quick and lasting success in the agricultural industry.
That same year, McLanahan also won the Alexander A. Notopoulos Award for Blair County’s Outstanding Industrial Firm presented by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.
Approaching the End of the Century
Cementing its commitment to its core values, McLanahan Corporation won the Governor’s Award for Safety Excellence in the state of Pennsylvania in 1997. This award is presented to organizations demonstrating distinction in safety and health of their personnel, the environment, assets and reputation that demonstrates and promotes superior corporate citizenship. McLanahan received one of eight Governor Safety Awards in Pennsylvania that year.
A New Division
The company made a significant acquisition by purchasing the HSS Sampling Division and moving it from Pittsburgh to Hollidaysburg. The new HSS Sampling Division, under Sean’s role as Division Manager, allowed McLanahan to expand its product offering in the coal industry. McLanahan made the acquisition of HSS Sampling to help the company offer a more complete processing system to customers. This acquisition meant that mineral producers could now come to McLanahan for systems that collect highly accurate samples. Under McLanahan, the line has been expanded to include other types of sampling crushers and sample processing solutions.
There were also more expansions to the Hollidaysburg location this year – The Board Room, Pattern Shop, parking lot, and office addition to the Engineering wing.
Turn of the Millenium
The purchase of the Equipment Division of Linatex North America in 2001 established McLanahan offices in Gallatin, Tennessee. Sean and his wife, Diane, had been traveling to Gallatin on and off for about two years when McLanahan acquired this office, known as LPT Group at the time. Diane had just joined the company that year as Executive Administrator.
This acquisition created the Aggregate Processing Division at McLanahan, which offers a wide range of aggregate equipment for washing, classifying, crushing and screening construction aggregates, such as limestone, granite, sand, gravel and other similar materials. The facility is set up to manufacture Cyclones and Separators as well as assemble McLanahan Slurry Pumps. The Sand-Manager® Sand Classifying Tank was developed the next year, allowing McLanahan to make advancements in the aggregate industry.
Across the Globe
McLanahan Corporation launched into a new era, opening its first international offices in both Newcastle and Brisbane, Australia. The establishment of this office came from the relationships that started in the 1960s. These offices house corporate, engineering and sales personnel and offer mineral and aggregate machine needs as well as bulk material sampling equipment for shipment and use in Australia and the Asia Pacific regions. McLanahan Australia provides direct service and support for its customers and dealers in the APAC region that the United States offices would otherwise not be able to provide.
A Huge Achievement
In its fifth and sixth generations of family leadership, McLanahan Corporation won The Family Business of the Year (Mid-Sized) Award by MassMutual in 2004.
Also during this year, Mike McLanahan stepped down as President and took on the role of Chairman of the Board, with George Sidney succeeding him as President. With this move, Sean McLanahan became the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
McLanahan celebrated its 175th anniversary and published a history book to commemorate it, and Mike McLanahan was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Business Excellence by the Chamber of Blair County.
The Blast and Paint facility was also completed this year as part of the company’s continued growth and expansion to maintain a high level of quality, safety and efficiency.
Additionally, McLanahan was awarded the 2010 World Agriculture Expo Top Ten New Product for the Agricultural Systems Division’s new 44 Super Magnum Sand Pump. The next year, McLanahan won yet another award. The Self-Cleaning Sand Lane won an AE50 Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. The design was deemed one of the year’s most innovative designs in engineering products or systems for the food and agriculture industries.
Continuing to Expand
McLanahan opened its first European office in Southeast England. This office allows McLanahan to provide direct service and support to customers in Europe. The European office provides its customers with custom engineered processing solutions in the minerals and aggregates processing industries.
The company also acquired Universal Engineering Corporation of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as well as Madden Boiler Works, Inc. (and its subsidiary Madden Steel Fabrication) from Hollidaysburg. McLanahan also purchased the assets of Eagle Iron Works from Des Moines, Iowa. This was a big move for the company as Eagle Iron Works had been a longtime competitor of McLanahan Corporation. Eagle Iron Works serves the aggregate industry as well as produces washing and classifying equipment. McLanahan continues the long history of product durability and quality for which Eagle Iron Works has become known while incorporating McLanahan's values, service and support.
The company also launched the first line of McLanahan Filter Presses, which are designed, manufactured and serviced directly from the U.S. They are one of the most widely used pieces of equipment in liquid-solid separation and are used in a wide variety of industries.
Two New Global Partnerships
McLanahan Corporation opened its first wholly-owned subsidiary in India — McLanahan India Private Limited (MIPL) in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. This new operation was set up to provide all McLanahan products to India, Pakistan, Nepal, Burma, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. From India, sales, engineering and customer service personnel are able to provide their market with custom engineered solutions to help producers be more efficient, more productive and more profitable. McLanahan has made a name in the Indian market with the sales of crushers and rotary equipment.
The company also announced the opening of a second new location during this year. After years of servicing Latin America as well as an increase in demand in this region, McLanahan decided to open a new office in Santiago, Chile. This office services all of South and Central America, along with the Caribbean and Mexico. There were already many installations throughout Latin America before the office opened, so moving into this region would allow McLanahan to provide direct support and service to its existing customers as well as expand within the market.
A New McLanahan Company
The year marked another acquisition for McLanahan — Anaconda Equipment of Northern Ireland. This company provides an extensive range of mobile tracked equipment, including scalping, screening, recycling and conveying equipment. Anaconda also has a sales and distribution center based in Massachusetts. This partnership has allowed McLanahan to grow its line of track equipment with a company that has many of the same values and business principles as McLanahan as well as a great string of employees and dealers. Anaconda conveyors continue to play a key part of McLanahan’s new line of modular wash systems.