Harry A. Shields

Pages 256-257-258 - Harry A. Shields, inventor and patentee of a most unique and valuable line of textile finishing machinery for knitted wear, has placed his inventions on the market through the medium of the Grand Rapids Textile Machinery Company, of which important industrial corporation he is the president and general manager. In 1909 he became associated with E. A. Clements and Leonard W. Feighner in the organization of the S C F Machinery Company, this name designating the product; "Shields’ Cloth Folding" machines, being the initial type of machine to be manufactured by this company, and in 1911 the business was incorporated under the present title of the Grand Rapids Textile Machinery Company with a capital stock of $30,000; Mr. Clements became the first president of the company. The factory was maintained in the G. R. Peters plant, on Grandville avenue, until 1917, and as the increase in the business made larger quarters imperative, the company, through the medium of Lloyd Alexander, acquired property of the Wamsey Farm Realty Company and on the same erected a building 80 by 120 feet in dimensions. In 1922 was erected the second unit of the plant, a building 60 by 120 feet, and by this time the company was manufacturing about twenty types of machines used by makers of underwear, sweaters, bathing suits and hosiery. The company is now developing new machinery to be used in the manufacture of artificial or fibre silk products, and the output of the now large and well equipped factory includes also the manufacturing of machines for the production of automobile cushions and textile trimmings. The products of the company now find sale in all sections of the United States, and a substantial export trade has been developed in Japan, France, Germany, Australia, England and South America. In 1915 Mr. Shields purchased the interests of Mr. Clements, whom he succeeded as president of the company, of which prime executive office he has since continued the incumbent, besides being general manager. All of the capital stock of the company is now held by its executive officers, Leonard W. Feighner, of Nashville, Michigan, who is the vice-president, and Frederick S. Robinson, the secretary and treasurer. In December, 1923, the capital stock was increased to $125,000, and commercial expediency later lead to its being placed at $150,000 – the basis of operations at the present time. In the early part of 1925 the company purchased the business of the Spotless Shrinker Company of Cleveland, Ohio, which with the greater number of the former employes, was removed to Grand Rapids. This concern has become a valuable subsidiary of the Grand Rapids Textile Machinery Company, and this progressive corporation now retains an average force of sixty employes. Prior to his becoming an inventor and manufacturer Mr. Shields had been employed in the Globe Knitting Works, Grand Rapids, and in this connection he became impressed with the need for a machine for folding and finishing cloth. In the kitchen of his home he gave his spare moments to experiment in the invention and development of such a machine, and the same, as perfected, became the basis of the large and important manufacturing concern of which he is now the executive head. He has received patents on forty-five of his valuable inventions of mechanical order. Mr. Shields was born at Nashville, Barry county, Michigan, January 3, 1882, and is a son of William E. and Lydia (Loomis) Shields, the former of whom was born in the state of New York and the latter at Vermontville, Eaton county, Michigan. William E. Shields was a young man when, in 1876, he came from Jamestown, New York, and established his residence at Nashville, Michigan. There he placed in operation a planing mill and a manufactory of interior finishings, besides which he patented and placed on the market one of the first windmills manufactured in the United States. He was a skilled mechanic and progressive business man and was one of the most honored and influential citizens of Nashville at the time of his death, February 17, 1922, his widow being still a resident of that place. The public schools of Nashville afforded Harry A. Shields his youthful education, and his mechanical talent was there developed through his association with his father’s manufacturing business. In 1903 he came to Grand Rapids and after working here for a time at the carpenters’ trade he took a position in the Globe Knitting Works, with which he continued to be connected until he engaged in manufacturing in an independent way, as already noted in this review. Mr. Shields married Miss Adah Hall, daughter of Frank Hall, of Ionia, and the one child of this union, Wendell, is, in 1925, a junior in the South High School of Grand Rapids. In the home of Mr. Shields is being reared, also, Imogene Bullock, a niece of Mrs. Shields.

Transcriber: Nancy Myer
Created: 21 April  2003
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/shieldsha.html