When Manufacturing Was King

Miami Businesses

An early 60’s trade show featuring NEO manufacturers Newman Industries, Burlington Manufacturing, Corbus Springs, Dumas Manufacturing, and Safe Anchor Co.

Once upon a time in the early 70’s, an American ping pong player got on the wrong bus. He found himself surrounded by Red Chinese players. He was pretty shook up, but one Chinese player, who spoke a little English, reached out to him and made him feel welcome. This eventually led to Richard Nixon visiting China, and ultimately to American manufacturing nearly dying, as China became the maker of the world’s goods.

Once upon a time, Miami and surrounding communities had dozens of manufacturing facilities. We made everything from boats to gun holsters, from pottery to clothing, from giant tires to mattresses.

George Newman, boat manufacturer, gets an award

Newman Industries began making boats in Commerce in 1959. By 1968 they were making 13 different models of fiberglass boats. That year, they were manufacturing in North Miami and were expanding. They continued as an independent company until 1986, when they were purchased by Bayliner.

Burlington Manufacturing ad, 1954

In 1952, clothing manufacturer Burlington opened up a facility in Miami. They started out at 22 S Main, but moved to 226 N main in 1959. By 1968, they were still going strong. The Miami facility closed sometime after 1969, and the company itself went bankrupt in 2001.

Dumas Manufacturing ramps up production in 1946

Dumas Manufacturing started up about 1929, making a variety of stuff like toy hoops for kids to roll around with a guiding stick, boat seat cushion/life preservers, lawn mower guards, dog mats, and other items. W.L. Dumas also purchased the Miami Tin Shop in 1919. He employed a bunch of Miami and local residents over the years. Dumas Manufacturing was still in business as of 1968.

1957 article about the Safe-Anchor Co. of Quapaw

In 1955, Joe Smith of Quapaw began making anchors which he invented, and marketed as Safe-Anchors. I was unable to find anything on the company on the internet, or any mention of them after 1961 in the News-Record. But two years after opening up shop, they had shipped anchors to all 48 states and to Canada.

At presstime, there is still manufacturing in Miami, but a tiny fraction of what was once here. Newell Coach in Commerce is a bright spot, so is ThermoFisher Scientific. But the days of families being supported by the manufacturing of a wide variety of products are sadly over. Things are hopping in China, though. :-/

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