Biography of Philip A. Myers
North Central Ohio Biographies





P. A. Myers, president of the F. E. Myers & Bro. Company and surviving founder of the original partnership which became a corporation in 1921, remains to carry forward the ideals of Ashland's most important industrial concern.

Myers pumps and hay tools have spread the name of Ashland to every civilized corner of the globe. Without an important exception every Myers product since the beginning of the business a half century ago has been the child of P. A. Myers' inventive genius. Mechanical skill and pride in fine craftsmanship are just as much Myers family traits as are the business acumen and financial leadership which have made Myers enterprises prosper.

Jacob Myers, first of the family to settle in the Ohio wilderness, came from the Pennsylvania Dutch settlement of Millheim when his son George was about ten years old. On the homestead six miles east of Ashland George Myers learned and handed down the love of working well with tools, and on the Myers farm built the woodwork of wagons which John Studebaker, down the road in his blacksmith shop, ironed so well that one of the first Myers Studebaker wagons still stands a good wagon in the Myers plant as a monument to Ashland County's pioneer manufacturing.

Philip Andrew Myers and his brother Francis E. (q. v.), five years his senior, were born in a log house on the original Jacob Myers homestead. Francis, oldest of George Myers's nine children, conquered farm drudgery by avoiding it as soon as he could. A born salesman, he eagerly accepted an offer of $100 a year to work in a drygoods store in town, while Philip continued to struggle with rail splitting, stump pulling and plowing. Philip no less than his brother hated the back breaking toil of those days, but his method of avoidance was to "invent something" to do the work. He tinkered with everything on the farm, repaired and improved the machinery, made the farm gates operate automatically, harnessed the calf to the churn. When farm work permitted, he attended Smithvile Academy until he was 21. Then Francis, already graduated from drygoods to the farm implement business, offered Philip $20 a month as a salesman. For this salary the salesman had to supply his own horse and buggy.

Francis had developed into an aggressive, successful business man. His younger brother lacked that self assertiveness, but his patience and persistence were winning qualities and he soon demonstrated that he, too, could sell. He could not only show the farmers how to use the newfangled machines but he could repair them when they broke down. This combination job of sales and service man whetted the younger brother's inventive mind and incubated ideas that soon became the foundation of the Myers family fortunes.

Failure of the Ashland Machine Company, for which Francis Myers had worked, gave opportunity for F. E. Myers & Bro. to take over that company's implement business. Together "F. E." and "P. A." were able to scrape up $4,500. "P. A." borrowing half of his share of this original capital. "P. A." continued with his horse and buggy to call on the farm trade. The young firm sold everything mechanical for the farm, including pumps. "P. A." spent his spare time in the service shop perfecting his first patented invention, a double action force pump in that day a great advance over the best pump F. E. Myers & Bro. could find for their customers.

"The fellows for whom we are selling get the bulk of the profit; we should go into the manfacturing end and my pump is the way for us to make a start," was the younger brother's argument. "F. E." laid no claims to invention. He would not have attempted on his own to design and build a wheelbarrow; but he knew a good device when he saw it, and he had faith and courage to be a pioneer. From boyhood "F. E." and "P. A." were a team, abetting in mischief, consulting and supplementing each other in business. They were always more than partners and brothers; they were pals. "When you are sure you have it as near right as you think you can get it, we'll go ahead," was the older one's usual answer to the younger.

P. A. Myers' first pump patent launched the young firm of implement dealers in a manufacturing business which grew conservatively until it became the largest of its specific kind in the world. One invention after another popped from the fertile brain of the younger brother. The Myers hay unloading tool and the barn track on which it runs followed the first pump invention. Later came the rolling barn door hanger which nettled a small fortune in itself. In all P. A. Myers has taken out about 100 patents, and he still continues to evolve new mechanical ideas and apply every year for more patents. Doubtless there would have been many more Myers patents, if the inventor had permitted his imagination to run into channels outside of the firm's manufacturing activities. But every time "P. A." thought of a patentable idea it was put to the Myers business test. "Does it fit into our line? If not, forget it."

Concentration of energy and division of labor were cardinal principles of the two brothers heading the firm in which many of their family eventually participated. "F. E." and "P. A.", while always working in closest harmony, fell naturally into the functions for which they seemed best fitted. "F. E." retained charge of finances and sales, while "P. A." was supreme in invention, factory organization, and production. "F. E." was president until his passing in 1923, whereupon "P. A." succeded to the leadership.

Individually and together the Myers brothers were drawn into outside financial and business interests until their ramifications extended in many directions, including tractions, steel and iron, rubber, insurance, and banking. Although Mr. Myers has shouldered onto others the management of executive details, he still retains active direction of the F. E. Myers & Bro. Company as president and general manager. He is also a director and vice president of the Faultless Rubber Company and of the First National Bank, both of Ashland; a director of the Union Trust Company, Cleveland; president of the Chase Foundry & Manufacturing Company, Columbus, Ohio; director Security Life Insurance Company of America, Chicago; director Pocono Rubber Cloth Company, Trenton, N. J.

Mr. Myers is a Democrat, a Mason, a nationally prominent layman of the Lutheran Church and a liberal supporter of Ashland College. His clubs are the Country, Rotary and Elks, Ashland; the Union and MidDay, Cleveland. He is a member of the Ohio Society of New York.

Possessed of indwelling human sympathy and kindliness, Mr. Myers has given generously, though always unostentatiously. Aside from his gift of nine acres of valuable land in the heart of Ashland as Myers Athletic Field, under Y. M. C. A. control, he has never willingly permitted any of his philanthropies to become public.

The beautiful chancel window in Trinity Lutheran Church, Ashland, is a memorial to Grace Myers, who died at the age of eight. She and her twin brother, Guy Chase Myers, were the only children of Mr. Myers's marriage with Samantha Alice Chase, who passed away in 1923, beloved by all the community to which she contributed outstanding leadership in things cultural and spiritual. The late Mrs. Myers was the daughter of James Ezra and Jane (Doty) Chase, who were leading citizens of Ashland County. Guy Chase Myers was educated at Harvard, entered the F. E. Myers & Bro. firm as a young man, and is now vice president and a director of the corporation; also a director of Faultless Rubber Company. In recent years he has taken over many of the business responsibilities of his father.

Mr. Myers married Josephine Forsyth, daughter of the late Joseph William and Mary (Pentecost) Forsyth, of Cleveland, April 28, 1928, at Irvington-on-Hudson, N. Y. Miss Forsyth's musical talent was so pronounced that while she was still a young singer in Cleveland she was selected as a pupil by Mme. Marcella Sembrich, and before her marriage to Mr. Myers she had become widely known on the concert stage. Several of her musical compositions have received high recognition, particularly her setting of The Lord's Prayer, which she composed on the day of her marriage and dedicated to Mr. Myers. A daughter, Phyllis Arlene, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Myers in New York, Aug. 25, 1929. They spend most of their winters in California and the South and divide the remaining time between Ashland and New York.

From:
History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1931


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