Austin Company

From Ohio History Central

Carpenter Samuel Austin founded the Austin Company in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1878. Originally, the company focused on residential construction projects, but Austin soon began to branch out into design and construction of commercial buildings as well. The Austin Company first focused on the local market but began to construct buildings outside of Cleveland beginning in 1895.

In the early twentieth century, Samuel Austin's son Wilbert J. Austin, who had a degree in engineering from the Case School of Applied Sciences, went to work with his father. Wilbert Austin introduced the idea of providing engineering services, as well as construction services, to clients. Customers came to the Austin Company, now known as the Samuel Austin & Son Company, for every step in the building process, from architectural design to engineering to construction. This process of handling all parts of design and construction soon became known as the "Austin Method." Word of this new approach spread rapidly. The Austins changed the business' name to the Austin Company in 1916, and soon there were regional offices across the United States.

The Austin Company continued to prosper in the following decades. During World War I, the company built a number of buildings for wartime manufacturing, as well as developing the first prefabricated factories to be shipped to Europe. As soon as the war ended, Austin executives opened the company's first overseas office, located in Paris, France.

In the years that followed, the Austin Company became known for its quality construction of buildings for the aircraft, including hangers for airports, and automotive industries. The company also applied innovative techniques to steel construction, building the first welded-steel structure building in the world. Company research also led to special climate-controlled buildings for manufacturing. Unlike many companies that suffered financial difficulties during the Great Depression, the Austin Company's focus on innovation and research kept the business strong. During World War II, the company once again contributed to the war effort with its construction facilities, building aircraft factories and numerous military facilities.

In the decades since World War II, the Austin Company has been involved in numerous industries, including construction projects for film studios, television stations, newspaper publishers, pharmaceutical companies, and many other industries. Today, the company's headquarters are still located in Cleveland.

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