Mapel Park Tannery.
||The Mapel Park Tannery was
1. Churchill Blakey.
2. Monroe Hall.
3. David McCarley.
||George Caldwell became the
manager and he later bought out the interest of Blakey, Hall and McCarley.
||Some time after 1904 Lloyd
Stanford Howlett, who was married to a daughter of George Caldwell, started a small
business, known as Caldwell Lace Leather Co.
||George Caldwell died in 1930
and after his death the two companies were merged and were called Caldwell Lace Leather
||Lloyd Howlett managed both
companies. In the mid 1920s W. C. Howlett joined the company.
||Lloyd Stanford Howlett died.
W. C. Howlett became President and was joined by his son J. Richard (Joe) Howlett. Another son (Caldwell Howlett) of W. Caldwell
Howlett was the Chevrolet dealer in Auburn.
||W. C. Howlett and Joe Howlett
sold the Company to Browning Arms Company of Morgan, Utah. W. C. retired and Joe became
||By 1985 Caldwell had
purchased several of its lace competitors, an additional tannery, two other leather goods
plants, and bought and started two non-leather products manufacturers. Caldwell employed
over 250 persons, 125 of which were in the Auburn facilities.
||Joe Howlett and another
businessman, Harry Williamson purchased Caldwell and its division from Browning.
Williamson was the majority shareholder. Williamson immediately began to dismantle the
former management team and sell off the individual divisions.
||The lace cutting operation
in Auburn was moved to New Albany, Indiana. All the other divisions were either closed or
sold. The only remaining operation in Auburn was the original manufacturing plant that
Caldwell had started in the late 1800s.
||Williamson decided to close
the Auburn manufacturing operation, selling the last Auburn fixture of Caldwell at
auction. To preserve family history, memories and involvement and little other
considerations, Joe Howletts daughter, Lisa, purchased the Caldwell building at the
auction and Joe bought the remaining assets. Thus began the Auburn Leather Company,
jointly owned and operated by Lisa and Joe Howlett.
||First year in operation:- 12
employees with $900,000 in sales
||Fifty-five employees with $5
The following are other versions of the history of Caldwell
Lace Leather by different authors. The author is unknown in the following:
CALDWELL TANNING CO.,
CALDWELL LACE LEATHER COMPANY
Mr. G. W. Caldwell, a native of North Carolina, was a
Confederate soldier in the Civil War. When the war ended he was near
Russellville, Kentucky. He liked the community so well that he settled
there. In order to make a living he began tanning various hides, but fort
some reason the water there was not satisfactory for his purpose.
About 1879 Mr. Caldwell moved his entire family to
Auburn, Kentucky and began working in a small tannery owned by Mr. George
Thomas Blakey and his brother Mr. Church Blakey. The water in the Black
Lick Creek that flows through Auburn was found to be very satisfactory for
his method of tanning. Some years later Monroe Hall bought the tannery and
Mr. Caldwell continued to work for him. Around 1900 Mr. Caldwell and Dr.
T. O. Helm bought the tannery.
In the early years the tannery was operated and all
the leather sold locally. Only lace leather was made, it being made in
three types, Indian Tanned, Rawhide and Chrome. Soon after 1900 Mr. L. S.
Howlett of Shepherdsville, Kentucky married Mr. Caldwell’s daughter,
Ethel. He, too became interested in the tannery. He looked into the future
and saw the possibility of building up a big business out of this tannery.
In 1904 the tannery was sold to Mr. Caldwell and his son-in-law, L. S.
Howlett. The name was then changed into Caldwell Lace Leather Co. At this
time they opened a branch of the business on Main Street. This was begun
in a very small room with Mr. Howlett as manager and only one employee,
Mr. Jim Lively. They made knotted hame strings, boot laces and items of
Mr. G. W. Caldwell died in 1930 and Mrs. Howlett then
purchased the tannery from her brother. The tannery continued operation
under the same name as before. There are not records as to how old the
tannery business is in Auburn, but it has been in operation by the
Caldwell's and Howletts since 1879. It has had continuous operation, with
the exception of two shut downs. Back in 1908 or 1909 the Caldwells and
Howletts moved to Columbia, Tennessee and operated a tannery there for
about eighteen months. When it reopened World War II had already begun and
the tannery went into full scale production immediately.
