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A Street Light Manufacturer That Shaped History

Original Union Metal Plant Union Metal has been one of America's leading street lighting manufacturers for over a century. We believe that our top-notch products, service, and delivery can meet your needs. While we have a wide range of products available for a variety of applications, we are also able to customize products to your specifications.

Landmark Dates in Union Metal's History

While we have over a century of experience as a leading street light manufacturer, there are a few key dates that stand out:


Christopher Columbus Barrick founded Union Metal after purchasing patents for a corrugated machine to produce columns from a local inventor who recognized the need for a new material for this application. Operating out of an old broom factory on the northeast side of Canton, OH, Union Metal started as a manufacturer of architecturally fluted steel porch columns.


The Union Metal Manufacturing Co.
Union Metal porch columns and pergolas graced architecture in residences and businesses throughout the country, but it was one unique sales call that launched a new product and redefined the company's future. The son of the founder, Donald C. Barrick made the sale in the summer of 1907. He tried to convince a Cleveland architect to use Union Metal porch columns in the rebuilding of a hotel damaged by fire. Not interested in porch columns, the architect wanted a couple of lights for the entrance of the hotel. Barrick returned to Canton with an order for something the company had never produced: lighting standards. This new product line consisted of cast iron bases and capitals with light-gauge, fluted, and tapered steel shafts. By the end of World War I, lighting standards were Union Metal's dominant product as it pioneered ornamental lighting standards supplying over 4400 cities and towns across the U.S. with their first electric lighting poles.


The Union Metal Manufacturing Co.The City of Nashville, Tennessee placed an order for 100 ornamental street lighting standards, providing Union Metal's largest order to that date.


Production of the first Union Metal product catalog was completed. A larger, more complete catalog devoted entirely to street lighting was printed in 1915, but Union Metal's 1924 catalog has become a classic. Today, the catalog still serves as one of the main resources for historical data in downtown renovations.


Union Metal added sign standards, traffic signal standards and bridge lighting standards to its product line. The company also began manufacturing gasoline filling stations – a product as timely in the 20’s as ornamental lighting standards were at the turn of the century. These prefabricated sheet metal stations were an important part of Union Metal's business until large refineries began building their own individually-styled stations.


E.W. Rimenschneider joins the company as a research and development engineer in 1926. He led the development of an entirely new pole product by designing machinery to roll steel into a new type of longer (up to 40 feet), stronger, one piece, continuous taped, cold-rolled tube of heavy gauge steel. The shafts were so overwhelmingly superior to the thinner, lock and seam standards for which Union Metal devised a new distinctive name of this principal product – a name that is still commonly used today: The Monotube.


The advantages of Monotubes received quick recognition in 1927. The new mandrel-formed tube making process was able to continue to manufacture fluted shafts, but much stronger and taller. Cities found it practical and economical to purchase 25 – 30 foot monotube poles capable of not only carrying street lighting luminaires which were beginning to require higher mounting heights, but also support trolley span wires, traffic signals and signs, as well as overhead distribution equipment. Today, our mandrel tube operation allows us to match the lighting poles with our Nostalgia Traffic Mast Arm poles, supporting arms in excess of 50 feet.


metropolitanThe Great Depression brought a slowdown in lighting projects, but one significant order is credited with keeping Union Metal alive through that decade when, in 1931, Evanston, Illinois contracted for 4800 ornamental lighting poles. Fifty years later, in 1981, replacement poles were installed using the identical, original patterns from Union Metal's Nostalgia Series, marking the resurgence of historic designs renovating America's main streets.

How Union Metal’s History Informs Our Future

Today, Union Metal Corporation continues to be not only a pioneer in street light manufacturing, but the industry leader in ornamental Nostalgia lighting and traffic poles combining our structural pole capabilities with our roots utilizing the thousands of hand-crafted patterns developed in the heyday of ornamental lighting.

Union Metal was also at the forefront in the design and manufacture of roadway lighting poles used when the first new highways and freeways were built across the country and is also an industry leader in the design of traffic control structures that developed and produced “The Monolever” traffic mast arm pole. We are continuing this tradition today as a leader in the design and manufacture of poles for all lighting, traffic control, mass transit, and telecommunications applications.

Contact us to find out how Union Metal can help you create a safe, convenient and enjoyable environment through our range of products, including:

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