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History of Kelley Springfield

Kelley Springfield imageThe Kelly-Springfield Tire Company was founded in Springfield, Ohio by Edwin Kelly and Arthur Grant in 1894.

Edwin Kelly originally called the company The Rubber Tire Wheel Company because it made rubber carriage wheels. Arthur Grant was issued US patent 554675 for his solid rubber tire in a rim channel. The tire was held on the wheel by two longitudinal wires embedded in the rubber and forming a circle of smaller circumference than the tire. The tire was an instant success because the rubber stayed on the wheel and the compound was of good quality.

The company was sold to the McMillin group in 1899 for $1,200,000. Arthur Grant received $166,000 in stock and $33,000 in cash for his share of the company. The McMillion group renamed the new company Consolidated Rubber Tire Company and it continued under that name until 1914. The name Kelly-Springfield Tire Company was given to the New York sales subsidiary in 1911. Consolidated's name was changed in 1914. "The" was added to the front of the name in 1932 and it became The Kelly-Springfield Tire Company.

Manufacturing was done at a plant in Akron, Ohio and another plant was bought in Wooster, Ohio in 1915 and used until 1921. The growth of the company continued until the president, Van Cartwell decided to build a new plant in Cumberland, Maryland. An agreement was signed on November 4, 1916. The plans called for the city of Cumberland to provide a free site and $750,000 for the plant. The city was also to make improvements for roads, water and sewerage lines and other essential construction. The plant site comprised 81 acres (33 hectares). The plant was to employ over 3,000 people with a production capacity of five times the current production capacity of the company. The first tire was built on April 2, 1921.

The Kelly Springfield Tire Company was sold in 1935 to The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and Edmund S. Burke became president. He served as president from 1935 until 1959. The company operated as a wholly owned subdivision. The company continued to grow until 1962 when it added a new plant in Tyler, Texas. Another plant was built in 1963 at Freeport, Illinois and the third plant in 1969 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Just 66 years after it made its first tire the Cumberland plant was closed in 1987. In that same year the Lee Tire & Rubber Company came under the control of Kelly-Springfield. In November 1987 the corporate offices were moved to a new facility on Willowbrook Road in Cumberland. The original plant site was returned to the city.

In 1994 The Kelly-Springfield Tire Company celebrated 100 years. At that time it was the oldest tire company in the United States.

In the 1990s, Kelly-Springfield was absorbed by parent company Goodyear and moved its corporate headquarters to Akron, Ohio.

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