Friday, March 7, 2003

Ohio Moments


William H. Spencer invented rubber bands

On March 7, 1923, William H. Spencer of Alliance, Ohio, obtained rejected inner tubes from the Goodyear Co. and began cutting them into bands in his basement. Spencer, who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, began trying to sell his rubber bands to office-supply stores and paper and twine outlets.

One day he noticed the Akron Beacon Journal blowing across lawns and persuaded that paper to bind them with his bands. He talked the Tulsa World into doing the same, and persuaded grocers to use his rubber band instead of string to secure produce.

Spencer continued working for the railroad for 14 years while building his rubber-band business at his Alliance plant. By 1944 he was able to open a second plant in Hot Springs, Ark. In 1957 he opened another, in Franklin, Ky., and one in Salinas, Calif. in 1988. The Alliance Rubber Co. now produces more than 2 million pounds of rubber bands a month in addition to other office, mailing and packaging products and sells to more than 30 countries.

Rebecca Goodman

Ohio Moments will appear daily in 2003. Have a suggestion? Contact Rebecca Goodman at rgoodman@enquirer.com or (513) 768-8361.




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