During the War when supplies of all kinds were
urgently needed the tannery began producing, not only its usual types of
lace leather, but it started production of strap leather and harness
leather. All during the war the tannery furnished harness leather, sides
of lace and strap leather to the Government. In the Leather Factory
leather parts for tanks and trucks were manufactured. Laces were furnished
for snow boot laces. Many of the boot laces were used in the Russian shoes
that were furnished by lend-lease.
The tanning in the beginning was done with tan bark,
but now it is all done with chemicals, such as alum, Quebracho Extract,
Gambier and a number of other chemicals. The tannery is now producing one
hundred sides of leather per day of various kinds and colors.
The leather products are sold through wholesaler
jobbers, over the entire United States. There are also regular
representatives that cover the territory. This company is still operated
by the same family. Mr. W. C. Howlett, the President, is the grandson of
Mr. G. W. Caldwell and the son of Mr. L. S. Howlett. Mr. W. S. Howlett,
the vice-president, is the great grandson of Mr. Caldwell, grandson of Mr.
L. S. Howlett and the son of W. C. Howlett.
The family is proud of the company, the labor
relations between management and employees are perfect, the products are
second to none in quality. The company’s policy is “Service and fair
dealing with all."
A hand written note at the bottom of the historic events of
Caldwell Lace and Leather reads: "Julia, hope this will help you." W.
Mr. G. W. (George Washington) Caldwell, a native of
North Carolina was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. When the was
ended he was near Russellville, Kentucky. He settled there and began
tanning various hides. He moved to Auburn and began a small tannery on
Black Lick Creek about 1879. This tannery was owned by Mr. Church Blakey,
J. C. Darby and Mr. George Thomas Blakey (Deed Book 56, P. 52 – October
Other persons who owned an interest at one time or
another were Dr. T. O. Helm, Mr. John helm, Mr. J. Monroe Hall Sr., Mr. C.
B. Hall and Mr. Lloyd Caldwell.
Mr. G. W. Caldwell, by his industry and thrift began
buying out each partner until he and his son-in-law, Mr., L. S. Howlett
owned all the stock.
During the time of Mr. Caldwell’s management the
company was known as “Maple Park Tannery.” The kinds of leather tanned
were Indian Tan, Rawhide and Chrome.
In 1900 Mr. L. S. Howlett married Mr. Caldwell’s only
daughter, Ethel Nell. In 1904 Mr. Howlett began the Caldwell Lace and
Leather Company and manufactured the leather of the entire production of
the tannery. Mr. L. S. Howlett started in a small room on Main Street (Old
Moody Building). His first employee was Mr. Jim Lively.
Mr. L. S. Howlett’s son, William Caldwell joined the
firm in the mid 1920’s. In 1930 Mr. G. W. Caldwell died and Mr. L. S.
Howlett purchased a large tobacco warehouse on Depot Street and moved his
The Caldwell Lace Leather Company was operated as a
proprietorship until about 1942 when interests were sold to Mr. L. S.
Howlett’s son William Caldwell and his grandsons, William Stanford and Joe
Mr. L. S. Howlett died in 1946 and the company was
organized into a corporation equally owned by Mrs. L. L. Howlett, Mr. W.
C. Howlett, Mr. W. S. Howlett and Mr. J. R. Howlett. Mr. W. C. Howlett and
Mr. W. S. Howlett purchased the tannery to lease to the corporation.
In December 30, 1955 Mr. W. S. Howlett sold his
interest to Mr. W. C. and Mr. J. R. Howlett. Also on December 30, 1955 the
Caldwell Lace Leather Company Inc. purchased the property and equipment of
the tannery from Mr. W. C. and Mr. W. S. Howlett, Mr. W. C. Howlett has
been President since 1946.
In October 25th 1968 the Caldwell Lace Leather Co. was sold
to the Browning Arms Corp. of Morgan, Utah.
(This was a hand written note
at the bottom of the typed written document)
Note 1: This document was passed
on to “Julia” which was signed by W. C. Howlett.
