Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Hodes Zink Company
Scope and Content
The Hodes-Zink Photograph Collection was donated by Brenda Ransom.
The Hodes-Zink Manufacturing Company began operations December 1917 at a second floor location in downtown Fremont, Ohio. A. K. Hodes and Howard E. Zink were equal partners in the business with Hodes overseeing production and Zink focusing on sales of their products. The company’s first major products were storm fronts for buggies but they soon expanded into producing accessories for newly popular automobiles. Some of these accessories included radiator and hood covers, top recovers, and rear and side curtains for touring cars and roadsters. The Hodes-Zink Company developed a system of using patterns of each model and mass producing each item which were sold under the trademark Sure-Fit.
The company prospered and grew. In 1921 they moved to the corner of Napoleon and Lynn Streets in Fremont, Ohio and in 1923 incorporated. Hodes-Zink Manufacturing Company opened a facility in Passaic, New Jersey in 1936 to service the eastern trade outlets and added a second plant in Fremont, Ohio on Jefferson Street.
A.K. Hodes died suddenly in late November 1938. With the purchases of his assets by Mr. Zink the company name was changed to the Howard Zink Corporation. Purchasing another plant at Charleston, Mississippi in 1939 the firm’s primary focus shifted to the production of automobile seat covers which were widely sold under local and national names. Other products were cushions, seat pads, mother’s utility bags, nationally famous baby pals, reflectorized outdoor highway signs, and advertising display signs. A west coast plant opened in 1945 at Long Beach, California and the Consolite Sign Division was purchased in 1947.
Upon the death of Howard Zink in 1957 Jack Zink became president and general manager of the corporation. With his physical condition a factor (Jack Zink suffered severe injuries to both legs in World War II), Jack Zink announced the sale of the company, with the exception of the Consolite Division, to Indian Head Mills January 1966. The company became part of Crawford Manufacturing. In the next 40 years the company went through several changes of owner and name: 1969-Starlite Industries bought the firm and changed the name back to Zink due to its reputation; 1977-the name was changed to Starlite; 1984-Wynn International took over the business and named it Wynn’s Automotive; 1986-Bestop, Inc. split from Wynn’s; 1989-Bestop split, selling half the company to Saddleman, Inc. which took the Fremont, Ohio facility and changed the name to LeBra Products.
Scope and Content
The photograph collection originally belonged to Mary Ellen “Mayme” (Young) Newberger, who was born in1892 and died in1969. Ms Newberger was the longtime seamstress and forelady with the Fremont plant. She was hired as a seamstress in 1919 and retired in 1953. The collection consists of 15 black and white 8 ½ x 11 reprints of Zink, Hodes, employees, interior views of the plant’s work rooms and offices, exterior of the plant, and the company truck. Information from the donor dates the 15 reprints as taken in May 1923. In addition to the reprints, there are 8 black and white 8½ x 11 photographs of the company’s “Quarter Century Club.” The “club” consisted of employees who had served with the company for 25 years or more. In seven of the eight photographs, the employees are identified. Also included in the collection is a panoramic view of Hodes-Zink Company employees, taken at the Fremont, Ohio, plant June 2, 1929
- Exterior of company’s main plant in Fremont, Ohio
- A. K. Hodes
- Howard E. Zink
- Hodes-Zink offices
- Pattern Room (woman is Mayme Newberger)
- Seamstress #1 (woman standing is Mayme Newberger)
- Seamstress #2 (woman standing is Mayme Newberger)
- Seamstress #3 (woman standing is Mayme Newberger)
- Packaging Room
- Car Tops (man holding dog is Mayme’s brother, Earl F. Young)
- Piece Room (woman at left, wearing apron and glasses, is Mayme Newberger)
- Box Room
- Shipping Room (man on left is Howard Zink; woman is Mayme Newberger)
- Stock Room
- Company Truck
“Quarter Century Club” photographs, 1944, 1947 through 1953
Panoramic view of Hodes-Zink Company, Fremont, Ohio, dtd. June 2, 1929