Making it to scale -- once again -- is the mission of a group of dedicated former employees and retirees of the Heller Tool Company in Newcomerstown.
The Newcomerstown Historical Society was fortunate enough to be given a 20-feet wide by 15-feet long scale model replica of the former Heller Tool Company in Newcomerstown.
"We think the Newcomerstown Historical Society should have it," said Ray McFadden of the Newcomerstown Historical Society, after talking with Alan Bambeck of the Newcomerstown Community Improvement Corporation.
The CIC purchased the 10-box replica because of its connection with the Newcomerstown Industrial Park, at a cost of $500, after learning it was available to be purchased by the Tuscarawas County Heritage Committee, Bambeck said.
"They contacted us and asked if we'd be interested in donating it to the museum," Bambeck said. "Based on the committee's recommendation, we thought it was worth it and (we) donated it to be displayed."
However, the scale model needed work as it was in storage for many years.
"It was in a state of disrepair and needed cleaning and assembling," McFadden said. The boxes, themselves, had extensive termite damage.
The scale model represents the 31 departments of the former Heller Tool Company.
In order to put the model back together, the historical society enlisted the assistance of Heller retirees and former employees. A group of gentlemen including Rollin Welch, Paul Morrison, Jim Lehman, Fred Lehman, Kenny Parks, Charles Rine, Jack Ellis, Milford Addy, Raymond Heston, Harold Huff, Ron Criss and Dana McPeak, have been working every Tuesday morning for the past several months restoring the replica models back to what they can remember.
McFadden credits Morrison with laying out most of the displays.
Originally, the scale model, which was constructed back in the early 1960s, was built by the late Russell Marquand of Newcomerstown. The small pieces -- thousands in all -- were either purchased to show the various tools, materials, storage and workers in the factory, or they were built by hand by Marquand himself. It was Marquand's job at the factory to make the scale model.
It was used to show the 31 operations or departments it took to make a file, McFadden said. The model was actually on display in the factory for several decades near the office.
"We're going to make it the best representative we can," Morrison said. But, there are "some missing things."
Heller Brothers Tool Company started in Newcomerstown in 1917 after a fire at the former Rex File Company. The peak of employment came in 1943 when 1,476 workers were employed at the factory during World War II. In 1955, it became Heller Tool Company. In 1988, it was acquired by Greylock Management and Chuck Doulton. It then become Simonds Industries.
Looking back Huff, a retiree who spent 43 years at Hellers and two additional years consulting after he retired, said, "It's a shame it got destroyed."
"It was here for so many years. During the war, there were more than 1,100 people working there," said Morrison, who worked at Hellers for 34 years as a file cutter.
Longtime, dedicated employees were part of the core principles at Hellers. Morrison said Walter Martin worked at Hellers for 50 years. Heston said he worked at Hellers for 43 years, six months and 10 days to be exact.
Morrison can remember that a police officer had to direct traffic from 3:30 to 4 each afternoon at the corner of Heller Drive and State Street when employees would get off work.
"It took 20 minutes (in the 1950s and 1960s) to get out," Morrison said. "In their heyday, they made every kind of file you can imagine."
However, the two main types of files were either mill files (used for steel) or rasps (used for wood).
A special open house to honor employees of the former Heller Brothers Tool Company will be Saturday, Aug. 14 at the Olde Main Street Museum and Social Center in Newcomerstown. At that time, the scale model should be complete and be on display. A special brunch is planned at 10 a.m. with a program to begin at 11 a.m. All former employees are encouraged to attend.
"Heller Brothers (Tool Company) was the back bone of this town ... it was a very important factory," McFadden said.