When D-Day took place on June 6, 1944, America had already been at war for two and a half long years. By then almost 11.4 million U.S. men and women were serving our country in the military here and abroad.
Americans remaining at home had mobilized to support the war effort in a variety of ways. Women, young and old entered the work force in large numbers and teenagers dropped out of school to take full or part-time jobs. Unemployment in the US had dropped in 1944 to a record low of 1.4%!
Whip Mix had a small but growing business in the late 1930’s as the country slowly recovered from the Great Depression. With the start of U.S. involvement in WWII following Pearl Harbor, the company was prevented from conducting business as usual by the rationing of supplies by the newly-formed War Production Board established by Executive Order on January 16, 1942. Essentially, only manufacturers of things vital to the war effort were allowed access to raw materials. Without government supply contracts, Whip Mix suddenly had no future.
Fortunately our founder, Ed Steinbock Sr., realized that the Company’s expertise in the area of precision dental castings, knowledge learned over twenty plus years in making and supplying our materials and equipment to dental labs could provide a way for the company to stay alive while supporting the war efforts. After many meetings with investors, key Whip Mix team members and the local office of the War Production Board, Whip Mix was granted a government contract to produce small, intricate, precision-cast metal industrial parts needed in the production of military aircraft components. The company began to make its own casting waxes, gas burnout ovens, wax pattern molds, flasks and industrial refractory casting investments (like our jewelry investment). Other needed equipment for casting was able to be acquired gradually as production ramped up. Today, there is a photo collage next to the elevator at the entrance to the Robert Neiman Research Laboratory that pictures the entire casting process and the Whip Mix men and women team members involved. Mr. Neiman was a key person in making this new venture a success. He invented many improvements in making the patterns, none of which were patented and many of which are still used in the industry.
By June 6, 1944, the production from our plant was so important to the big aircraft assembly plants in California that the most critical parts were loaded on a military C-47 Skytrain plane that landed at Louisville Bowman Field daily on its way across the continent.
There are some examples of these castings in the museum case in the Neiman Research Lab. In my early years at Whip Mix, I would bring plant visitors to the lab and Mr. Neiman would point out the Norden Bombsight and P-51 Mustang machine gun parts with great pride and patriotism.
Today, on this 70th anniversary of D-Day, we at Whip Mix take pride in knowing the part our firm played in supporting our WW II servicemen and servicewomen. Some of them, traversing the dangerous Normandy Beaches that day, owed their lives to parts that originated at a small factory at 411 West Avery Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky.