OSMO Tannery (1933-1989)
As a part of his duties at the Tauber Woolen Mill, Walter Pfeiffer traveled and visited many businesses that were associated or enhanced the woolen trade. On one such trip to Cleveland, Ohio in 1932, Walter met and toured the OSMO Manufacturing Company owned by Oskar Most. His business was in the tanning and production of items made from sheep hides.
Most had come to the US in late 1920s and had operated the business in Cleveland for about 2 years. He was interested in locating in a smaller community where costs might be lower. Pfeiffer convinced him to visit Spartansburg and move his business here. In 1933, with Pfeiffer as a partner, Oskar Most moved his family and business to the site of the Tauber Mill that had burned in 1928.
A 28×40 building was constructed and specialized machines were moved from Cleveland and installed. Most’s brother, George became a partner in the business and returned to the family home in Germany to study and learn changes that the family had made to the tanning process that they had developed. When he returned to Spartansburg that updated process was implemented. The secret process allowed the articles to remain pliable and strong even when they were repeatedly used in hot water and chemicals. Items manufactured included: polishing brushes, wool sponges, hides for coats and clothing for aviators, sheepskin shoes and chair bottoms.
Products from OSMO became quite well known and the plant often employed 15-20 people in production.
In 1934, Most bought out Pfeiffer’s interest in the business. Most encouraged local purchase of sheep skins, but over the years of operation there proved not to be enough skins available so he began to purchase from several areas worldwide.
Expansion of the business caused a move from the Tauber site at the end of Mechanic Street to the recently vacated buildings of Supplee-Wills-Jones Milk Plant at the Clear Lake end of Water Street in 1944 (this had been the site of the Edwards Woolen Mill in early 1900). OSMO, at this time, sold only to dealers and did not have a consumer purchase location.
This article from 1951 describes the unusual process and products made by the tannery.
In 1959, Oscar sold the business to AC Benninger from Tionesta, Joseph Jawdy from Franklin and JE Daugherty from Oil City. They maintained the business name and incorporated. Oscar stayed on with the business as a consultant. Once the purchase was finalized they began an expansion program, building a 1500 square foot addition and launching a nationwide advertisement campaign. At the time they purchased it, the business employed only 2 full-time workers. Within a short time, advertising garnered enough new orders that the staff was increased to 13.
OSMO, along with Morris Handle Company, featured their products at the 1959 Spartansburg fair. Morris provided the handles necessary for some of the OSMO products.
Titusville Herald news article showing some of the manufacturing process. You may be asked to register for a trial subscription to see this information
Also in 1959, they began to offer promotional items for companies to brand with their company information and use as give-aways. Once such was the handee buffer which was a small buffing piece in its own case. An airline company purchased these to use to promote their business.
The same people who purchased OSMO in 1959, purchased the woolen mill in 1960 and began an advertising campaign there as well (See the post on the woolen mill)
Business grew for a few years under the new management and they purchased a storefront on the southeast corner of Mechanic and Main Street to use for expansion of the business. In 1962, the Spartansburg Senior Class sold some OSMO products as a fund-raiser for their class activities.
In 1964, the property and business was purchased by George Dernar from Wattsburg. He ran the business (for a few years it was owned by the Corry Bank) under the OSMO name and RanRed Corporation. Under Dernar, the products were sold to the public as well as to a few continuing dealers.
Dernar invited news media to tour the plant and a 1972 article (osmo1972article), once again, was run to promote the business.
Dernar retired in 1989 and the property was sold but the manufacturing business ended. There were some products remaining that were sold off and the building became a residence.
What remains of the building is visible when walking the trail north from Dutch Treat.