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Ash Craft Company, Marine Division
History by Andreas Jordahl Rhude
On April 15, 1960 Ray Wagemaker sold all his boat operations (Wagemaker, Cadillac, US Molded Shapes) to three men: Walter E. Schott, Jr.; Charles J. Schott; and Harrison O. Ash. The Schott's also owned Lyman Boat Works of Sandusky, Ohio through their Curtis Manufacturing business. Operations of Wagemaker Wolverine and U.S. Molded Shapes were shifted to Cadillac Marine & Boat Co. after a $250,000 fire hit the U.S. Molded Shapes plant about April 23, 1960, just days after the sale. The former B.F. Goodrich plant at Cadillac was secured for production space.
Harrison Ash gained complete control of Wagemaker, Cadillac, and U.S. Molded Shapes in April 1961. He changed the business names to Ash-Craft Company at that time.
U.S. Molded Shapes, Inc. at Cadillac, Michigan was on the auction block on Tuesday 10 October 10, 1961. The machinery and brand name and good will were purchased by Chicago businessmen Frank Zale and Jerry Fencl. Fencl was head of Delta Boat and Marine Sales of Oaklawn, a builder of wooden boats. They had been obtaining their hulls from the Cadillac operation. Fencl’s brother Milo operated MiloCraft Boats of Chicago, another builder of molded veneer boats.
Only a few months later, in January 1962, U.S. Molded Shapes was sold to Kenneth Zick of Charlotte, Michigan. Eighteen workers were on the payroll at the time.
U.S. Molded Shapes of Cadillac was advertising in the January 1962 issue of The Boating Industry. Ash-Craft, makers of Wolverine and Cadillac Boats, had a four page, full color brochure inserted in the magazine.
Ash was attempting to move all the boat production to Oak Hill, West Virginia under another one of his firm umbrellas, New-Kanawha Industrial Corp. in 1961. On November 2, 1962 all the firms owned by Ash filed for bankruptcy.
It cannot determine if boats were ever built in West Virginia. It is not know when boats were no longer being built by Cadillac in Michigan.