General Bindery was probably the second largest bindery in Philadelphia. I believe Smith Edwards Dunlap would be the largest. When you came into the large factory my impression was always that a jet airplane could fit in there! They said you could see some old trolley rails in the cement floor as it once was a building to repair trolleys.
It was a union shop but I say that loosely. To the contrary of all the union agreements you could find some operators running the machines for years as "helpers." I worked a year and a half learning and running the Muller stitchers as a "helper." When I complained to the Union I didn't run the machines anymore and left.
It was always rumored who owned General Bindery. When they bought Sam Bless Bindery I remember the girls singing the TV commercial at the time "Sooner or later you'll own General." Anyway I had to get that in. The story told for years was that a supermarket chain in England owned General Bindery. Later on someone said that Panasonic owned it.
In the late 70s and early 80s they were a show case on the east coast for MBO folders. They had a muller model NB2S binder with an Alpine trimmer.
They had chain link fences to divide areas. There were telephones so that the machines never stopped. You would call over the intercom, "I need a relief girl" when a lady helper had to use the bathroom. You also called for more work to be brought to your machine. I can almost still hear Jim Wertz, who worked on the Rapid trimmer, calling over the intercom, "One in, one out, at the Rapid." He'd say that very "rapidly."
General Bindery was located at 300 West Hunting Park Avenue in Philadelphia which was not a nice area. I remember an older lady who I worked with stopping off at the corner gas station store before our shift and being hit over the head with a pipe and having her pocket book stolen. She only had a few years until she was to retire but that took the wind out of her sails and she left to live with her daughter down south soon afterward.
General Bindery later merged with Hartman Bindery in Pennsauken, NJ to form GH Alliance.
From a Harris manufacturing directory- GENERAL BINDERY CO INC Phone 215 457-2515, 300 W Hunting Park Ave Philadelphia. PA (19140) Pres: John Shea V P: D Colgan V P Opers: Ronald Orehowsky
Information from an email-
I found your bindery history and found it quite interesting. I was the controller at General which then became GH Alliance. GH subsequently went out of business while owned by Jack Shea.
To clarify the ownership of General;
It was started by Art Shoyer shortly after WW 2. As legend has it, he liked the name General Electric and used it to name his bindery.
As part of Shoyer's retirement plan he wanted to sell the bindery. A privately held holding company called CAWSL Corp bought General and eventually put Jack Shea in charge.
In the late '90's Rod Rothermel was put in charge and merged General with Hartman bindery creating GH Alliance. Rod was eventually fired and the company was purchased by Jack Shea. It had a good run until Jack and I parted ways in 2002. The next year the company went out of business.
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