Editor’s Note: This is the 370th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
UNTINGTON — During World War II, Huntington’s Polan Industries was a busy place, producing gunsights, periscopes and other optical devices for the nation’s military. After the war, the company struggled and changed hands a couple of times. When its latest parent firm went bankrupt, 200 Huntington workers were left jobless.
But some of the workers refused to give up, banding together to salvage what they could from the wreckage of the company.
B.T. Cheuvront, who had been chief engineer at Polan Industries, and Larry Kress, who had been his assistant, worked hard to get the business started again, tracking down machinery and bidding on contracts. When contracts began to trickle in, the new company was able to hire back some of the former Polan employees.
In 1976, the new company was the low bidder on a $1 million contract to build infrared periscopes that would enable tank crews to see in the dark, but it couldn’t secure the financing necessary to do the job. So the contract went to FJW Industries of Mount Prospect, Illinois, named for its president and part-owner, Frank J. Warzak.
“Warzak called me on the phone and asked me if I’d like to throw in with them,” Cheuvront told The Herald-Dispatch. He and the Huntington firm’s other stockholders agreed to do so, selling to the Illinois company. Doing so enabled the Huntington firm to expand its workforce and move from their cramped quarters at 121 3rd Ave. to a larger building at 611 7th Ave.
Not long after that, when members of Local 260 of the Glass Bottle Blowers Association struck the Huntington plant, FJW Industries closed it.