William Caldwell Howlett died in 1984. He was the father of Joe Howlett
International Standards Organization Certification
Industries earns International Standards Organization (ISO) Certificate after years
By Amy Gibson - Staff Reporter
News-Democrat & Leader (May 22, 1988)
Caldwell Industries of Auburn has
achieved a long sought after goal. They have become ISO 9000 certified.
Edward Sitzler Sr. bought this division
of the company in 1985 after being a sales representative for Caldwell Leather Company for
25 years. He purchased the punch press division and later added the molding operations.
This process has taken them a year and
a half. Steve Jeffries, quality manager, said. "This is not over. We've got a lot of
work to do. This is still a young system."
According to Eddie Sitzler, vice
president, "It's going to be a big impact"
Independent audit organizations
(called registrars) are the only ones that can certify that Caldwell has developed and
implemented a quality system that meets ISO/QS 9000 requirements."
Caldwell does not wait for these
auditors to tell them that something is wrong. They have assigned internal auditors to do
a monthly audit. These employees come from all positions and are trained in Louisville.
This will help them get rid of problems before they grow.
Caldwell Industries Quality Policy:
Caldwell Industries will provide defect-free products that satisfy the requirements of our
customers on time and every time. Sitzler said. "We have to keep it in our head while
we're on the job all day long."
"QS-9000 is a quality system model
that was developed by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.
The standard represents one of the most
widespread standardization efforts in the history of the American automotive industry. By
standardizing their business practices, suppliers to the Big 3 no longer have to satisfy
individual customer requests which where often redundant as the automakers share the same
supply base. QS-9000 removes that burden, making it easier for suppliers to do business
with the Big 3."
"ISO 9000 is a series of quality
system standards that were created by the International Organization for Standardization
(ISO), based in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization is presently comprised of more than
110 national standards bodies, with each member representing a different country. The
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the member body representing the United
"The whole purpose behind the
development of ISO 9000 was to simplify the international exchange of goods and services
by developing a common set of quality standards. That goal has been realized through ISO
According to Cecelia Stanley, head of
training. "Training is a big part of this." Stanley keeps a file for each
employee. Inside, records show what they're trained to do.
"Today, the international
standards are sanctioned by most nations of the European Community, making ISO 9000
certification a virtual prerequisite for doing business there." Sitzler said,
What it means...(is) that most of the customers that we're trying to do business
with is requiring certification."
Stanley said. "The automotive
industry will no longer do business with firms who are not QS certified."
"European businesses place great
weight on ISO 9000 certification because it is a credible tool for ensuring the quality of
a facilities' product or service. For this reason, registration to the international
standard will become increasingly desire, expected and even required by certain markets
"When companies become registered
to ISO 9000, they have a adhere to a lengthy list of quality system requirements."
What does ISO mean? "The
International Organization for Standardization (IS0) of Geneva, Switzerland.
Sitzler said. "We're now a world
: The Editor, News-Democrat & Leader, Russellville, Logan Co., KY
The people of Auburn can feel very
proud of their industry. I refer here to one in particular, namely - Caldwell Industries
in their recent achievement in becoming ISO 9000 certified.
This is a wonderful achievement for any
company and great credit must be given to the Sitzler's and the entire work force for
achieving this goal.
To qualify to become ISO 9000 certified
places a huge burden on any company both in terms of costs and time, but these are
outweighed by the advantages of better quality, prompt deliveries and a work force that
are highly skilled.
Being familiar with the ISO Quality
Standard requirements from a European perspective, I believe to maintain old customers and
pursue new ones, ISO 9000 certification will be a prerequisite going into the new
The Directors, Management and Staff of
Caldwell Industries have taken the lead and are to be congratulated.
P.O. Box 325
Leather Firm To Remain In Auburn
News Democrat on January 6, 1967:
Water treatment facilities:
(Back in 1967 the lack
of treatment facilities almost caused Caldwell Lace Leather Co., to
relocate. The following article appeared in the News Democrat on January
Auburn, Ky. - The Caldwell Lace Leather Co., which had
considered relocation to Bowling Green, will remain in Auburn, President W. C. Howlett
The announcement followed the confirmation by U.S. Rep.
