Filed Under Industry

Jack & Heintz Co.

Bill Jack and Ralph Heintz formed Jack & Heintz in 1940 in Palo Alto, California. They soon moved their company to the Cleveland area, building a small plant at 17600 Broadway Avenue in Maple Heights. The company made airplane parts, and it soon received a military contract to produce airplane starters. After their initial work orders were fulfilled on time and at a lower cost than other contractors, Jack and Heintz soon received more military contracts, including a significant one for the production of autopilot devices.

By 1944, Jack and Heintz employed over 8700 workers (including several thousand women) at their expanded Maple Heights location and several other new plants around the area. This number is staggering when one considers that at its inception in 1940 the company only employed about 50 people.

While its name may have been Jack & Heintz, it was Bill Jack who became the charismatic public face of the company. Before founding Jack & Heintz , Jack had been a machinist, then became a leader in the machinist's union, and eventually opened his own plant, making him a wealthy man.

Jack believed that a company should take good care of its employees -- or "associates," as he preferred to call them. Everyone -- even Jack himself -- was called by their first name, and the titles "sir" and "mister" were strictly forbidden. More significantly, workers at JAH-CO (as the company was popularly known) received free health care, paid sick leave, free meals, access to a sauna and massages, frequent cash bonuses, and two weeks of paid vacation at no-cost company resorts. Smoking on the job was permitted, as was the hanging up of pin-up girls. Workers even received complimentary donuts, coffee (in a personal mug embossed with their name!), and vitamins. The company had a music collection totaling nearly 5000 records, which it played from during working hours. In return, associates agreed to work 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week with only one day off a month. Despite these long hours, worker morale was high and absenteeism remained well below the national average. In terms of the speed and efficiency at which the company fulfilled its military contracts, the working conditions at the plant were deemed to be wildly successful. Eventually, the company's unique treatment of its employees received national publicity, and Jack savored the spotlight. Workers seemed to support Jack, as well -- literally singing his praises in the "JAH-CO Victory Song"

JAH-CO -- On to VIC-TO-RY!
Working ev'ry hour for our LI-BER-TY!
JAH-CO -- That means you and me!
Ev'ry one must fight for VIC-TO-RY!
"Bill" and "Ralph," You've stood by us,
We're all in back of YOU
Anything you care to ask,
We're waiting here to do.

When the war ended, however, the lucrative military contracts that allowed JAH-CO to take such good care of its workers came to an end as well. In 1946, the company merged with Precision Products. Both Jack and Heintz sold all their stock after the acquisition, making millions but giving up their voting control in the new company. While Precision Products vowed to make no changes to JAH-CO's unique personnel practices, little by little the new owners of Jack & Heintz scaled back Jack's way of doing things.

Video

Newsreel: Jack & Heintz, 1943 In this 20th Century Fox newsreel from 1943, management at Jack & Heintz Co. prepare for the transition to peace time production after World War II. The crowd cheers as the company leadership announces trust funds and employment guarantees for returning veterans. As men return to the factory floor, female workers are urged to leave the company workforce to serve as "housewives and mothers again."

Images

Christmas Turkeys, 1942 Bill Jack presents one of his "associates" with a Christmas turkey as others look on, holding turkeys of their own. Yearly Christmas bonuses were one of the many reasons why Jack and Heintz became a popular place to work during World War II. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Bill Jack and Workers, Jan. 1943 Bill Jack signs a document (most likely a military contract) as plant employees look on. Ralph Heintz (wearing a tie) is standing behind Jack. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Kids Tour Plant, Jun. 1953 Vincent Segulin shows his daughters, ages 6 and 9, how his universal tool grinder works during a special weekend tour for families at the Jack & Heintz Precision Products plant in 1953. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Workers' Vacation, Dec. 1942 The Acme News caption for this photograph reads: "Fort Lauderdale, Fla - After dinner on the beach workers of the Heintz Plant sing and swap stories. They have all been sent to Fort Lauderdale by William F. Jack, their boss in the Cleveland war plant, Jack and Heintz Company." Two weeks of all-expenses-paid vacation was one of the perks of working at Jack and Heintz during World War II. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Woman at Work, Dec. 1942 A woman works at Jack and Heintz Company. JAH-CO employed several thousand women in their plants during World War II. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Job Seekers, 1952 Men seeking employment camp out in front of a Jack and Heintz Precision Products plant in 1952. The two tall cylinders in front of the men are heaters. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
War Plant Award Celebration, Dec. 1942 A crowd of 10,000 celebrate the awarding of the Army-Navy Production (or "E") Award to Jack and Heintz Company on December 23, 1942. The military handed out these awards to over 4000 companies during World War II to encourage the fast and efficient production of war materials. Holding the pennant are (left to right) Ralph Heintz, Bill Jack, Brigadier General Arthur W. Vanaman, Colonel Alonzo M. Drake, and Russ Jack. In addition to the pennant for the plant, each employee received an "E" emblem to attach to their work uniforms. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
"Secret Powwow," 1942 On September 5th, 1942, Jack & Heintz Co. held a large event at Cleveland Public Hall. According to one newspaper account, sixteen private guards "sheltered the proceedings within from all taint of press of public," leading to the impression that the event involved some "undisclosed military secret." The program for the event reveals the dinner menu (wherein the dishes are given engineering-related names) and lyrics for group singalongs, including the national anthem and a JAHCO-themed original to the tune of "Beer Barrel Polka." Source: Broadview Heights Historical Society

Location

17600 Broadway Ave, Maple Heights, OH 44137 | Demolished

Metadata

Michael Rotman, “Jack & Heintz Co.,” Cleveland Historical, accessed January 21, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/153.