Morton Machine Works was founded in 1939 by Arch Morton and his wife Margaret in Ferndale, Michigan. After quitting school at the age of 13, Arch Morton began working as an apprentice in a local machine shop in St. Catherine’s, Ontario.
After their marriage, Arch and Margaret moved to several cities where he continued to work as a machinist and shop hand. These cities included Warren OH, Salem OH, Elwood City PA, and Meadville, PA …all before finally settling in Ferndale, Michigan.
Because of the lack of steady employment, Arch found that working for others as a machinist was unsatisfactory. So he and Margaret would often discuss going into a service station business together. Their plan would be that he would operate the repair and service end of the business, while Margaret would keep the books and take charge of the lunch counter which they intended to have at the service station.
Early in 1939, Arch and Margaret were approached by a neighbor, Glen Wright, who was part owner of Pratt-Wright Screw Product Company. He urged them to open a machine shop of their own and he promised to give them work from his company to help them get started.
So in 1939 Arch quit his job as a machinist and he and Margaret decided to open up a small machine shop where he would be in charge of operating the machines and Margaret would have responsible for the administrative end of the business. They had no assets to fund the new venture, but they were able to borrow $648 from a local bank to buy second hand equipment that included a lathe, mill, drill press, shaper, and metal saw. The machines were moved into the garage and basement of their home in Ferndale, MI and the business began under the name “A. Morton.” That first year of operation the new venture saw sales of $5,076. The company was located in their home until 1942 when a new building was erected three blocks away and the business became known as Morton Machine Works.
In 1955 Arch and Margaret Morton sold the business to Brubaker Tool Corporation. Morton Machine Works was then relocated to central Pennsylvania and added to the existing cutting tool facility that Brubaker operated in Millersburg, PA.
In 1991, after many years of successful operation as a division of Brubaker Tool, Morton Machine Works was sold to Alvord-Polk Inc. Alvord-Polk Inc., who is also a cutting tool manufacturer, had been very familiar with the Morton product line over the years because it was located just two blocks from the Brubaker Tool facility. Moving the machinery and inventory 600 feet down the street proved to be one of the easiest factory moves ever conceived!
In recent years, Morton Machine Works has expanded into a 37,000 sq. ft. facility in nearby Elizabethville, PA in addition to the ongoing operations at the factory in Millersburg, PA. Today Morton’s products are sold throughout the world to Distributors, OEM’s, and Machine Shops. Looking back over the 75+ years of history for Morton Machine Works, we are reminded of the humble beginnings and the challenges that faced Arch and Margaret. The foundation they built their company on back then was hard work, determination, and seeking to please the customer. It is a business philosophy that has served Morton Machine Works well through the years.