E.T. Rugg Company
Originating in Alexandria, Ohio in 1883, the E. T. Rugg Company began as a small family business located above a general store. Ephraim T. Rugg began by making rope products including cow ties and horse halters. Ephraim and his siblings, Amy Rush and John Sherman Rugg, were partners in the general store.
As the business grew and needed a larger space near the railroad, the E. T. Rugg Company moved to Sisal Street (named for a type of plant fiber used in making rope) in Newark. Picking up the reins of the business after Ephraim’s death in 1922, his brother, Thomas Mortimer Rugg, ran the company for a short time until his death in 1930. The company remained in the family, as S. Howard Rugg took over his father Thomas’ company for the next 33 years.
The company expanded its product lines in 1926 by adding packing and oakum to their manufactured products. More notably, Rugg purchased a hand mower line from the Thomas Manufacturing Company in 1930. Additional buildings were added to the growing Sisal Street business, but the company was forced to stop making mowers as the company temporarily switched their production in support of the war. They added M-3 anti-personnel mines and increased their rope manufacturing lines for the military.
After S. Howard’s son, Thomas Howard Rugg, joined the company after World War II, the company returned to making hand mowers, and in 1949 added power mowers. Other types of mowers, including riding lawn mowers were added to their products until the Rugg Company was among the most successful lawn mower manufacturers in the United States. The company was producing up to 175,000 lawn mowers yearly by 1968 from the Sisal Street location and through the Roper Corporation in Newark. The company employed almost 300 people at its facility. Thomas H. Rugg became president of the company in 1963 and his father, S. Howard Rugg died in 1966.
The company became a division of the Columbus-based Mid-Con Corporation in 1968. Mid-Con merged with a larger company, A. T. O. Incorporated in 1969. The company was closed in 1973.
- Jeff Bell, “A Family Plant: the E.T. Rugg Co,” The Advocate, August 4, 1991, 1D.