1917

The Year It Began

 

Originally from Tipton, Missouri, Ed and William (Bill) Orscheln moved to Sturgeon, Missouri to start their own farm in 1917.

A few years of bad weather and poor cattle prices soon sent the brothers scrambling for new sources of income.

 

1921

Orscheln Heights

 

Inspired by the portable dance floor the two had hauled around in their teenage years, Ed and Bill opened a dance hall near Sturgeon. They called it "Orscheln Heights."

 

1924

The Dance Route

 

The dance business had some success, but local farm folk had limited means to travel. The brothers bought an old Model T pick-up, installed benches in the back, and hauled people to and from their dance hall.

On one such trip, a grocery store owner in Renick, Missouri offered Bill 25 cents to bring a box of bread from Moberly on his next run.

Bill made that delivery and started soliciting other hauling business along his dance route. Soon, they had so much business they had to take the benches out of the back of their truck.

1925 - 1930s

Family Run

 

The next year, Ed and Bill bought a second truck, hired another driver (brother Al) and a bookkeeper (sister Jo). Ed managed the farm. Bill managed the hauling. Three or four nights a week, they had dances at Orscheln Heights. Their dance hall became a regular stop on the Chicago-St. Louis-Kansas City entertainment circuit, and big bands like Benny Goodman’s played the pavilion at the Heights.

Mid 1930s

Trucking Along

 

The invention of the jukebox in the mid-1930s was the death knell for live entertainment dance halls. In 1936, Orscheln Heights was closed down.

However, Ed and Bill had established their trucking business, "Orscheln Brothers Truck Line." They continued to make deliveries across Missouri.

1938 - 1950s

Hold the Brakes

 

In 1938, after hearing driver complaints of failing parking brakes, maintenance supervisor and repairman brother Al Orscheln drafted, created, and installed the first "overcenter" parking brake in a St. Louis bound Orscheln truck.

They were such a success, the brothers patented the design in 1939 and installed them on the family's whole fleet of delivery trucks. In 1946, Orscheln Brake Lever Manufacturing Company (Later to become Orscheln Products) was incorporated to build the brake system for sale to others.

1950s

Successful Sales

 

Bill's son, Don Orscheln, joined the family business in 1949, "missionarying" for the sale of their new brake system. Through his efforts, the Orscheln brake lever became optional equipment for several major manufacturers in the 1950s. International Harvester added Orscheln to its catalog, and later General Motors Trucks did the same.

1960s

Asset Divide

 

In the early 1960s, the five Orscheln brothers divided up the family businesses. The largest portion was the truck line. It was given to brothers Ed, Ted, Al, and Louie.

Bill took over the remaining businesses; Orscheln Brake Lever Manufacturing, an equipment dealership, a real estate venture, and a few farm stores.

Bill's son, Jerry, took over the farm supply business in the mid 1960s, creating an enterprise that has grown to more than 180 stores today.

The first big order of Bill and Don's brake levers came in the late 1960s, when American Motors added the Orscheln brake lever as standard equipment on the Dodge truck.

1970s

Farewell

 

The 1970s brought a number of management and operational challeges for Orscheln Brother's trucking line, resulting in the business coming to an end.

Don and Jerry continued to explore a variety of business adventures for years to come, including encouraging Don's son, Barry, as he built a commerical leasing company in the late 1970s.

1980s

Orbseal & Commercial Leasing

 

Bob, son of Don and grandson of founder Bill, started Orbseal Inc. in 1983, along with two partners. They were problem solvers in automotive sealants and adhesives, and Orbseal shortly became a major supplier to the U.S. market. As the business thrived, operations expanded into Europe and Australia.

Barry's leasing company became an industry leader prior to its sale to Chase Manhattan Bank in 1986. After completing a one-year commitment with Chase, Barry returned to the Orscheln Group as its Chief Financial Officer in 1987.

1990s - 2000s

Back To Their Roots

 

Barry became president of Orscheln Industries in 1990 and today oversees Orscheln’s widely diversified enterprises.

In 2004, Bob's company, Orbseal, was sold to German conglomerate Henkel International. Bob later took over the helm as president of Orscheln Products L.L.C.

2017

Celebrating 100 years!

 

One hundred years later, and still family operated! Both grandsons of William (Bill) Orscheln, Barry and Bob, remain hard at work today.

We are the

ORSCHELN FAMILY

Orscheln has always been a family affair.

What started with two brothers has thrived to today's third and fourth generation descendants.

 

"My grandfather and his brothers were willing to take significant risk to build this business to what it is today."

 

- Bob Orscheln, CEO of Orscheln Products, L.L.C.

Our employees are dedicated to local and global outreach.

Whether it's the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, a United Way employee/company matched event, or an overseas Orscheln Europe Bikethon fundraiser, our employees push to help those in need.

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We celebrate our veterans, our neighbors, and our loved ones.

Every Memorial Day, Orscheln Industries helps recognize the efforts and sacrifices of our veterans by supporting the raising of over 400 American flags in the community.

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We focus on education.

Orscheln Industries wants the focus to be on the future. We sponsor many scholarships, encourage employee participation in local schools, and reach out to colleges and vocational-technical schools to help students learn their true potential for greatness in today's workplace.

Mobility Worldwide recognizes Orscheln Products.

Orscheln Products was recently recognized for their hand in helping production services of Personal Energy Transportation (PET) vehicles.

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Orscheln Industries is proud to announce its many local, employee powered accomplishments.

We care about

COMMUNITY

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