Frank A. Stubblefield of a $46,340 grant to the firm for the construction of a $68,200
tannery waste treatment system.
Stubblefield said he was advised by the U.S. Water Pollution
Control Administration that the grant would be made by the Department of the Interior.
The leather company's search for a new location was prompted
by treatment facilities inadequate for the waste of the company.
"In view of this grant, we would not be interested in
building elsewhere," said Howlett. The grant stipulates that the treatment facilities
be constructed at the existing company site.
Stubblefield said he was informed that the purpose of the
grant is to demonstrate the feasibility of treating complete tannery waste. The Auburn
tannery is the only one in the nation which performs all three types of leather tanning -
chrome, vegetable and alum.
The treatment plant also would serve as a model for the
construction of such facilities at other tanneries.
The plan calls for development of a system to pre-treat the
three types of leather tanned by the company, to combine them and to completely treat
tannery industrial waste.
New Owner For Caldwell
News Democrat on:
May 10, 1983
Ky. - Caldwell Lace Leather Co. Inc., a company which has been in Auburn
for approximately 120 years, has new owners.
Harry Williamson, 42, of
Franklin and Joseph Howlett, president of the company, are the only partners in
the new ownership and they finalized their purchase of the company from Browning
Arms of Morgan, Utah, April 20. 
Williamson said he
owns an 80 percent interest in the company and signed copies of the bond
agreement filed in the Logan County Clerk's office as secretary of the company.
owned the company before it was sold to Browning in the late 1960s and he
continued to manage it as president.
The purchase of the
company was financed in part with $1.8 million of industrial revenue bonds
issued through the City of Auburn and a $2.25 million loan from First National
Bank of Louisville.
purchase price was $5.3 million.
The sale includes
the Caldwell plant in Auburn, August Barth Leather Co. of Jeffersonville, Ind.;
Thermacoustics Co. of New Albany, Ind.; and Blue Ribbon Leather Co. of
plants make leather products including shoe laces, gaskets and horse riding
gear. The Thermacoustics plant also manufactures insulation parts for General
Electric appliances and insulation for metal buildings.
Williamson said he plans to put a new emphasis on expanding sales and product
lines but no decisions have been finalized. The company already has started work
on maintenance of the facility, he added.
1967, Williamson formed the Interstate Box Co. in Bowling Green, which
eventually was sold to Willamette Industries Inc., the company that owns
Western Kraft Paper Group.
1970, he started Southern Container Corp. in Franklin and sold it to Weyerhauser
in 1980. Williamson owns a 49 percent interest in Southern Fibre in Franklin.
Caldwell and residents near its landfill site on Ky. 1039 have been embroiled in
a dispute over alleged pollution of area water wells caused by chemicals
leaching from the landfill. Lawsuits are pending in U.S. District Court in
Bowling Green and Logan County Court.
Michael Taimi, commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection,
Monday signed a notice of violation that was sent to Caldwell because the
company drained two waste holding ponds at the landfill in mid-March.
According to Joseph Schmidt of the division of waste management, the notice
cites Caldwell for violating its permits and state regulations by discharging
the wastes from the ponds without first notifying the state and for mixing storm
runoff with wastewater.
(Landfill problems -
Caldwell received in January a permit for the landfill and submitted a plan to
dig storm drainage ditches around the landfill that were to go through two
existing holding ponds.
state claims Caldwell dug the ditches, draining the water in the ponds across
300 feet of Bobby Reeves' property and into a sinkhole without state approval.
notice of violation was originally scheduled to be sent last month was delayed,
Schmidt said. Apparently there was some confusion about whether the notice
already had been sent because the state sent letters about remedying the
situation to Caldwell, he added.
Williamson said two employees have been hired, James Head and Nancy Preisser, to
work with the company's vice president, James Moore, to monitor the situation at
state has issued a permit to Caldwell for a landspreading operation at the site,
and the company has purchased $30,000 worth of equipment to begin injecting the
wastes from the Auburn plant rather than storing it in open pits, Williamson
company is waiting for a state permit to begin the injection process, William