Residents of Ohio and Michigan were still recovering from the effects of the Civil War in 1868 when the Level Company opened a new paper mill in Tecumseh Michigan, a community 25 miles north of Toledo and the Ohio and Michigan border.
To handle the sales and distribution of the paper from the new mill, George Smith established The Ohio and Michigan Paper Company with its headquarters on St. Clair Street in downtown Toledo, Ohio.
The young company prospered and soon after the turn of the century moved to new quarters on Ontario Street where it operated until it was routed by a disastrous fire in 1914.
The Ohio and Michigan Paper Company survived the fire, moved to temporary quarters and, shortly after the first world war, took over a building on Summit Street, north of downtown Toledo. This four story, river front building which was previously home to The Finley Brewing Company, served as headquarters until 1969 when the then 101 year old firm moved to its present location in the Ampoint Industrial Complex, at the time known as Willis Day Industrial Park, southeast of the city.
Until the move in 1969 the family name most associated with the history of the company was Hegamaster. Frederick D. Hegamaster joined The Ohio and Michigan Paper Company in 1892 as a bookkeeper and with two partners, Vine Depugh Sisson and Ira Garret Winegar, purchased the business in 1902.
Frederick's son Donald Z. Hegamaster joined the firm in 1920 and served as President from 1951 until 1966 when Donald's son Richard became President. Richard Hegamaster died suddenly, not long after the company's 100th anniversary celebration that included the unveiling of plans for the building of the company's present facility.
Ken Leininger, a 20-year veteran in sales with the firm, who had been named Vice President in 1966, took over as president upon the death of Richard Hegamaster in 1969. He purchased the business from the Hegamaster estate, and supervised the move to the new facility later that year.
Prior to the First World War much of The Ohio and Michigan Paper Company business was with neighborhood retailers and included woodenware, wrapping paper and twine for store keepers. Woodenware included bowls of various sizes and cutting boards used in butcher shops and other retail establishments. Grocers would purchase wrapping paper that they would twist into cones to carry sugar, flour, and other household staples. The product line also included oil lamp chimneys, mantels, wicks and burners. When electricity made its way to the area, the salesmen followed with their catalog of vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Supplies arrived by horse-drawn wagons and rail prior to WWI and were delivered the same way. With the advent of the automobile, customers would often make a drive into town on Fridays to claim their purchases.
The Ohio and Michigan Paper Company's industrial products division began operations in 1919 and today accounts for a major portion of its business. The company's printing paper division made its debut in 1924.
Today The Ohio and Michigan Paper Company services its customers from a single story, 65,000 square foot warehouse with 21 foot ceilings, 9 truck bays, 2 rail docks, and 5,000 square feet of office space. The company is EDI, internet, and remote order entry capable. Its fleet of tractor-trailers, straight trucks, and vans delivers products throughout northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan on a daily basis. Through its association with SMA, a nationwide sales network of independent merchant locations, the company can service not only local area firms, but multi-location nationwide and worldwide businesses.
On the 70th anniversary of O & M, Frederick D. Hegamaster commented that, "The long life and progress of any business depends upon the loyalty and ability of its personnel and fidelity of service to its patrons. As in the past, we shall aim to serve our patrons with the standards of merchandise and service that has accounted for the long life of this company."
More than 70 years later, in sight of its 150th anniversary, the business has changed dramatically, but the management and the employees of the company still endorse that philosophy today.
According to current President, Alan Leininger, "If we are to remain in business another 140 plus years, we must constantly seek to improve our ability to provide our present and future customers with the highest quality service and merchandise. In addition we must provide both in a manner that is convenient, efficient, and valued by the customer. That is our mission."