An HGR customer’s family plays a part in Nickel Plate Station’s history

Robert Zeitz and his mother
Bob Zeitz and his mother, who will be 102 years old in October

One of my coworkers heard a customer telling one of our salespeople a story about how he was a customer when HGR first opened and how someone in his family used to work in the building prior to HGR taking over the space. She pointed him out to me. I walked over and introduced myself to get his story.

I found out Bob Zeitz was born in 1941. His father worked for Cleveland Pneumatic, the first tenant of HGR Industrial Surplus’ current building, which was built by the Defense Plant Corporation. Zeitz owned APR Tool, Willoughby, Ohio, until four years ago. Now, he’s retired, but his son owns businesses. He shops at HGR for his personal interest and for his son.

Here’s what he had to say:

My dad lived in Euclid and carpooled to Cleveland Pneumatic’s Cleveland plant until they built this facility on the vacant real estate to keep up with wartime production [of aircraft landing gear]. My dad applied for a transfer to be closer to home.

I still had a cabinet from 1946 when Cleveland Pneumatic shut down. My dad worked there. When the plant shut, he and my uncle came and bought tooling and equipment to start their own business. I just donated it to HGR. It’s the wooden cabinet on the Receiving dock with the War Production Board plaque.

When I went on a quest to find the cabinet and take a picture of it, it was missing. I panicked. This happens often at HGR – as soon as an item hits the floor, it’s sold. I checked around and was told that it was back in the scrap area. I panicked. Oh no, this part of history was going in the dumpster? I trekked back into the building on a quest, only to find it WAS in the scrap area – for storage.

One of HGR’s owners wanted to preserve this part of history. Once our new offices are built out this fall and furnished, the cabinet will be going in the new area. Whew! It may be a bit old and have taken its knocks, but it still has a useful life, just like lots of industrial surplus that comes through our showroom. Maybe it will become a coat closet for future generations at HGR.

Cleveland Pneumatic cabinetDefense Plant Corporation label on cabinet

1 Comment on An HGR customer’s family plays a part in Nickel Plate Station’s history

  1. Anees Alnaseri says:

    When I bought APR from Mr. Bob Zeitz, one of the great thing I witnessed in the shop was this cabinet and the story of it that Bob told me. I recognized it worths something (morally) and I kept it in the shop and did not want not rid of it, because I believe in history and believed it has a history.
    Later when Bob came and ask if I need it or not. I told him it’s not bothering me and it doesn’t take place in the shop. But, knowing that it has moral value to him than everyone else, I let him take it and moved it to his son’s shop.
    People without history, worth nothing. And I’m glad now it is in safe hands (HGR) and I’m sure you guys will take care of it well.

    Thank you
    Anees Alnaseri
    APR TOOL LLC
    Willoughby, OH

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