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Thursday January 4, 1978


#1 - The South Poplar Street building where Davis' first conversion unit was installed. It was the second location for the Davis & Newcomer Company. Pictured are (left to right) Paul Newcomer, Tom Corner, Harold Davis and Lyle Copley.

PIX #2 - Present location of Davis & Newcomer on Columbus Avenue.

PIX #3 - The conversion unit designed by Harold Davis

PIX #4 - The elevator in George's warehouse which was the first converted to the Davis design.

Davis & Newcomer Elevator Co. isn't Fostoria's oldest or largest manufacturer ...and it didn't start out manufacturing least not perse.

And, it may be that few Fostorians know how the company happened to be formed. It seems to me to be an interesting story which the readers of Potluck would like to see.

Back in 1920, N.E. George, one of Fostoria's enterprising business men, whom older residents will remember, had a wholesale frit business, located on south Poplar Street adjacent to the Nickel Plate railroad tracks. He advertised himself as "The Banana King". He sold fuit of all kinds and brought it into Fostoria in carload lots. The Poplar Street building, still standing, is where George's warehoused his products.

Back then, Harold Davis, one of the original partners in Davis & Newcomer, was doing electrical work, George inquired of Davis if he could electrify his hand-operated elevator in the Poplar Street building.


Davis who was mechanically as eletrically inclined from boyhood, put his mind to work on George's inquiry and soon came up with the solution. He told George he could do the job and it would cost $250. George told him to go ahead and if it worked he would pay him the stipulated price.

Of course it worked, and it was the first of many assemblies that were eventually manufactured to convert hand-operated to eletrically operated elevators in this area and the adjacent states. The original device is still in working order.

Davis & Newcomer was not formed immediately, after the first device was put together by Davis. At about that time, Fostoria Sales & Contracting Co. was formed to do construction work in Fostoria. Both Harold Davis and Paul Newcomer, another Fostorian, became involved in it, but the new company was not successful and it was then 1921, that Davis and Newcomer considered the elevator device a more stable and lucrative market, so they broke away and formed their company.


Their first location was above the George Fink Plumbing Shop at 304 N. Main St. The location was where the Professional Building is now. They outgrew the upstairs room, and then took over the South Poplar Street building where N.E. George had operated, he had gone into other pursuits.

Davis and his partner Newcomer, started searching our prospective customers for their elevator conversion unit. They combed Fostoria, Findlay, Tiffin and other towns in this area...going down streets and alleys to locate buildings with elevators...knowing that they probably were hand operated. And their efforts paid off. The conversion unit they made was well worth the price and much cheaper than a new electrically operated elevator.


One photo here shows the conversion unit which led and established Davis & Newcomer in the elevator business and eventually the manufacture of a line of electric elevators for homes, business and industry. Another photo shows the elevator on which first conversion unit was installed at the George warehouse. Abe, son of George, appears in photo.

I'm sure you'll believe it when I say Harold Davis has an elevator in his home, which gets used between 13,000 and 14,000 times per year, according to the counter which records each up and down trip it makes.

In 1930, Davis & Newcomer moved to the present location on Columbus Avenue, where it continues to operate under the ownership of Rikhard Laiho. The business was sold in 1962, when the partners retired from active business.

Paul Newcomer passed away in 1969. Davis' old friends still find him very active for his age. He is about town and the Elks Club every day. I had anticipated using Davis' photo with this story, but his modesty precluded it.


There are some interesting sidelights to this story.

Harold Davis informed me that the Columbus Avenue building was probably the first totally fireproof structure of its kind in Fostoria, having been poured concrete construction throughout.

Prior to taking over the Columbus Avenue building it was the location of a unique business for Fostoria...a company called Allen's Red Tame Cherry. The product they manufactured was a non-carbinated soft-drink made from fresh cherries and was dispensed at soda fountains and wherever such beverages were sold.

It was distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada. I visited the plant as a boy, and recall that cherry leaves were also hauled to the plant for use, so I assume that they imparted something to the concoction.

Generally, places selling the popular drink displayed a statue approximately two feet tall of a girl with head tilted up and hand poised above head about to lower a delicious appearing red cherry into her mouth.

Entwined in this story, quite naturally, is N.E. George, his family, and more about his other business persuits. That's a story for another time.

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