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Henry Vogt Machine Company


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Henry Vogt was my great uncle. My dad, C. W. Vogt (1891-1973), was a major inventor and I am researching his career. He worked for the HVMC in th early 1920's.

To read two blogs I've posted on my dad which reference that company:

http://www.talkfesto...ly-mystery.html one year ago and this recently (timely for Veterans Day):


ptree and anybody else who was familiar with the Henry vogt Machine company, I am keenly interested to discuss the company.

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I worked at the Henry Vogt Machine co from 1981 until my division, the Valve and Fitting Div was sold in 1995, and then worked for the valve and fitting division as it went thru several owners until the new factory in Jeffersonville Indiana was bought and shut down in 2002.
I worked in every building shown in the photo's above, and much of that equipment still was in use. I scrapped the riviter in about 1996,
The motor operated valve shown is very similar to the motor operated valves we made right up to 2002. The big 25,000# Erie drop hammer was scrapped out in about 1994.
I miss the folks I worked with, a great crew.

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After reading the blogs, I discovered that I also worked for 3 years in the same building Votator was located at 28th and Broadway. Tube Turns, owned i believe by Girdler had Votator in the part of the building closest to Broadway st. Spent 3 years working for what is now Sypris Technologies, an upset forge shop making mostly Axles.
Mr. Henry Vogt Hueser sr, hired me, and was a great friend and mentor to me. When I once asked about the closed down Vogt Brothers building I had seen well north of the HVM, he remarked something to the effect that was the blacksheep of the family had been poorly run and failed.
Seems the bad blood lasted a century.
HVM traded engineering and management quite a bit with tube turns over the many years, anoth mentor of mine was Tom Grawmeyer, and he had work for Votator and Tube turns before becomeing the superintendent of manufacturing at VOGT.

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Thanks for the interesting photos and feedback!

There was bad blood in the family between the original Vogts and the Heuser who married into the family. My dad, at least, suspected his dastardly uncle-in-law, pharmacist Gus Heuser, of poisoning Henry Vogt's son Albert, then marrying his sister, then kicking out Adam and Clarence from the company to increase his salary.

I'm curious about how workers viewed Henry Vogt, the founder of the company. What image did he have? Any interesting lore about him?

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Henry Vogt himself was gone from the scene before any one I worked with started there. Mr GA as the everyone reffered to G.A Heuser was known as a good manager, fair but strict.MR GA was Henry Heusers sr's Dad
One guy told the story of a draftsman who worked at the board in front of his, and that fellow napped on the job pretty regular. Mr GA walked in one day and saw the guy asleep. The guy behind him asked " Do want me to wake him up?" and Mr GA replied " No, he has a job as long as he is asleep"My working career started in 1981 at HVM and Mr Henry as we reffered to Henry Vogt Heuser Sr hired me. He was an astute manager, often saw talents in people that others did not and fostered those talents. He was always a gentleman, treated everyone there in a gentlemenly way. He knew the names of the wives and children of everyone there! He would ask men working in the shops about the children, by name and that foster loyalty. He also had some interesting policies.
At VOGT anyone working there could buy anything VOGT could for the same wholesale price. All of our venders either would sell direct, or a dummy PO for a cash willcal was placed, a great benefit to folks building homes and the like.
We could buy any scrap at the company for $0.06/#, $0.32/# for stainless. Even whole machines that were to be scrapped. Scrap wood was free.

If someone had a son that wanted to drop out of highschool, they went to Mr. Henry and the boy was hired, and usually was placed in the hottest, dirtiest nastiest job available. After a week or so Mr Henry would call the young man up front to the lunch room for lunch before anyone else was due to eat. He would ask the young man how he liked his job and then ask him if he knew what it took to eat up front and work in a nicer job and when the young fellow would ask what he would be told education! he would then usually be sent back to highschool, and if he graduated he would often be given a scholarship for technical or college. Talk about building loyalty!

Speaking about the lunch room, In 1981 the lunch room fed everyone not in the Union. it was a take it or leave it plate lunch. it cost $1.00 per week! The women ate for $0.65/week! These were lunches like roast beef and mashed potatos and gravey. There were a few lesser lunchs like a hamburger or a chili dog but a super bennie.

At VOGT when I started no machine was bought until cash was in hand to pay for it. We had a tool committee and when you had a machine or process improvement to propose that cost capital you went to the committee and you had to sell them(Mr Henry) on the value. Mr Henry remembered every machine in that plant, remembered what had been paid for it when last overhauled and when last moved etc! Mr Henry once told me that when he had a hard decision to make he went out to the boiler shops and visited the worlds biggest riveter, which he had been involved in. Seems the riveter was installed and then VOGT switched to welding the drums, so it sat there unused. The first photo's showing the tall machine in the book above are of that riveter. One of the 50 year veterans in the Engineering dept often said when we were walking back for the committee, "Mr Henry said, and we all agreed"

Being a blacksmith at heart and having grown up poor, I was a use it up, make it do, remake it into something usuable kind of guy and Mr. Henry loved that. He hated throwing anything away if some value was to be had. We supplied every technical highschool program in the area with scrap plate for their welding courses, the totes would be weighed, sent out used for welding practice and returned for us to scrap. Oddly they weighed more when they came back from all the weld metal, so it was a win win for everybody:)

