The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 19.


Parker Paint Company Has Been a Valparaiso Industry Many Years; In New Hands

For nearly fifty years the Parker Paint and Varnish Manufacturing Company has been manufacturing varnishes, paint dryers and japans, maintenance paints and finishes for industrial concerns and products, special products and mixing liquids for paint grinders and air drying and baking asphaltum base paints and varnishes, for which the Parker name has been so favorably known for near half a century.

Until in December, 1935, the business was owned by members of the Parker family, who had been associated with it for many years. The company at that time was sold to Ralph G. Bowman, of Los Angeles, Calif., and his brother, Frederick G. Bowman, of Chicago.

Ralph G. Bowman is general manager of the company, while Frederick Bowman, who is general manager of the Pure Oil Company Chicago, is only financially interested and not active in the management of the business.

The business was founded by the late Charles H. Parker, who established himself as a manufacturer of paints and varnishes in Chicago sixty-five years ago, in the year 1871. His partner at the time was Mayor Heath, of Chicago, who later became head of the Heath & Milligan Paint Manufacturing company. Merging in the early eighties, a new firm was formerly known as Carey, Ogden and Parker, which operated at that time the largest paint and varnish factory west of the Atlantic seaboard.

In 1888, Mr. Parker sold his interests in the Chicago property and moved to Valparaiso where for years he maintained a summer home and as a sideline, operated a fruit evaporating plant. This he turned into a paint and varnish factory which was destroyed by fire two years later. It was then that he bought the present site of the factory at the corner of Locust and Poplar streets and erected the first of several buildings which comprise the present establishment.

Associated with Mr. Parker as his partner, from the inception of the business in Valparaiso, was his eldest son, Mortimer, who died in 1914. Shortly thereafter Mr. Parker turned the business over to his sons Eugene and Charles H., Jr., who operated it until 1931 when Eugene Parker retired and moved to New England. Since that time until its sales in December, 1935, to the Bowman brothers, the business has been managed by C. H. Parker, Jr., who has been intimately and actively connected with the concern since 1906.

Among the firm's thousands of customers, scattered throughout the entire country and in many foreign countries as well, are some of the largest industrial concerns in the United States. Included among the more prominent are the Illinois Steel Company, American Locomotive, Pullman Company, Western Electric, Anaconda Copper Mining Company, Carnegie Steel, Commonwealth Edison, Continental Steel, Oliver Chilled Plow company, American Steel and Wire, Superheater Company, Northern Refrigerator Company, many large railroads, car builders, machinery, agricultural implement and automobile manufacturers.

Buildings and equipment of the Parker concern include two brick and four metal clad frame structures, a fire-proof concrete and ----low tile nine stack varnish melting building. A spur track from the Grand Trunk railway accommodates three cars, is also located on the property.

Ralph Bowman, general manager of the company, has had wide experience and background in the paint and varnish business and as an operating and sales executive. After completing his studies at DePauw university he attended George Washington university law school but never engaged in the practice of that profession. In 1911 he came associated with the Penslee Gaulbert company at that time the largest manufacturer of paints and varnishes in the south, with main offices and factories at Louisville, Ky.

Some years later, he joined the Pure Oil company, then large marketers of paints, varnishes and supplies for the manufacture of ---?--- products. Mr. Bowman was sent to the Cincinnati compounding terminal of the company and became assistant general manager of the central marketing division, which had jurisdiction over almost half of the company. He was directly responsible, among other assignments, for the paint and varnish makers supplies section of the business, as well as for the sale of the finished products.

The west coast then called and Mr. Bowman resigned from the Pure Oil company in 1924 to accept a position as assistant sales manager of the General Petroleum corporation, a $100,000,000 outfit, with general headquarters at Los Angeles, producing, refining and marketing petroleum products from Canada to Mexico in the states west of the Rockies. This concern was merged with the Standard Oil Company of New York, now the great Socony Vacuum Oil company, early in 1926 when Mr. Bowman was made the assistant general sales manager and later elevated to the board of directors of the West Coast company, which position as director he held until he resigned to go into business for himself -- to r-engage in the manufacture of paints and varnishes.

Since the Bowmans took over the management of the concern a number of improvements have been made to the factory buildings and equipment of the plant, enabling the firm to increase its output. Additional sales offices have been established at all corners of the country. Mrs. Mortimer F. Parker, who has been associated with the organization since 1922, is associated with the firm. All other employes of the Parker company were retained in the new setup. Frank Fabing, who was employed for a number of years with the Illinois Steel company in Gary, joined the firm as sales manager.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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