The Pittsburgh Company was founded in 1897 by Frederick C. Sutter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1910, the Pittsburgh Transformer Company was officially incorporated and boomed during World War 1. In 1927, the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company acquired the firm for $4.5 million and began investing money into renovations and additional buildings. In 1928, the firm was officially part of Allis-Chalmers and renamed the Pittsburgh Works.
Following the acquisition of the Pittsburgh Transformer Co., Allis-Chalmers was under investigation from the Federal Trade Commission. The issue was over whether Allis-Chalmers was in violation of the Clayton Act, which prohibited one firm from acquiring another to eliminate competition and create a monopoly in a product. However, the board dropped the charges after they concluded that no rules were broken with the merger of the two firms. The charges were dropped on the grounds that only 10.6 percent of the transformer sales in the Unites States would be dominated by the Allis-Chalmers & Pittsburgh Transformer Company merger.*1
The Pittsburgh Works built smaller transformer units, while bigger and higher voltage units were manufactured at the West Allis Works. Pittsburgh built 5,000 kva single phase, and 15,000 kva three-phase at 44,000 volts, and also transformers up to 4,000 kva single phase and 12,000 kva three-phase at 66,000 volts.*2
The Pittsburgh Transformer Company proved to be a valuable addition to the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. From 1927-1931, Allis-Chalmers never had sales below $2 million out of the Pittsburgh Works.*3 Allis-Chalmers boasted that every transformer that left the Pittsburgh Works was thoroughly tested before being shipped to the thousands of consumers across the Unites States.
In July 1947, Allis-Chalmers broke ground for a $2 million expansion onto the Pittsburgh Works. The plans called for a new building, called the Columbus Plant, to be erected on a vacant lot next to the existing factory. The addition would add 104,000 square feet to the plant which would surge production by 50% and increase employment by a few hundred people. It was the largest addition, at that time, to the Pittsburgh Works since the firm bought it in 1927. The additions were expected to increase the size of the Pittsburgh Works by 40%.*4
The Pittsburg Works remained an important branch of the AC line for nearly 50 years. The peak employment at the plant was nearly 3,200 workers in 1956.*5 The hard economic conditions of the 1970s brought an end to production at the Pittsburg Works. In spring 1975, nearly 1,000 AC employees lost their jobs when the Pittsburg Works closed and moved production and the remaining equipment to other Allis-Chalmers plants. Company officials said the sellout and closure was due to poor sales in the transformer line and the shift of demand in different parts of the country.
*1 An Industrial Heritage. Walter F. Peterson, pg 217.
*2 Peterson, pg 217.
*3 Peterson, pg 217.
*4 We of Allis-Chalmers. September 1947. Vol 7-No.9, Pgs 2-3.
*5 The Pittsburgh Press – Feb 21, 1975. Pg 2.