Probably the best known and most publicized company in Bedford and Maple Heights during World War II was Jack & Heintz, Inc. The company was a major contributor to the war effort, designing and manufacturing airplane starters, automatic pilots, motors, and other aircraft parts.
Co-founders William S. Jack and Ralph M. Heintz formed Jack & Heintz, Ltd. in Palo Alto, California in 1940. In November of that year they moved their operations to Ohio, locating on Broadway Avenue on the line between Bedford and Maple Heights. The name was changed to Jack & Heintz, Inc. and production began in what was then an unfinished building.
Mr. Jack brought to the organization a background of industrial experience and manufacturing expertise. Mr. Heintz was an electrical and mechanical engineer. Together they formed an enterprise which excelled at producing engineered products to meet military needs.
Beginning with 56 employees in 1940, and adding 22 more by November, 1940, a total of 78 office and shop employees began the task of building an organization which soon gained local, and national attention. By 1944 employment had reached 8,700 people, with another 35,000 waiting for the opportunity to become an “associate” of Jahco, as the company came to be known. To help meet production requirements, a second plant was built on Solon Road in Bedford Township.
The end of the war in 1945 drastically reduced the need for military production. Business fell far from its wartime peak. The resulting slump brought about a merger in 1946 with Precision Products Corporation, and the name was changed to Jack & Heintz Precision Products.
In 1961 the Siegler Corporation acquired Jack & Heintz. In 1962 Siegler and Lear, Inc. merged, and Jack & Heintz became the Power Equipment Division of Lear Siegler, Inc. By 1984 the division was just one of 39 divisions in Lear Siegler.
Today, 50 years after the Jahco News reported that the conversion from wartime to peacetime production had been virtually completed (in March 1947), the property on Broadway on the line between Bedford and Maple Heights is an empty field. Where once there was a thriving industrial enterprise which operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a sign has been posted:
“AVAILABLE, 18 ACRES, RETAIL DEVELOPMENT”.
Written by R.W.Bell