History of Cleveland Hardware

Cleveland Hardware & Forging Company is one of only a few present-day Cleveland industrial concerns descended from the city’s once-numerous wagon and carriage-parts manufacturers. Begun as a small iron works and wagon hardware factory in the late 1870s, the firm was incorporated as the Cleveland Hardware Company in 1881 by its founder and then president, Leander McBride. In 1886 Cleveland Hardware adopted new rolled blank metal forming technology. They also developed an extensive line of rolled-steel wagon and carriage parts, and they were one of the only firms in the country to offer a complete line of sleigh hardware. By the turn of the century Cleveland Hardware employed 750 to 1,000 workers.


With the advent of the automobile, Cleveland Hardware now began the changeover to automotive parts and hardware. In 1906 a new plant was opened on 79th street near Bessemer, the location of the current-day plant. After Charles E. Adams took over the presidency in 1909, Cleveland Hardware became the beneficiary of some of Adams’ historic reforms within the manufacturing environment. These included such things as in-plant cafeterias, medical services on the premises, company stores, and profit sharing. In 1932 the Board of Directors changed the name to its current name of Cleveland Hardware & Forging Co. which went on to be an important contributor to the World War II effort.


The company went through different ownership between the 1950s and 1970s. The acquisition of two companies in the 1970s, Fox Valley Forge in Aurora, Illinois, and Green Bay Drop Forge in Green Bay, Wisconsin, strengthened Cleveland Hardware’s market position, with the current-day ownership acquiring the company in 1985. Today Cleveland Hardware continues some of the great traditions established throughout its long history. Adopting a culture of Lean Manufacturing, Cleveland Hardware continues to be a major producer and innovator of hardware for heavy commercial trucks, commercial and school buses, off-road vehicles, service vehicles, emergency vehicles, and private aircraft.