Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Vanished Manufacturers: Mutschler Brothers Company, Nappanee, Indiana

Below, from a 1956 brochure.  Cool idea to theme it as an outing in an Austin-Healey 100!

A sample of the 20 kitchen designs featured in the brochure:

The brothers Albert and Charles Mutschler started out working for the Nappanee Furniture Company around 1891, which they purchased in 1902.  Initially awkardly named the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Company, Inc.  In 1913, the partnership was amicably dissolved the Mutschler Brothers went their own way.  The company pioneered the use of porcelain-enamel on surfaces and "Porta-Bilt" cabinets which customers could install and also remove and take with them if they moved.  After World War II, Mutschler Kitchens were marketed exclusively through specialty retailers. The rise of steel kitchen cabinets in the 1950's began to eat into their market, which was increasingly dominated by the steel companies in Youngstown, Ohio.  In the 1960's, Mutschler responded by hiring furniture designer Paul McCobb who worked with aluminum extrusions, although this "Eurostyle" designs proved ahead of their time. The firm remained in the family until it was sold in 1969 to American Standard, then was absorbed into Triangle Pacific in 1974.  The Nappanee plant stopped making cabinets in 1987, but continued to produce door and drawer fronts until 1993.  Then it was all over.

As an interesting sidebar, the brochure features the following:

This association was founded by Elwood E. Rice (1879-1958) "to immortalize the character and the achievements of great men who have built and are building the prestige of our country, as an inspiration and incentive to present and future generations." Judging from the 1914 ad below, it attracted some impressive organizations to its ranks.  Rice's tombstone in Ohio is engraved with the four symbols in the crest above.  Apparently, somewhere along the way, his emphases on strength, honour, quality and service fell out of favour with the corporate world.

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