Owosso Manufacturing Company

Owosso, Michigan

This company was established in 1884-5 as D. Thompson & Co. and Alvin M. Bentley acted as manager. The company manufactured farm tools and also sold hardware. Bentley bought out Thompson and in the fall of 1886 built a new building and changed the name of the firm to the Owosso Tool Company.

The small factory grew to include two extensive buildings, large lumber yards and railroad side tracks. The company claimed to have one to two million feet of hard wood and pine lumber. Owosso Tool manufactured hay rakes and tool handles and in 1889 began to manufacture door and window screens. In 1891, this company employed 125 to 150 men year around and also manufactured scythe snaths, grain cradles, hayrakes and many other kinds of wood handles.

Owosso Manufacturing Co. in 1884

Looking north from Main St. On the far left is Chipman St. Notice the stacked lumber at (24)

Below is an example of their early all wood snow shovel

As the years passed, with annual increases in business, the company changed it's name to the Owosso Manufacturing Company and continued to build on to it's factory. Located on either side of the Michigan Central Railroad on North Chipman Street, the firm was one of Owosso's largest industries. It was one of the largest screen plants in the United States, their annual output was 1,000,000 window screens, 450,000 screen doors and 180,000 snow shovels. 5,000,000 feet of lumber was used each year.

Here is a snow shovel and the Humpty-Dumpty Egg crate made at Owosso Manufacturing Co.
The egg-crate is marked Owosso, MI and Benton, Arkansas.

Below is a dresser and label that was manufactured in the Benton, Arkansas plant in the 1940's - 50's era. The Owosso, Michigan plant did not manufacture furniture.

The Owosso Mfg. Co. plant of Benton, AR was owned by the Bentley's and included about 300,000 square feet and employed up to 500 workers during the course of it's history. The company was later owned by Woodrow Jones. Once-thriving business that provided a livelihood for hundreds of area residents.

Owosso produced the finest dining room and bedroom furniture in the country. Most of the furniture factories in North Carolina were envious of it because they knew how well it was made. Jones Furniture on Edison was well-known for the chairs and sofas made there.

Bentley was responsible for bringing Reliance Motor Truck to Owosso.

A.M. Bentley also founded the Continental Screen Door Company of Detroit, of which his son Calvin P. Bentley was the president. His grandson, Alvin M. Bentley, served in the U.S. Congress in the 1950's.

In 1953, Owosso Manufacturing and Ionia Manufacturing company merged to become the Mitchell-Bentley Corporation under the leadership of Don Mitchell. On the night of February 11, 1955 a devastating $2,000,000 fire swept through the automotive trim plant of the Mitchell-Bentley Corp., the occupant of the old Owosso Manufacturing building, which was a four-story brick structure that occupied an area equivalent to six square blocks.

The Mitchell Corp. developed station wagon bodies for the auto industry in the 1950's. They became a major supplier of quality automotive interior trim parts including seat cushion covers, door trim panels and bucket seats. Certain Lincoln Continental bodies were built in Owosso and the first Corvette bodies were built here also.

The Mitchell Corp. grew to include several plants through out Michigan, but in 1999 all operations ceased, ending one of Owosso's oldest manufacturing concerns.

Shiawassee County History