History of the Chester, NY, facility
From Chester Cable Corporation to Nexans
Mr. Malcolm R. White began manufacturing cable in New York City in 1940. By 1941, he had established the White Electrical Cable Company at Haverstraw, NY.
Mr. White purchased the land and building at 25 Oakland Avenue and officially founded Chester Cable Corporation on August 15. The business began with 15 employees. The original floor space was 10K square feet on 2 floors. The building started out as the Chester “New School”, built following a devastating fire in 1906 that destroyed the Chester Academy. The “New School” as it was called, was completed in 1907 and functioned as a school until 1937.
Another fire destroyed the factory, but Mr. White rebuilt and continued operating the business.
Cows used to graze in the backyard of the Chester Cable Corporation plant!
From a local news article about Chester Cable Corporation: “about 20 percent of production is for the armed forces...some cable goes into jet aircraft, and electronics and radar installations. Other products range from normal consumer items, such as bell and office wires, television and radio wiring to the complicated cables and wiring in the aircraft carrier Forrestal.” Forrestal carriers were designed and built for the U.S. Navy in the 1950s.
The plant underwent a 60,000 SF expansion to add modern cable processing equipment. Machines were installed to do wire drawing, bunching, cabling, tanning and stranding. Facilities for extrusion and insulation of heavier type conductors and cables were installed. Plant size was now 75K square feet; future plans included the addition of a wire drawing foundry plant, and the company looked forward to doubling its output by 1959.
Chester produced conductors for ground units for the Gemini space program and for the Polaris submarine project. A change of ownership made Chester a division of Tennessee Corporation, which was then a subsidiary of City Service Corporation (CITGO). Until this change, Chester primarily produced conventional electric wire and simple cable. CITGO, a major domestic petroleum marketer, redirected the company to focus on electronics. By 1971, more than 80 percent of its production would be multi-colored cable as used in New York’s computerized traffic control system and other complex instrumentation.
Between 1963-1971, business grew by 250 percent. Where the general trend at the time was toward standardization, minimizing the number of product models, Chester proudly boasted “customized production.”
The facility received a 63K SF expansion. Major products of the city of Chester at this time were onions, milk, apples, meat, and wire and cable.
Chester provided cable for televising the Olympics in Grenoble, France, for the ABC Television Company. More than 88K feet of cable was used to transmit video and pulse information from cameras placed along steep mountain slopes.
Chester’s products now comprised everything from single strand copper wire with a plastic insulator coating to complex shipboard cables. Chester was not manufacturing any power cable at this time, but did make hookups for home appliances such as television sets and cable for sophisticated medical equipment, such as x-ray machines and nuclear accelerators.
The company manufactured copper wire and cable products for RCA, Motorola, Zenith and other companies in the electrical / electronics industries with annual sales of over $25 million.
Chester got approval for a $3.5 million addition to produce high temperature wire and cable. Chester cable, the town’s largest private employer, called itself “a leader in specialty wire and cable for the electronic, industrial and military markets,” making 13,000 different products with annual sales of over $30 million.
Chester sought to enter the high technology market. As part of the program, the company added 4K SF to its plant and renovated existing space to increase the manufacturing area by 15K SF. The project involved more than $3 million in new equipment. The end of the line was a special lightweight cable used in airplanes, computers and satellites.
A series of mergers and name changes finally resulted in the creation of Alcatel NA of which Chester was a subsidiary company.
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