Cleveland E. Dodge Jr. was born in New York City on March 7, 1922. He attended the Hotchkiss School and graduated from Princeton University in 1943 with a B.S.E. degree in Mechanical Engineering.
After serving as Commanding Officer of a Motor Torpedo Boat during World War II, he joined the General Electric Company, Schenectady, New York in 1946. During the next five years, his roles at the company included Test Engineer for aircraft jet engines, Construction Supervisor for an installation to test the first jet-powered railroad locomotive, and Methods Supervisor for a screw machine and punch press. Later, as the purchasing agent on GE’s guided missile project, he searched throughout the country for a wire company that could manufacture a wire that wouldn’t burn up under high temperatures. The company that impressed him the most in this quest was the Warren Wire Company of Pownal, Vermont. He went to work for them in 1951, and soon created a “Teflon” coated wire suitable for use in high-temperature applications. Dodge went on to invent other applications for “Teflon” coated wires, and became the Vice President of the company.
Realizing that “Teflon” coatings had an enormous potential, not limited to the wire and cable industry, Mr. Dodge founded his own company, Dodge Fibers Corporation, in Hoosick Falls, New York, in 1955. He assembled a group of local people, many of whom he knew from his work with Warren Wire, who he considered a top-notch team. Bill McMartin was in charge of finances, and Arnold Kuebler was his most talented machinist. Dodge and his research people developed numerous applications for “Teflon” coatings, and within a few years they were one of the leaders of the industry and orders were pouring in from the prosperous aerospace industry.
The original plant was located on Lower John Street. They developed a large range of products which included: Teflon Coated Yarn, Teflon Coated Glass Fabric, “Fluorglass” Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Tapes, Adhesive Tapes of Skived Teflon, Conveyor and Heat Sealing Belts, Spray Coating of Metal Materials with Teflon, Production of Teflon Coated Aluminum Foil
Several divisions created along the way, with associated production plants. The Fluorocarbons Division was formed with the building of a new plant on McCaffrey Street. The plant made extruded tape for manufacturing, packaging and testing, extruded tape gasketing, and fluorglas: Laminates
In June1956, Dodge Fibers contracted with the Permacel Division of Johnson & Johnson to make adhesive coated copper and dry film adhesives. The joint effort was incorporated in 1960 as the Circuit Materials Corporation, which in 1964 became a division of Dodge Fibers. A technical breakthrough achieved in 1963 allowed the company to a quality of adhesive coated copper sheet which was much in demand. At the same time, the division developed a method for producing a good quality of copper Mylar laminate, which was used in printed circuits, particularly for automobile dashboards and telephone receivers. The company became extremely successful.
In April 1962, the Dodge Machine and Tool Company was started. It designed, built and sold two types of machinery. One was machinery used in the insulation of wire and cable. The other group of machinery was concerned with packaging and with the printing on and decorating of packages.
The work force of the Dodge Fibers Corporation grew from one in 1955 to 177 by the summer of 1965 with a payroll of more than $800,000. The company also had plants in West Warwick and Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and was associated with factories in France, England and Japan.
By the mid-sixties, Dodge Industries was so successful that many large companies became interested in buying the business. It was sold to Oak Electronetics Inc. in 1967. Though Mr. Dodge expected to remain in control of his own division after the sale, he was soon squeezed out by management people in Oak’s headquarters in Illinois. When Oak divested Dodge’s machine tool operation, he left Oak and took over Dodge Machine Company, which still operates on Church Street in Hoosick Falls. They produce safety grips and other safety equipment used by window washers on high-rise buildings.
Since then, the plants of Oak-Mitsui, AlliedSignal and Furon have been an important part of the work force of Hoosick Falls. The opening of Dodge Fibers in Hoosick Falls in 1955, by Mr. Dodge, provided jobs for many people in this area over the course of the last 45 years. He was largely responsible for the economic rebirth of the Village of Hoosick Falls from the 1950s to the present time.
Cleveland Dodge was married in 1942 to Phyllis Boushall in Princeton, New Jersey. They have three children that live in London, Montreal and Arlington, Vermont. Mr. Dodge and his wife live in Pownal, Vermont.
Compiled by Philip Leonard