J-Lenco, Inc. had its humble beginnings in the dirt floor garage behind Ed and Nancy Murphy’s house, which was located at 428 North Prospect Street in Marion, Ohio. In 1969, Jack Midlam, who owned General Castings, approached Ed and asked if he would make some cores for him. Ed told Jack that he didn’t have a way to make cores, but he couldn’t get Jack’s request out of his mind and before long, Ed was at the junk yard looking for pieces and parts to build a machine. Ed came home with heating elements from a stove, a radiator hose, a valve and a piece of rubber. He then went about making the first of many core machines! He called Jack to tell him he was ready to make cores and before long, Ed was blowing small, intricate burner tip cores and J-Lenco was on it’s way.
The word got out and before long, Ed was making burner tip cores for General and pin cores for Alloy Cast Steel. Ed made these cores after coming home from his “other” job. The entire family participated in the making of these cores; it was not unusual to have everyone packing cores at the kitchen table after dinner and dishes were finished. The cores were packed in cardboard boxes that pop and beer came in, compliments of Aunt Freda, who owned a carryout. The name, J-Lenco, was conceived at the same dinner table and once again, everyone got into the act. The “J” in J-Lenco stands for daughter Judy; “L” for daughter Lisa; “E” for son Ed; “N” for wife Nancy; “C” for daughter Carol; and the “O” stands for nothing, it just sounded good. Over the years it was joked that it stood for Oscar, the dog they never had.
Cores were first delivered via car and later via pickup truck. The first delivery truck was red and looked like it came right out of the television show “Green Acres”! The business grew and additional room was needed…the small dirt floor garage wasn’t big enough; so Ed moved to…you guessed it… a bigger garage! This garage was located on Route 4 south of Marion. It originally housed a go-cart business that Ed owned with his brother-in-law, Bill Byrd. The amenities of this facility were a raised wooden floor and electricity! It was here that J-Lenco hired it’s first employee, Hershel Shepherd, in 1973. Ed sure knew how to hire, Hershel worked for J-Lenco until 2002! Hershel and Ed continued to work and their efforts were rewarded with less sleep and more work. And once again, the garage wasn’t big enough!
The next move took Ed to Morral, to a facility that once housed Murphy Casting Company, a foundry that his father owned and operated. His father had also owned General Castings with Scoop Midland and had sold his shares to Jack Midlam. This building had not been occupied for a long time and in addition to making cores, windows had to be replaced, the floor had to be found, concrete had to be replaced, and many birds had to find a new home. Eventually the building was put back into shape, with a lot of hard work. And somewhere Ed still found time to grow the business. And again, the building was too small. But this time he did something different; instead of moving, he built a new building – a pole barn. As time went on, he built another and yet another!
The business continued to grow in direct relationship to the mileage Ed put on his vehicle. He delivered the cores, visited the customers, quoted the cores and came back and often set the core boxes up so the employees could begin producing first thing in the morning. Shell and pepset cores were made in Morral and later isocure cores were made there, too. But eventually there just wasn’t enough room…and Ed went to La Rue in 1981 and purchased a Quonset hut type building that had once been used as a chicken barn. It was in La Rue that J-Lenco began making prototype cores for the Kelsey-Hayes Foundry in Fremont, Ohio. Kelsey-Hayes made brake rotors for Ford Motor Company. Since J-Lenco proved to be such a good supplier of prototype cores, and Kelsey-Hayes had a great demand for rotors, they asked J-Lenco to make rotor cores. And rotor cores we made – eventually making about 20,000 cores per day for Kelsey-Hayes! In addition to that work, we had numerous other customers and the machines kept humming and Ed’s truck continued to “run down the road”.
Eventually, the La Rue facility was too small (again). The next move was to 943 Adams Street in Marion, to a facility that once housed the Marion Bronze Foundry. This time it seemed that with 80,000 square feet we might never have to move again. We thought we were in heaven, even though the roof leaked, the windows needed replaced and the doors needed rehung. We met the challenge head on once again, and the fixing, replacing, and repairing began. And, believe it or not, early in 1989, in one weekend the entire La Rue operation was moved to Marion!! Sunday night third shift began working and never a shipment was missed! We continued to grow and employed about 150 people by 1990. We were producing isocure, shell and pepset cores in this facility and pepset and shell cores in Morral. Then on November 19, 1990, a fire broke out during the afternoon and once it got into the roof area, it was uncontainable. All the hard work that had been put into making J-Lenco grow and the building that was finally “big enough” just went up in smoke…and we watched. We contacted Ed on his cell phone and he watched his dream and hard work drift across the skies as he drove home from Columbus.
But the next day the employees encouraged him to do it again…and we did. On November 21, 1990 we began the cleanup in Marion and the build up…you guessed it…in the building that just wasn’t big enough in La Rue. And we worked every weekday and every weekend for a year. And we got our customers back and we got our employees back. And over time, we built two more buildings.
Then in January of 1992, in a difficult business decision, the Morral facility was closed.
In 2000, we became high tech and bought our first robot to coat cores and guess what we named it…Oscar!! Now the “o” really stands for something…Oscar, the robot.
Now, in 2003, the facilities are still not big enough, but Ed Murphy has shown that through hard work and honest business ethics, it is possible to build a business with very little money and with buildings that are just not big enough.
I guess buildings that aren’t big enough are part of Ed’s history, because he was the 3rd of 12 children born to Florence and Bob Murphy. You can only imagine that nothing was big enough for a family of 14!!
But what was big enough is Ed’s heart, devotion and concern for his family, God, work, and friends. These gifts he has passed along to his children, Carol, Judy, Lisa, and Ed, Jr., who continue to operate J-Lenco with the special spirit instilled in them by their father. Ed Murphy, Sr. has left his company in their care with his passing on May 4, 2003. We who worked for him have been specially blessed to know this very kind and special man. We will miss him greatly.