Wednesday, November 05, 2008


EDITOR'S NOTE: in a fit of bad management, this post went live BUT incomplete when I hit the PUBLISH POST button istead of the SAVE NOW button on Thurs. 10/30. My apologies for requesting that those who commented read it again to find out what I wanted to talk about...

There is nothing at all nice about a factory closing. There is nothing more disheartening to any worker or any community than to find out that a factory is closing and the jobs are going away and the building is going to be standing empty for who KNOWS how long.

This is ESPECIALLY true for those of us living and working in the Rust Belt, though I suppose this feeling would apply outside of manufacturing as well: no doubt ranchers and coal miners felt sorrowful as their jobs slowly vanished (though it's more sudden when a factory that employs 100's of people suddenly closes it's doors).

Sometimes, like in the case of Rolling Rock and some other breweries, the FACTORY stays there but the OWNERSHIP leaves and even THAT can be disheartening, but far WORSE is when a long-time corporation, like Pennzoil, up and pulls out of a small town (like Oil City) and leaves a vast hole where it once stood, both in the case of the building and the local economics. Trust me, I LIVED in Oil City and the place was in economic shambles years after Pennzoil pulled out of there and was never really able to recover. It breaks my heart still to think of the 100+ year old houses that were literally falling apart because the families they were left to simply couldn't keep them up. Hell, even the bloo collar families were having trouble keeping up after the biz left.

A little closer to home was the closing of the Hoover Company headquarters and factory in North Canton circa 2006. Hundreds of people worked in that factory and from what I've heard, Mr. Hoover (nicknamed "Boss") was a pretty OK dude to work for and Hoover was a pretty good place to work-- they had a good union, the factory was in good condition, wages were reasonable and competitive and they had retirement plans. Like a lot of good manufacturing companies, Hoover took care of it's own and there was pride in the product and in the work; people were proud to say "I work for Hoover."

Then the roof fell in and the factory closed and the headquarters moved to New Mexico after there was talk and worry about Hoover going completely bankrupt. You can still purchase a Hoover product, of course, just not one assembled here in Northeastern Ohio, and that can cause folken who dedicated their working lives to Hoover to feel a lump in their throat or even outright bitterness still to this day.

"And all through the years while my buildings fell apart,
I thought about it and thought about it, with all of my heart..."

---the Once-Ler

At the beginning of The Lorax a young boy goes to the far end of the town where the grickle grass grows and old buildings are in a state of total disrepair. THIS is often the general fate of abandoned buildings, especially factories. Anyone who's been near one can conjure images of broken windows, crumbling smokestacks, weeds growing up all over the place, spray painted graffiti, perhaps homeless people living in the corners. It's sad and pathetic.

This has NOT happened to the Hoover Plant, however, or if it HAS, then the owner of the building has been quick to get someone out to remove graffitti and replace glass because when I drive by it it looks wonderful. Oh, sure, it looks ABANDONED and it's obvious that no one works in it, but at least the building isn't condemned and falling to pieces before our very eyes. I'm willing to bet any kid who boasts of defiling the Hoover plant will catch holy hell from his elders and betters, even if THEY had thrown a rock or two through the window of an abandoned building-- that is just not cricket here in NE Ohio.

So I was pleased when I heard that plans were underway to renovate the Hoover factory and environs. The space HAS been maintained and hence is more attractive to local and franchise businesses. I hear-tell that there is plans to get doctor and professional offices into the old administration buildings and to get restaurants and hi-end executive loft apartments and even rooftop dining (an amusing thought as we approach winter here in Ohio) into the factory. There's plans to keep the smokestack that spells out H-O-O-V-E-R in reflective tiles, and the name Hoover is planning to be used in conjunction with the building. First, some photos of the space right now:
now some of what they've got planned:
"Very nice!" I hear you cry, "but what does THIS all have to do with a BEER BLOGG?? Why are you writing this nonesuch HERE instead of o'er at your usual digs??" Simple:

I hear tell there are plans to put a microbrewery restaurant somewhere in the factory space as well.

I know this not only because I pay attention but because I frankly work near the old Hoover factory myself and have been able to see large blowups of these sketches and know that a few businesses like Chipolte and The Flower Factory (and no doubt McDonalds) are interested in putting their stuff in here along with the other hi-end stores and pharmacies. I don't know if it's franchise of a major chain of microbreweries like JH or if the Great Lakes Brewing Company is getting another chapter there or what, but I AM excited: the more microbreweries that are within easy driving distance of Spooky Manour, the better!! (esp. considering that Great Lakes is 62 miles or 1 hour away according to Yahoo!Maps-- that's a long way to go for a broo).
Working nearby the factory means that I shall probably gain firsthand knowledge and insights re: the goings on (including, as I o'erheard someone say in my training class, how "everyone around here is going to have to start enforcing their drug/alcohol policy on lunch breaks once the pub opens"). I shall therefore wear not only the hats of Contributing Editor but also Late-Breaking News Cub Reporter on the Beer Scene.

Perhaps this addition will draw fellow bloggists from far and whee to visit us all...??

*no, of course that's not the original cartoon... HERE it is.


  1. Fascinating. And brief.

    ...for some reason, I'm sure there's more to this story.

  2. Oil City. Amazing that I was just reading an Associated Press article out of Oil City in my local paper today - something about letting the kiddies trick or treat at night after the terrible murder of the 11 year old a few years - or decades - back. Tragic. If you're from there you must recall that...

  3. It was like that for awhile in my old home town when the Henderson mine shut down for 2 years.

  4. Our union rules say we can have one drink with lunch. Yeah Union!


  5. Clever title post Doc. Whichever microbrew that moves in there should have the tag line: Come suck up our beer like a Hoover!

  6. While the developer's plans are infinitely preferable to an empty building, and I am happy if your beer horizons are expanded, I can't help but think of how this is such a typical American tale: well-paying union manufacturing jobs disappear, minimum wage service jobs take their place.

  7. Oh, that was me above. I forgot I was logged in as SV.


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