Clayton & Lambert Mfg. Co.
In Ypsilanti, Michigan, in the year 1882, three young and aggressive brothers named Lambert started a pioneering venture - the manufacturing and sale of gasoline burning blow torches. Mechanics found the intense portable heat of these torches useful and time saving in the soldering of pipes, etc. As word spread about these new handy devices and the demand for them grew, the business flourished.
In 1887, a patented firepot for melting lead was added to the torch line. Its inventor, a Mr. Clayton, was taken into the partnership. Growth continued and in the year 1891, Clayton and Lambert Mfg. Co. filed Articles of Association with the state of Michigan.
By 1899, demand for the Company's products had increased beyond its productive capacity. A larger manufacturing facility was needed. Detroit was becoming the center of manufacturing for that section of the country and offered many advantages. A site with railroad facilities was purchased and a suitable plant was built. At this time, this location was in the center of a growing automotive industry, with neighbors like Ford, GM and Cadillac.
The torch and firepot business continued to grow and prosper with distribution throughout United States and Canada.
In 1915 the Company established a metal stamping division for the manufacture of automotive parts. During the World War I, the Company produced powder time fuses, truck cabs and large quantities of torches and firepots for all US services.
After the war times were good and business was booming. The metal stamping plant was sold to Hudson Motor Car Company. Clayton & Lambert now headed by Charles F. Lambert moved in to a new factory in 1929.
During the depression years, Clayton & Lambert managed to keep its torch and firepot business intact and continued search for additional business. At the start of World War II, a shortage of brass made it necessary to make cartridge cases out of steel and Clayton & Lambert was awarded a Navy contract to produce these at their plant in Detroit and at a new plant in Ashland, Kentucky. After the war the Navy decided to keep the production facilities for future need and purchased the Detroit plant.
Clayton & Lambert now decided to move their headquarters to Louisville, Kentucky and purchased an existing company, Hoffman Gas and Electric Water Heater Co. Subsequently, the torch production was moved from Detroit to the new facilities in Louisville, KY. Another company, Lamneck Company of Middletown, Ohio was also acquired.
During the Korean War, Clayton & Lambert produced millions of steel cases for Army and Navy requirements. At the Government's request they also designed a special flat tank torch that could fit in a Government tool kit.
In 1956, Clayton & Lambert purchased a six acre site at Buckner, Kentucky and started to build a new factory which was ready in 1957. The production of blow torches and firepots was moved to this new factory in 1961.
The production of gasoline torches and firepots was discontinued in 1970 because they had almost become extinct due to the use of plastics.