In 1876, banker Joseph Jeffrey, inventor Francis Lechner, and several others formed a partnership to develop a machine to mine underground coal. At that time miners had only picks and shovels, and extracting coal was a very slow, very labor-intensive process. After several years, the partners succeeded in producing the world’s first coal mining machines. The new machines in turn created a demand for electric mine locomotives and conveyors to move the coal, plus crushers and other devices to process it. In 1887 Mr. Jeffrey bought out the other partners and formed The Jeffrey Manufacturing Company. The Company prospered. By the turn of the century, it was a recognized leader in its industry and an important factor in the Columbus economy. It was also becoming known for its progressive employee relations. In 1889 the Company opened one of the earliest on-site infirmaries, and in 1905 it established a cooperative store, offering employees quality goods at fair prices. In 1912 it established an employee cafeteria, and in the same year the Jeffrey Building & Loan Association was formed to assist employees in buying their own homes.
In 1929 the Company acquired Galion Iron Works in Galion, Ohio, a maker of road rollers and other road-building machines. This acquisition turned out to be fortunate, because during the Great Depression demand for coal-mining machinery declined sharply, while demand for machines to build roads remained strong. Eventually sales of Galion machines would grow to be several times the sales of Jeffrey mining machines.
In the early 1970s, the Jeffrey family decided it would be in its best interest to diversify its investment. At that same time Dresser Industries in Dallas, Texas, was interested in diversifying its operations (which heretofore had been focused in the oil industry) by acquiring a maker of coal mining machinery. In 1974 Dresser purchased Jeffrey’s operating assets for cash. The Jeffrey Company invested that cash in a well-diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, and has been managing that portfolio ever since.
Effective September 1, 2011 The Jeffrey Company operations have been under the management of Katahdin Asset Management LLC.
Download Tad Jeffrey’s full history of the company. (PDF)