Column: Globe Machine Company was a mighty versatile firm

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 12, 2002

Before I attempt to feature the history and activities of the Globe Machine & Mfg. Co. of Albert Lea, maybe a definition of the word versatile would help.

My copy of the dictionary says the word versatile can be described as &uot;capable of doing many things well.&uot;

The even more reliable Roget’s Thesaurus says versatile is synonymous with the concept of many-sided or multi-faceted. And this last part was certainly true of the Globe firm, plus the local building once used by this company.

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Jesse W. Neitzel of Albert Lea started making a horse-drawn harrow cart in 1921 which was reportedly his own creation. Two years later he built a factory building for his new business at 724 W. Clark St., near the M. & St. L. Railroad crossing.

I have no idea as to what a harrow cart is supposed to look like. Anyway, within a few years this implement or whatever was made obsolete by the tractor. Here’s where Neitzel showed how Globe could be a versatile firm. He switched to making a special vise based on his idea of how to help welders set up pieces of metal for welding.

It wasn’t long before Neitzel’s firm was involved with sheet metal work. Globe was making and selling poultry equipment like metal nest boxes, feeders and waterers. The firm was also producing a line of barn ventilators which was made to order for another firm.

By 1938 the Globe firm had 10 employees and was involved in an even wider array of products and services.

One was the Green Colonial line of furnaces. These home and business heating units were then available in gas, oil, coal and coal stoker fired versions.

The 1941-42 city directory lists Globe as the area agents for Evinrude and Elto outboard boat motors.

One of the most unusual products to be produced by the Globe firm was described in the Aug. 15, 1938, issue of the Tribune with:

&uot;New ideas pop into the minds of inventive people all the time, and one of these came to Mr. Neitzel. He developed a new kind of malted milk machine, one that delivers the half frozen delicious product right from the machine, cup by cup, as wanted, and keeps it just right for hours. These locally made machines have been most successful. They look like a fine white enameled refrigerator.&uot;

This malted milk machine resulted in the creation of a new firm for Neitzel named the Globe Fountain Freezer Co.

Still another distinctively different product from this versatile firm in the 1930s and early ’40s was the Globe Electric Fence Controller.

My favorite Globe product to really show versatility comes from their ad in the March 1941 issue of the Albert Lea Community Magazine. It said:

&uot;Small green caterpillar or so-called needle miner threatens termination of evergreen trees. We have prepared a special spray material which has been tested and used during the past two years with satisfactory results. We will examine your trees without obligation.&uot;

The last entry for the Globe firms I can find is in the 1941-42 city directory. I have been unable to locate more information regarding Jesse W. Neitzel, or if other companies continued on with the variety of products and services created by Globe, especially the malted milk machine.

However, the brick building constructed for J. W. Neitzel and the Globe firm in 1923 is still a part of the city at 724 W. Clark St.

In the mid-1940s, this building was acquired by Land O’Lakes Creameries and used as an egg drying plant. Then the place became the U.S. Army Reserve Training Center. Next, to help stress the variety of uses for this building, it became the address for Arnold Plumbing and Heating. For a few years the Gateway Cooperative Center used the place for vocational education activities. The present occupant of the former Globe building is Jim and Dude’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning.

Tribune feature writer Ed Shannon’s column appears Fridays in the Tribune.