One of the Exec's, Dan Schelgel lived in Breakinridge county and favored their local tech highschool and so they also got scrap machines to use,
For many years I gave the technical and sales tours of the shops, and every year right before graduation the entire machinist class would come to VOGT for a field trip. I toured them through the shops, and then they were taken to a conference room and handed applications to fill out:)

Mr Henry went to Purdue engineering, but adopted University of Louisville Speed school of engineering. So I had engineering co-ops in my R&D Labs sometimes 3 and mostly from Speed school. Mr Henry took on getting a modern and new engineering lab built as the speed school's lab was pretty shabby then. When he retired as Chairman of the board he dropped way back in hours at VOGT to only 40 or so, and took on the New building as a personel crusade. He strong armed all the other industrialists, and got it done and that is a fine lab fully equipped. They got the first TUbE ICE machine ever built as a test bed as well.

I was blessed to get the job at VOGT as I was a fresh from school Mechanical Engineering Technology grad, and they never had one before. The Chief Engineer of the Valve and Fitting Division, Mr Perry wanted an engineering test lab, to leave as his legacy. He was due to retire in a few months and so interviewed me. Then he sold the idea to Mr Henry and I was asked back for another interview. What an interview! Every manager and chief engineer and superintendent tag team interviewed me! After a couple of hours An older gentleman came in sat down and everyone else shut up. He introduced himself as Henry Heuser and began to ask questions. More like talking to an old friend than an interview, After a while he bagan to say "When you come work for me I have some projects I want to work on in my retirement and I think you will have fun with them". I noticed a subtle change in the demenor of the others, I was Hired:)
After it was over the Cheif engineer told me he would write an offer letter that afternoon(Friday) and get it typed and sent out on Monday. Well a week came and went, and then another week. No letter. I figured they had changed their mind, and then I got a call at work in the R&D Lab at Westinghouse Airbrake fluid power division in Lexington KY. It was Mr Henry, and an instant thought flashed through my mind, "Mr Perry died, and there went my Job". Mr Henry says, I am sorry to report that Mr Perry died that Friday night. I thought OK now for the second part, and he said we have just now found the offer letter, are you still interested? I accepted and spent the next 17 years learning everything I could.

To show how they grew people, I was told, In the first moonth here take at least a couple of hours a day, and wander around and learn all you can. I sort of did that for 17 years:). In most corporations, a beginner with an associate degree would have been a tester, my first title for maybe 20 years. I learned and took on responsibility, and they allowed me all the new responsibility I wanted:) Soon I was a Test and Developement engineer, and then a Test and Developement and special project engineer, then a Special projects Manager. I also ended up with the Powerhouse for 18 months in there. Most companies felt paper on the wall was required, but Mr Henry often stated that 2-3 years working in industry was work a year of college. And he followed through on that.
I was blessed to work at a company that allowed me to work and learn in every division, learning all the processes. HVM had a Heavy Equipment division that made Boilers, the TUBE ICE Division that made ice making equipment, a Food Equipment divsion, the Forge and Die division and Valve and Fitting Division. About 1700 employees when I started.
If you can think of an industrial metal working process they had it( And several you did not know existed) As a self proclaimed Techno-freak I was really a kid in the world's best playground. And I got paid to go there 5 days a week:)

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Thanks for the stories Ptree, really enjoyed that read.

Makes me want to learn more about my great grandfather. My Grandparents were in my shop about six years ago and my grandmother says "Jamie, I don't know where you get this from." Then my grandpa goes "My father was a hammer man for twenty years at Ladish". "Whaaaat ?" says me. I did a little poking around at the history (axle forger to the auto industry) but that's about it.

Again, great stuff.

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Here is a link to photos of the now empty 7 story machine shop. It was about a city block footprint. Note the wood block floors. In some shots you can see wood planks in the roof metal. Thiose were used when the floor started to fail to keep the concrete from falling on those below until the concrete could be broken out and repoured. Of course this also required moving the machines, and since we could only have a certian weight in any one cell, the moving of many of the bigger machines was " Move it like an Egyptian" Jack it up, place long tubes under the machine and pinch bars and winches to move as much as 82,000#.
The second row down second from the left is the 7th flor, and you can see a skylight. Also in the far distance is the enclosure around my old hot testing and steam lab:)
This building went up to 3 floors in 1928 with 4 more in 1932.


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  • 10 months later...

I ran across this topic while looking for something else. I started at Henry Vogt in the mid 80's and even though I work for a different company, I have been parking in the same place as they say for going on 30 yrs. The company I work for bought what was once the Forge & Die Division of HVMC. We are still making forgings today, some of the original valve bodies that we forged back in the day. The hammers and blast furnaces are gone now, replaced by mechanical presses and electric induction billet heaters.

I really enjoyed reading all of the posts and I am fascinated in the history of the company that I have been working for or at for half of my life. I enjoy finding articles, artifacts, and especially pictures of the plant and workers.

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  • 4 months later...

Hey ptree my dad worked there from 1973 untill 1997 when he retired and went out on his own he went by the name ozzy and was in maint,carpenter I think. Good to here your story from Vogt. I always wanted to work there as a kid, the place was impressive to say the least. The rivit gun and the heat treat oven were neat as a kid.

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  • 10 months later...

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