Mercury Corporation History
Since 1920, Mercury Aircraft Inc. has become a leader in the Contract Manufacturing world. Whether it's the fabrication of a simple metal cabinet, or a complex, highly engineered business product requiring assembly of plastic, metal, and electronic components, we do it all. In many cases, we do it all in house or from one of our over 1500 suppliers.
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In 1921, five local men purchased a wood barrel factory just south of the present D.W. Putnam Wine Company, and named it the Aerial Service Corporation. Two of these men, Henry Kleckler, the President and William Chadeayne, Vice President, were formerly with the Curtiss Company, founded by Glenn Hammond Curtiss - a pioneer of aviation. The new enterprise started in a building of approximately 8,000 square feet of floor space. The purpose of this Corporation was to sell surplus World War I JN-4 (Jenny) airplane parts to the early pilots who were barn-storming the country at the that time. Soon the parts were used up and it became necessary to turn to other fields. Early radios, two dirigibles and one complete airplane had been built by 1924, when a night airmail airplane contract from the Post Office Department was received. It immediately became necessary to expand the engineering and production departments and it was at this time that Joseph F. Meade, Sr. and Harvey Mummert joined the Company.
Soon after the Post Office Department contract was completed, a number of wood type aircraft were produced bearing the trademark "Mercury". Among other projects worked on was the outfitting of the Chamberlin, New York to Berlin Flight and Byrd's Arctic Expedition and, in 1928, the first single wing all metal "Mercury Chic", a two place training airplane came off the assembly line. About this time, the original five owners sold the company to a Chicago organization headed by J.W. Wentworth and R.W. Schroder. It is of interest to note that Mr. Schroder, an early pilot, at one time held the world's altitude record of 32,000 feet.
Early in 1929, the name of the Corporation was changed from Aerial Service Corporation to Mercury Aircraft, Inc. The adverse business conditions of the early 1930's resulted in the sale of the Company by Wentworth and Schroder to J.F. Meade Sr. and H.C. Mummert in 1931.
From 1931 to 1937, the Company did mostly development contracts for the U.S. Air Force. Some of the projects included wind tunnel models, airport equipment, dirigible cars, sub-cloud cars, two racing airplanes, maps, bombing trainers, oil separators and wheel skis. In 1939, the Company suffered a great loss in the death of its very capable Vice-President and Chief Engineer, H.C. Mummert.
From 1938 through 1940, saw the beginning of the P-40 tail assembly and gasoline tank production. The purchase of Plant 2 on Grape Street marked the beginning of an expansion program which went on throughout World War II. Plant I was built around and over the old factory and, when completed, the old buildings were torn out without loss of a single day's production of the much needed aircraft assemblies.
Complete tail assemblies, fuel and oil tanks for the P-40 Fighter, A-25 and SB2C Dive Bombers, wing spars, wing tanks and pedal assemblies for C-46 Cargo Aircraft were produced during 1940 to 1945. Employment reached an all-time high.
From 1946 to 1949, a complete transition from aircraft to commercial items took place. A varied line of products such as school buses, telephone booths, truck bodies, and barbecue grills were produced. New plants were erected to accommodate the changes although the general employment plummeted.
1950 again brought aircraft into the plant with Grumman contracts for the AFW2S. Perhaps the greatest loss to the Company came in November of that year with the passing of J.F. Meade, Sr. He was succeeded by his son, Joseph F. Meade, Jr., who became president and continues in that capacity.
1951 through 1956 saw increased activity in the aircraft section with the S2F following the AF contracts and such items as Teletype bases, Axio flow compressor parts, and a great many new items for the business machine field. Both employment and the plant grew steadily.
1957 marked the first time the Company's expansion was carried on outside of the Hammondsport area with the setting up and equipping of a subsidiary plant, Mercury Minnesota, located in Faribault, Minnesota. The new facility lived up to all expectations and continues to do so.
1958 through 1960 saw continuing aircraft programs such as the S2F-3 tail assemblies, F9F-9 flaps and tail assemblies, F11F pylons, also industrial storage racks, shipping containers, and industrial heating panels. There was a great increase of activity in the business machine field with the addition of machines for Eastman Kodak, Commercial Controls, Remington Rand, Teletype, General Mills, Minnesota Mining and International Business Machines. During that period, both sites continued building and expanding to accommodate the new business.
