Let's start from the beginning...

In the issue dated Saturday, April 1, 1916, writers for the publication ‘The American Contractor’ ran an article about Merchant & Evan’s 50th Anniversary. (Pictured right) Since the original is a little tough to read, we decided to share the story here, as written in 1916.

We added some pictures from the Merchant & Evans vault to help tell the story.

The American Contractor (April 1, 1916)
Lieutenant-Commander Clark Merchant
The American Contractor
Issue 37 – Saturday, April 1, 1916
Merchant & Evans 50th Anniversary

An anniversary is a notable event in the history of any business, but the 50th anniversary of an organization like the Merchant & Evans Company should directly interest the metal trade and its allied industries.

In 1866, Clark Merchant, who had distinguished himself in the United States Navy, and retired with the rank of Lieutenant-Commander, established the business in Philadelphia as Merchant & Company, dealing principally in brass, bronze and copper in all its forms as then manufactured, and trading also in tin plates and other metals that were imported from England or other foreign countries.

Merchant & Company, Inc.

Under this able management, the business expanded wonderfully, and soon necessitated removal to larger quarters. At this time, the heaviest importation of Merchant & Company was in roofing Tins, and chiefly of the brand known as “Gilbertson’s Old Method” which far exceeded the sales of any other brand sold in the United States.

After the McKinley tariff went into effect, the English makers of “Gilbertson’s Old Method” brand desired to reduce the weight of the coating that had been so rigidly guaranteed by Merchant & Company, and rather than force an inferior tin on the trade, Merchant & Company gave up the agency for this tin, and decided to erect a dipping plant in Philadelphia to produce plates in this country of equal or better quality. As a result, the “Merchant’s Old Method” brand of Roofing Tin was placed on the market and found to be of distinctly better quality than the “Gilbertson’s Old Method” brand, in fact so markedly superior, that in a relatively short time, the sale of the “Gilbertson’s Old Method” brand in this country declined, and finally ceased altogether.

The continued growth of the business made it necessary to open branch offices and warehouses at several important points in the United States, and enlarge the line of metal products. The co-partnership of Merchant & Company was also changed to a corporation, under the style of Merchant & Company, Inc., with Clark Merchant as its president. This style continued until the death of Mr. Merchant, after which Powell Evans assumed control of the business, which is now conducted under the name Merchant & Evans Company.

Powell Evans is an engineer of international experience and seeing the possibilities available to manufacturers of gasoline propelled vehicles and parts therefor, long before the present European war created such a tremendous demand for motor trucks – added to the already extensive line of metal products handled by Merchant & Evans Company – Automotive Clutches, Alignment-joints, Rear axles, Jackshaft Transmissions, Grease Cups, Metal Tire Cases, and finally completely erected Gasoline Motor Trucks and Tractor Trucks.

Mr. Powell Evans
Merchant & Evans, Co., Inc. - Warwood, WV Plant

Mr. Evans is widely known as one of the best posted men in fire prevention and protection affairs in the country, and is chairman of the Fire Prevention Committee of the Chamber of Commerce of United States, the National Hardware Association, and the Fire Prevention Commission of the City of Philadelphia.

During the existence of the old International Sprinkler Company, of which he was president, he designed and marketed very large quantities of Sprinkler Heads, Valves, and other approved Automatic Sprinkler Devices. Quite recently, he secured Laboratory approval of an Almetl type of Fire Door.

The large amount of business secured for automobile parts, and the increased demand for the brands of Tin and Terne Plates made by this company, necessitated building a new modern tin plate mill, and this was erected at Warwood, W. Va., (a suburb of Wheeling) where thousands of boxes of high-grade Roofing and Bright Plates are turned out annually.

This company now has plants in Philadelphia, Wheeling and Chicago, and offices and warehouses in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago and Kansas City, with a large force of traveling representatives. It not only covers the entire United States, but is conducting an export business of increasing volume.

Article courtesy of The American Contractor, F.W. Dodge Corporation, 1916.

Over the next several decades, Merchant & Evans Company, Inc. continued to establish themselves as a leader in innovation in the metal forming industry – particularly in roofing panels and accessories.

In 1964, just a few years shy of the 100th anniversary of Merchant & Evans Co., Inc., the company unveiled their newest sheet metal innovation – the ZIP-RIB structural roofing system. Keeping up with demand for a more modern roofing system, this new product quickly became the flagship product as the company ventured into the late 20th century.

Through the 1970’s and 80’s, M&E Co. would add a number of metal roofing and wall systems to their offering to keep up with a growing demand for new architectural styles. During this time, the engineering team would continue to test and improve the ZIP-RIB system, now a premier structural panel in the industry.

Many of the first ZIP-RIB roofs are still in tact today over 50 years later. While the finish warranty may have expired, this time tested structural roof system is still holding strong.


Check out the Army Street Terminal in San Francisco (left), there are still a few original ZIP-RIB roofs standing!

The Lash Terminal in San Francisco (left), originally installed in 1972 is still holding strong as well.

In the 21st century M&E Co. has continued their tradition of innovation, working with designers on many high-profile projects across the United States including Apple Park, LAX and more. These challenging projects sharpened and enhanced the manufacturing and engineering capabilities of the M&E team, now headquartered in Burlington, New Jersey.

Now an integral part of our team, we look forward to working with Merchant & Evans Company, Inc. to sustain their great tradition of engineering and manufacturing excellence.

Stay tuned for more M&E, Co. product integrations into the IMETCO offering as we establish our partnership. We look forward to bringing new innovations to the metal cladding market, as we continue into the future together.

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