Lumbering, tanning, and agriculture flourished in St. Marys in the 1870’s but began to decline around the turn of the century. At the same time, however, the establishment of the Speer Carbon Company gave the area’s carbon/graphite industry its start.
By 1940, Stackpole Carbon Company, Keystone Carbon Company, Pure Carbon Company, and St. Marys Carbon Company were also successfully manufacturing carbon/graphite products. St. Marys was on the cutting edge of carbon/graphite manufacturing and was aptly called the “Carbon Capital of the World”.
With the advent of WWII, manufacturing materials for the carbon industry were strictly controlled by the War Production Board. Many carbon products developed in St. Marys, such as the high altitude brush by Stackpole Carbon Company, played key roles in the war effort.
The Birth of Powder Metallurgy
Many of the processes and technologies developed in the St. Marys carbon industry were readily applicable to the evolution of the powdered metal parts industry that began in the post-war period.
Today about 40% of the world’s powdered metal parts are produced in north central Pennsylvania for applications in the automotive industry, lawn and garden products, home appliances, and more. Approximately 56 powder metallurgy manufacturing firms provide employment for over 10,000 people. Many of these manufacturers can trace their roots to St. Marys industry. The region is now known as the “Powdered Metal Capital of the World.”
As powder metallurgy part manufacturers flourished, related businesses have kept pace. Machine shops produce tools necessary to press parts and perform secondary operations such as heat treating and plating. Both powder metal warehousing and recycling companies are located in the region to provide the necessary raw materials. Pennsylvania has the largest sales volume of both metal powder and manufactured parts in the US powder metal market.
Diverse Industrial Opportunities
Today the St. Marys area offers diverse industrial opportunities.
LEDVANCE is the largest manufacturer (based on volume) of incandescent lamps in the world. At their St. Marys facility they can produce up to two million lamps per day and 500 million lamps per year. Their product line includes 1,700 different lamp types for use in homes and industry.
The international award-winning STRAUB BREWERY, a family-owned macro-brewery, was founded in 1872 by German immigrant Peter Straub and is the third oldest brewery in the U.S. Today the brewery operates at near capacity of 40,000 barrels annually. The company produces five year-round brews: Straub American Lager, Straub American Light Lager, Straub American Amber Lager, IPL, and 1872 Pre-Prohibition Lager, as well as a growing portfolio of craft beers. The historic brewery, and especially its iconic Eternal Tap, is a popular tourist attraction. Fodor’s Travel named Straub Brewery one of the “5 Best Places in America to Drink American Beer.”