The next few years saw more expansion with sales of metal parts and assemblies for the business machine industry. Atlas Metal Industries of Miami, Florida, was acquired in 1968 to better service the southern markets.
This product line continued to expand and diversify with the addition of many items from stainless steel kitchen equipment to film processing equipment. The aircraft subcontract program continued on a reduced scale.
New products such as stainless steel kitchen equipment, television components, telephone switch equipment, and honeycomb assemblies, were added to the enduring copier and computer parts business. The aircraft subcontract program continued, primarily for Grumman Aerospace; but on a much reduced scale compared to the middle 1950's. Employment grew again and the future looked promising.
The building of June Bug II, a replica of Glenn Curtiss' 1908 machine for the Curtiss Museum's Bicentennial celebration in 1976, marked the first complete aircraft produced in Hammondsport since 1936 - a span of almost four decades.
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The company continued to manufacture computer frames, sheet metal covers, steel and aluminum chassis and sheet metal components. The highest volume product produced at Mercury was the base chassis for IBM's personal computer line. The company produced approximately 350,000 during 1985, which was the equivalent of over 1,400 per day.
The advantage of automated equipment and computers began to make its way inside the walls which kept Mercury ahead of the competition.
The company again added on in 1985 to make room to manufacture large computer main frames.
At this time, the company was now able to fabricate, paint, and completely assemble products for customers. Mercury also added the capability to electronically test the product and deliver it to our customer's dock via our own fleet of trucks.
The late 1980's brought many changes. In 1987, Mr. Joseph F. Meade, Jr. retired and his son Joseph "Bud" Meade, III became president making him the third generation at the helm. Other members of the management team changed at this time and Mercury was once again poised for the future.
In 1990 the company converted its quality system utilizing the Total Quality Management Method of operation. This continues to be the base of our quality system today.
In the early 1990's, Mercury began working directly with customers on the development of future products, one of our core processes today. Computer programs and applications were also written to help automate manual procedures such as accounting, sales entry, and many other processes.
Despite, the changes, work slowed with the economy and Mercury was forced to go on a four day work week rather than lay off employees. Work continued to slow into 1994 until Mercury added several new customers and was awarded multiple programs.
1n 1995, Mercury purchased the former Taylor Wine Company buildings - today known as our headquarters: "Mercury Central". Frame and PC manufacturing were moved into these buildings to make room for more new business. In the short time between 1995 and 1996, employment grew over 50%.
To continue relationships with customers and foster new ones, Mercury began talks with customers and international competitors. High Speed, a Scottish company, formed a new limited liability corporation with Mercury - called Airspeed, LLC.
Airspeed quickly took off and added engineers and plastic designers. Today Airspeed manages global procurement around the world.
Towards the end of the 1990's, Mercury purchased Plastic Injection Molding Equipment and developed a competency in molding and manufacturing plastic parts. An ERP system was also implemented to streamline the business. Mercury grew its logistics services to support worldwide customers in Taiwan, Ireland, Scotland, and Mexico. In 1999, Mercury set up manufacturing in Guadalajara to service customers moving to new lower-cost regions. At this time, Mercury also developed its strategic alliances and partnerships in the global marketplace.
The year 2000 was one of the company's most stressful years. The economy began to slide and companies cut back business fearing a depression. This continued through 2002 to 2003. In 2004, Mercury was left standing with much less competition, as many had fallen with the market. Sales picked up and new directions were sought.
Mercury has emerged just as strong as ever, and is poised for the future with targets and goals to be the best.
We welcome you to see our product lines and services, and even come visit us in person - you will see what a difference Mercury makes.
With over 1.5 million sq. ft. of manufacturing facilities in New York, subsidiaries in Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Mexico, Aliance partnerships in Europe and Asia, and a wide range of experience in high value product design and manufacturing, the Mercury Aircraft Corporation and partners can help bring your products to market faster and with greater cost efficiency that ever before.
Put our tradition for quality, dedication, and technical innovation to work for you and move ahead in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. Capacity and technology are only two of our strengths, creating an environment where Customer Satisfaction is our goal.