Garvey Reclaims a Piece of Manufacturing History

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Michael Garvey, the president of M7 Technologies, has fond memories of George Whitlock.

When he was a boy, Garvey recalled, he sat on the Whitlock’s knee as his next-door neighbor encouraged him to pick anything he wanted from the four-tiered candy dish in his living room.

That kindness decades ago is among the reasons Garvey was pleased to watch Tuesday as workers brought in and unpacked a complete Youngstown Kitchen set manufactured by his neighbor’s company, Mullins Manufacturing Corp., at the Tyler History Center.

Garvey and his wife, Jeanette, purchased the never-used Youngstown Kitchen set, manufactured by Mullins, and donated it to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. Seven crates filled with the components were delivered to the society’s Tyler Center Tuesday morning.

Whitlock was president and later chairman of Mullins Manufacturing, which had plants in Salem, Warren and Cincinnati and made the Youngstown Kitchens line. Mullins merged with American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp. – better known as American-Standard – in 1955.

Whitlock is “really an icon to the industrial heritage of the Youngstown area,” Garvey said, “so it’s really important to me, having had the wonderful opportunity of growing up next door to him, to have an opportunity to purchase these cabinets and bring them back to Youngstown in his memory.”

“For me, this is the payoff,” said William Lawson, executive director of the history society. “This is why we do what we do as public historians, to have an opportunity like this, to have a community so generous and caring, to see that it comes back here, that we have it as part of our collection in perpetuity.”

Yesterday’s arrival of the installation was the culmination five months’ work, Lawson said. In September, the owner of the set, Ben Casado of Galt, Calif., offered the cabinet set – ordered in 1948 for a kitchen installation that was never completed – for sale.

Posted at the RetroRenovation website, the cabinetry attracted the attention of Christian Rinehart, owner of O’Donold’s Irish Pub, Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts and Mission Taco, who made the first contact with Casado, Lawson said. Learning of the installation’s availability, Garvey called and said he and his wife would buy the set for the history society.

“They were still in their original shipping boxes, sitting in a house since 1948. So this is a very rare and unique opportunity to have something that never came out of the box, that looks almost brand-new from when it was manufactured in Warren in 1948,” Lawson said. “It was a great opportunity for our organization to acquire this set and use it to teach about this part of our local business and industrial history.”

Casado was “really happy that the set was coming back to our historical society to be a part of a museum collection, so he crated it up on his own expense and kept it on his property until we were ready to move it from California to the Mahoning Valley,” he added.

Whitlock lived next door to Garvey’s family in Warren. The businessman often visited his son out of town and on the way back would stop at a candy shop, Garvey recalled. Upon returning home, his neighbor would fill the four-tiered candy dish and ask Garvey’s mother to send the boy over.

“He’d lift me up to his knee and I’d get to point to whatever level of candy I wanted,” Garvey recalled. “”He’d open up the candy dish to that level and he’d just stuff my pockets full of candy and let me go.”

In addition to being a “wonderful gentleman,” Garvey remembered Whitlock as an “extremely brilliant” manufacturing innovator who operated a company that was “second to none.”

During World War II, he said, Mullins developed an extrusion process that allowed the United States to manufacture shells three times faster than Germany. “That significantly increased our ability to defeat the Germans,” he said.

Garvey also recalled something Whitlock stressed to his father: “ ‘It’s not what you pay. It’s what you get for what you pay.’ In other words, don’t be penny wise and pound-foolish.”

B.J. Alan Company Inc. in Warren arranged for transport of the installation from California to Youngstown.

“It’s really a great community and team effort,” Lawson remarked. “We’re so happy to have the set.”

The kitchen set, designed to be L-shaped, includes the sink and has cabinet, a lazy Susan corner cupboard, a shelving unit that includes the General Electric range also purchased but never used, and all of the countertops, similarly unused, he said.

Once the set is built, which will take about two weeks, the history society will have a temporary exhibit in the first-floor main gallery. “Then we will look at how we incorporate it into our exhibit program in the future and also whether we can loan parts of it out, or all of it out, to other historical organizations in our region that would be interested in exhibiting it,” he said.

Pictured: Bill Lawson holds a copy of an old newspaper ad for Mullins’ Youngstown Kitchen. Standing with him is Michael Garvey. One of the kitchen cabinets is between them.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.