Akron, Ohio — If you geek out over cool old plastic parts, Ferriot Inc. is worth a visit.
The lobby display cases are packed with parts molded in the past seven decades, but they tell only a fraction of the story. Ferriot's full history could fill a museum.
Remember hobby horses on bouncing springs? Green army men? Early "Star Wars" toys? Ferriot molded — or made the tools for — all of them.
Ferriot also molded big television cabinets back when TVs were real pieces of furniture, not just oversized computer screens.
"Over the years, I think what's really kept the company in the mainstream and relevant is the fact that it's forced to reinvent itself every so often," Craig Ferriot said in a recent interview at the plant.
"We have continued to be innovative, and take the ideas of the past ownership and build on those, and take the original principles of our founding fathers, which was to develop relationships with customers, and how valuable that is," he said.
He's the president of Ferriot Inc., a family-owned injection molder in Akron. The company is 90 years old, but he's just the third generation of Ferriots in the business.
Craig Ferriot's grandfather was one of the founders in 1929. By 1934, then known as Ferriot Bros. Inc., the company had patented a process for using beryllium copper to produce castings of microscopic detail and dimension.
The company's toy industry roots started in rubber. "We did things like rubber figurines for Walt Disney. The original Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse toys for Walt Disney," Ferriot said.
By 1940, it was using the beryllium copper process to make tooling for plastic injection molders. Then the business was interrupted during World War II, when the company shifted to making gas masks and bullet casing molds for the government. After the war, the company jumped back into injection mold tooling.