Frederick W, E H, and Artemus W Fisher operated the A W Fisher Company in South Bend, Indiana. A generator for gasoline engines was developed and marketed by 1906. They also made the Fisher Electric lighting system. This company incorporated as Fisher Manufacturing in 1909. A W partnered with coal miner Clement O Miniger in 1911. This was the Electric Auto-Lite Corporation. John N Willys joined in 1914 and a new factory was built in Toledo, Ohio in 1916. Electric starters were an important part of their business with production approaching 2,000 per day.
1917 was a huge year for the company. After incorporation and a slight name change, an interest was acquired in several companies. These included Willys-Overland, Fisk Rubber, Federal Rubber, the Buffalo Copper and Brass Rolling Mill, Klaxon, American Enameled Magnet Wire, and Guaranty Securities. Prest-O-Lite was added in 1927.
The 5-day long “Battle of Toledo” is one of the most notable events in U.S. history. During the depression, President Roosevelt enacted executive orders favoring labor unions. This was done as part of his economic recovery package. The workers of Auto-Lite demanded a 10-cent per hour wage increase in 1934. The strike that followed would see the largest peace-time military display in American history. 1350 National Guardsmen faced off against 10,000 strikers. The Guard came equipped with 3 machine gun units and 8 rifle units with bayonets. Two strikers were killed during the conflict. There was a parade through Toledo by 60,000 torch-carrying citizens following resolution of the strike.
Spark Plug production began in 1935. Chrysler was now an important customer. Ford bought the company in 1961 forcing Chrysler to find other suppliers. Government anti-trust action caused Ford to sell to Bendix in 1973. Bendix merged the company with Fram, becoming Allied Automotive in 1983. The Fram group was formed in 2014 which manufactured Auto-Lite products today.
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