A Street Light Manufacturer That Shaped History
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.
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
. 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.
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
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 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.
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.
us to find out how Union Metal can help you create a safe, convenient
and enjoyable environment through our range of products, including:
more about Union Metal's Historical Archive