Ball Band History Parallels
Story of Mishawaka Growth
"What Mishawaka Makes,
By MILTON BOCK
From a small woolen mill employing about 25 persons and established in, 1838, the Mishawaka Rubber and Woolen Manufacturing
company has grown to a gigantic
plant employing 5,000 and manufacturing about 12, different products
The history of the plant is the
history of Mishawaka. The small
woolen mill was established four
years after the town was founded.
In 1867 the mill was purchased by
Jacob Beiger and his son, Martin,
but not until 1896 did the company
begin to produce on a large scale.
Between '67 and '86, blankets and
felt boots were its only products.
Invention of the knit boot in 1886
by Martin Beiger and Adolphus
Eberhart marked the beginning of
large scale production. The manufacture of the new boots brought
with it the official trademark of the
How Trademark Began
These boots were made with a
black band around the top, while
the red ball was added to the band
later. In 1901 the red ball on the
black bard was registered as the
official trademark of the company.
In 1889, lumbermen's long socks
were added to the list of products
and Ball Band rubber shoes were
first manufactured in February,
1898. Light rubbers were added in
1916, leather work shoes in 1917 and
canvas sport shoes in 1922.
Now the largest single source of
automobile mats in the world, the
company developed the improved
auto mat in 1933. After several
years of experiment, Mishawaka
cushions, a cellular rubber product
for upholstery, cushions, mattresses,
etc., was introduced in 1935.
The crude rubber is obtained from the sap of rubber trees in the
natural rubber forests of South
America, Asia and Africa, and the
cultivated rubber orchards of Cey
lon, Sumatra and the Malayan
Raincoats, the only United States
Rubber company product made
here, were first manufactured in
1933 by the local plant.
The demand for the company's
products caused production in
creases and created a need for
more working space. Since the
purchase of the old woolen mill in
1867 by Mr. Beiger and his son, the
company has made four additions.
The additions were made through
purchases of buildings in 1888 and
1898, but a $350,000 light rubber
plant was built in 1915 and '16. The
half million dollar warehouse was
built in 1922 and covers five acres
of floor space.. The total floor space
of the company covers about 43
"Ball Band" products are sold by
about 200 salesmen to more than
60,000 retailers and jobbers in export trade. . About 10,000,000 persons
wear some product of the company.