US Molded Shapes

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US Molded Shapes, Inc.

640 Market St. S.W.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

US Molded Shapes, Inc. was a major supplier of cold-molded mahogany plywood hulls. Many manufacturers such as Delta, Milocraft and Yellow Jacket used these hulls to build completed boats. Hulls were also available in kit form for home assembly. The company was a subsidiary of The Wagemaker Company, also of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Information from Decisions and Orders of the National Labor Relations Board, Vol. 141, 1963

The Algoma Plywood Company of Algoma, Wisconsin (a subsidiary of US Plywood Corp.), produced molded plywood boat hulls and had patented the technique through its Molded Shapes Department. This operation was sold in October 1949 to the Wagemaker Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Andrew Kolarik, a US Plywood employee, was loaned to Wagemaker to help establish production by Wagemaker because he helped develop the original process and was very experienced in boat design and construction. Shortly afterward he was hired by the Wagemaker Company as plant superintendent and boat designer of the new subsidiary, United States Molded Shapes, Inc., formed to incorporate the division.

After a fire in April 1960 which destroyed much equipment and production at the Grands Rapids plant, operations of US Molded Shapes were moved to Cadillac, Michigan to occupy a former B.F. Goodrich Rubber Company plant at 201 Haynes St. along with Wagemaker's Cadillac Marine and Boat Company operations which were moved from a Seventh St. location. US Molded Shapes, Inc. was combined into the Cadillac operation as the Molded Shapes Department.

Before the fire, Ray O. Wagemaker sold his financial stake in the Wagemaker Company in Februrary 1960 to Schott Enterprises which formed the new entity, Wagemaker-Schott Enterprises. Walter E. Schott Jr. and Charles J. Schott also controlled Curtis Manufacturing, owner of Lyman Boat Works of Sandusky, Ohio. Harrison O. Ash, a minor partner, bought out the Schotts' share in June 1961, forming the Ash-Craft Corporation. Ash's plan was to close the Cadillac operation and move production to West Virginia. Operations were shut down sometime around August 1961 and wood-working machinery and the plywood molding machinery were to be sold at auction October 10, 1961 by Frank Stalling who was assigned to liquidate these assets. Andrew Kolarik, who had moved with the operation to Cadillac, found Frank J. Zale and had him look over the equipment two days before the auction. He bought the equipment after no other acceptable bids were received and served as absentee owner, making only two visits after operations resumed under Kolarik as Molded Shapes in the plant under lease from Ash-Craft. Zale informed Kolarik he was in financial trouble in January 1962; Kolarik worked through the Cadillac Chamber of Commerce to locate Kenneth A. Zick who toured the plant on Jan. 10, 1962 and purchased the operation from Zale effective in February 1962. Problems remained: Ray Wagemaker retained the patents to the molded plywood boat construction; the lease from Ash-Craft for the space in the former B.F. Goodrich plant was scheduled to end October 30, 1962 and Ash-Craft would not extend the lease.

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US Molded Shapes Boats in Use

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