A brief history of Logan Actuator Co. and Logan Engineering Co.


In 1915, Henry H. Logan, while working as a mechanic at Anaconda Mining Co. in Butte, Montana, came into contact with William Lilly. Mr. Lilly had designed a device to provide safety protection for the Mine Hoist, to help prevent overspeeding and overtravel. Mr. Lilly's device was designed in such a way that it relied on electrical power being on, which made the device "Non-Fail-Safe." Mr. Logan redesigned the device and produced the first "Lilly Hoist Safety Controller."

In 1917, looking to begin production of the Controller, Mr. Logan moved to Chicago, and eventually connected up with Duro Metal Products, a producer of hand tools. He made arrangements to manufacture the Controller from their factory, under the Duro name.

On January 1, 1935, Mr. Logan moved out of the Duro plant, and formed Logan Engineering Co. He built a small, but dedicated workforce dedicated to the belief that a superior product will always win over the market. Logan Engineering Co. continued to produce the Lilly Hoist Controller, in several variations, and built a worldwide reputation for providing a quality product.

The original plant was on the second floor of a four story building at 4541 Ravenswood Ave. in Chicago.  After about 4 years, as the business expanded, new space was required and a half city block was purchased, 4901 W. Lawrence Ave., and a manufacturing and office facility was built, comprising some 14,000 square feet.  This was paid for in full, along with dividends and bonuses within one year.

In 1940, Logan Engineering was approached by a sales organization, representing, in part, Montgomery Wards to explore the possibility of producing a small metal cutting lathe, so that Wards could compete with Sears and their Atlas Lathe. Logan Engineering agreed, and the first Montgomery Wards Power Kraft Lathes were built. In 1941, Logan decided that in addition to providing the Lathe for Wards, they could produce a lathe and market it under the Logan name.

The demand for Lathes was such that the plant was expanded almost immediately to over 35,000 square feet.  By 1949, business had grown to where the plant and office areas had grown to several buildings comprising over 62,000 square feet, with approximately 120 employees.

During the next 30 years, Logan Engineering manufactured many different variations of the Logan Lathe, all driven by Customer demand. Logan built Lathes of 9", 10", 11", 12", 14" and 15" swing size with bed lengths from 33" to 68". In the 1960's, they built the "Electri-Matic", a 15" swing Automatic Turret Lathe. From 1940 to 1971, approximately 90,000 Lathes were built by Logan Engineering Co., and sold under the Logan and Wards names.

During all this time, part of the operation of Logan Engineering continued to dedicate itself to the production of the Lilly Hoist Controller. More models were developed, and options, usually at customers request, were added. Other mine related products were also developed, including the Logan Hoist Recorder, the Logan Recording Tachometer, and the Pump. The Logan Aridifier, a device to remove contaminants from compressed air lines was also manufactured.

In 1969, the company was sold to Houdaille Industries, and in 1971, the operation was moved to Tennessee, to consolidate it with other manufacturing plants they had. At that time, Henry Logan decided he wanted to retain control of the Controller division, and bought that part of the company back from Houdaille. He then formed Logan Actuator Co., and started operations in a different building, only a few blocks from the previous site of Logan Engineering Co. The "Actuator" in the name came from a device Mr. Logan had designed, which was a hydraulic lifting device, intended for the Mining and Steel Mill Industries. The Logan Actuator was never marketed.

Several years later, it was discovered that Houdaille had allowed the registration of the name "Logan Engineering Co." to lapse, and Logan Actuator registered it as a non-operating company, to protect the long earned, and well known, family name.

In 1977, Henry H. Logan passed away at the age of 95. He had continued as President of Logan Actuator Co., and was still very active in the daily operations of the company, right up until his death. George H. Logan, who had joined his father in the business after leaving the Army at the close of World War II, took over the role of President, and Chief Executive Officer, as he remains today. In 1995, Scott S. Logan, grandson of Henry, who joined the company in 1978, was named Vice President of Manufacturing.


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