All of the current Fisher companies trace their beginnings to a horse-drawn
carriage shop in Norwalk, Ohio in the late 1800's. The shop was owned and
operated by Alfred J. Fisher's grandfather and it was where A.J.'s father
and uncles learned their trade.
In 1904 and 1905, two of the brothers came to Detroit, Michigan to work in the first "horseless carriage" body shops. In 1908 they decided to go into business for themselves as the Fisher Body Company.
In the early years of the company, the Fisher Brothers had to develop new body designs because the "horseless carriage" bodies did not have the strength to withstand the vibrations of the new motorcars. By 1913, the Fisher Body Company had the capacity to produce 100,000 cars per year and customers included: Ford, Krit, Chalmers, Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Studebaker. Part of the reason for their success was the development of interchangeable wooden body parts that did not have to be hand-fitted, as was the case in the construction of carriages. This required the design of new precision woodworking tools.
In 1916 the Company became the Fisher Body Corporation. Its capacity was now 370,000 bodies per year and its customers included Abbot, Buick, Cadillac, Chalmers, Chandler, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Churchfield, Elmore, EMF, Ford, Herreshoff, Hudson, Krit, Oldsmobile, Packard, Regal, and Studebaker.
The rest of the seven Fisher brothers, including our Chairman's father, came to Detroit and joined their brothers at various times as they came of age.
From its beginning in the "horseless carriage shop" in Norwalk, Ohio, to its sale in 1919 and 1926 to General Motors, the Fisher Body Company was built by the Fisher brothers into one of the World's largest manufacturing companies.
The company owned 160,000 acres of timberland and used more wood, carpet, tacks, and thread than any other manufacturer in the world. It had more than forty plants and employed more than 100,000 people, and pioneered many improvements in tooling and automobile design including closed all-weather bodies.
Fisher Body's contribution to the war effort in both World War I and World War II included both the production of airplanes and tanks. Alfred J. Fisher was Aircraft Director for Fisher Body.
On August 14, 1944, the Fisher brothers resigned from General Motors to devote their time to other interests, including the magnificent Fisher building on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit.
On January 19, 1972, the last of the original Fisher brothers died. The seven brothers left a legacy that will long be remembered. They donated millions of dollars to schools, churches, and other charitable causes, founded orphanages, nursing and old-age homes, and were active in directing those endeavors.
Alfred J. Fisher, one of the seven Fisher brothers, had three sons: Alfred J. Fisher, Jr., Robert C. Fisher, Walter W. Fisher. In 1947, with the help and encouragement of their father, they started a new business. They began to manufacture metal stampings at a plant located in Ferndale, Michigan. The business was called Alrowa Metal Products from the names of the three brothers (AL-fred, RO-bert, WA-lter).
Early customers included Cadillac, Detroit Transmission, Chevrolet, Inland, Fisher Body, Ford and Chrysler. Among the products made at that time were transmission components, ash trays, outside trim parts, brake bands, and metal fasteners. During the Korean War, the company made parts for rocket launchers.
In 1953, the growing business needed additional space. Property was purchased on Maple Road in Troy, Michigan and construction of a new building began. In 1956 the company moved all operations from Ferndale to Troy. The name was changed from Alrowa Metal Products to Fisher Industries. In the years that followed, the business continued to grow.
One of the most challenging projects of the early years was the design and construction of new custom high speed stamping presses. These "Fisher Presses" greatly increased our ability to quickly produce the metal fasteners that our customers wanted. Another major project was the installation of "heat treat" furnaces. We found that doing it ourselves gave us greater control over the quality of the finished product.
Through all those years, A.J., Bob, and Walter Fisher demanded the best from everybody in the organization. Their employees responded, and as a result, the business prospered.
In the early 60's there was increased public pressure to improve automobile safety, which resulted in laws requiring the installation of seat belts. In 1965, General Motors needed additional sources to supply the millions of safety belts required for the driver side and the front seat passenger side. Because of Fisher Corporation's experience in metal stamping and its long association as a GM supplier, we were given the opportunity to bid on a portion of that new business. Upon being awarded the business, we elected to create a new company ... and General Safety was born. Our first customer was Cadillac. A plant was leased on Ten Mile road in East Pointe, Michigan, equipment was purchased, people were hired and trained, and production began in the summer of 1965.
In 1973, Alfred J. Fisher III was honorably discharged from the Army Paratroopers and became part of the team. In 1980, Michael Fisher Graduated from Georgetown University and came to work. Walter and Bob Fisher subsequently sold their interests in the companies to A.J. Fisher and his family.
The requirement for another automobile safety item surfaced in the late ‘70’s: a device to prevent the back of the front seat from flying forward in crash situations. This resulted in the development of the seat-back latch and the birth of Fisher Dynamics in 1980.
In 1995, General Safety was sold to AlliedSignal, who maintained the seatbelt operations for a few years as part of their automotive safety restraint group. AlliedSignal ultimately sold its entire restraint division to Breed Technology in 1997.
After the sale of General Safety, the Corporate identity was changed to Fisher & Company. The new Company was comprised of Fisher Corporation and Fisher Dynamics. Al Fisher, III became President of Fisher & Company, his brother Michael retained the Presidency of Fisher Dynamics and Alfred J. Fisher, Jr. continued as Chairman of the Corporation.
As we moved into the new millennium, Fisher & Company continued to grow. Fisher Corporation acquired the property next door for much needed expansion, and welcomed Alfred J. Fisher IV as Vice President. Fisher Dynamics purchased the property of three neighboring companies and now has six plants in the St. Clair Shores campus.