Rauch & Lang, Inc.
Rauch & Lang, Inc.
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Rauch & Lang, Inc.
August 1, 1920
11" (w) x 8 1/2" (h)
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Jacob J. Rauch came from Bavaria to New York City, eventually making his way to Cleveland, Ohio, where he established a blacksmith's shop on Columbus Road in 1853.
Seven years later, Jacob's son Charles opened up a second shop on Pearl Road, just southwest of the city on the route of the Columbus to Cleveland stagecoach. Both father and son were skilled blacksmiths and wheelwrights, and the pair began manufacturing carriages and wagons from the two shops.
Jacob J. Rauch was killed at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 while serving with Cleveland's 8th Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Gibralter Brigade of the Army of the Potomac (aka Union Army), and young Charles closed down the Columbus Road shop, concentrating his efforts at Pearl Road.
For many years Rauch had manufactured a small number of wagons, drays and heavy-duty trucks as well as carriages. Their most popular model was their ice wagon which featured a large polar bear painted by A.M. Willard, a popular artist of the era and one of them received a bronze medal at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. As did most other carriage builders, Rauch built a large number sleighs for used during the harsh northern winters of which the Buffalo Speed Cutter was their most popular model.
Charles E.J. Lang was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1858 to wealthy German immigrants. The family was in direct relation to the von Lang's of Germany Karl Heinrich Lang, though they did not utilize the von portion of their surname in America. After graduation from Western Reserve College now known as CWRU Lang was trained as a bookkeeper and it was in this capacity that he was hired by Charles Rauch in 1878. His family had extensive real estate holdings in the Lakewood suburb of Cleveland and he soon proved invaluable to the firm, becoming a partner in 1884. The resulting firm was capitalized with $75,000 and incorporated as the Rauch and Lang Carriage Company, whose board included Charles Rauch, Charles E.J. Lang, Henry Heideloff, Herman Kroll and John Kreifer. Rauch was elected president, and Lang, secretary-treasurer. Rauch and Lang collected $18,000 salary, the other board members, $10,000. A four-story factory was leased at the corner of Pearl Road (now West 25th Street) and McLean Streets for $1,650 per year. Lang was able to bring in additional investments through his family's ties to Andrew Carnegie and Charles E.J. Lang's friend and neighbor John D. Rockefeller.
Later, Lang had become the firm's vice-president and a second 4-story building was leased adjacent to the Pearl Road manufactory. Joseph Rothgery, their very first employee, was now in charge of the finishing department and was on hand whenever a Rauch & Lang carriage was delivered locally. The Ireland, Mather and Hanna families rode in Rauch & Lang carriages, as did most of the region's leading citizens. They specialized in Broughams, Victorias, Stanhopes, opera busses and doctors wagons which sold for between $500 and $2,000.
In 1894 Rauch & Lang posted a profit of $40,000, and introduced a new line of light delivery vehicles that proved to be very popular. In 1903, their Cleveland wareroom became a dealership for the new Buffalo Electric automobile, and within two years, they were manufacturing their own electric vehicles which had been road tested by Joseph Rothgery, who had just celebrated his 50th anniversary with the firm. Initially only a Stanhope was available, but by the end of 1905, a number of coupes and depot wagons had been manufactured, 50 vehicles in all.
Many of the Rauch & Lang Electric's non-coachbuilt components were sourced from Cleveland's Hertner Electric Company and following a $175,000 recapitalization, Hertner Electric became part of Rauch & Lang in 1907.
Charles E.J. Lang's family was associated with the Lakewood Realty Co., whose president, Charles. L.K. Wieber, provided much of Rauch & Lang's new capital. Wieber became the firm's new vice-president, and the rest of the officers were given a substantial increase in salary at the same time. John H. Hertner, the founder of Hertner Electric Company, and his chief engineer, D.C. Cunningham, were put in charge of the electric vehicle division and from that point on all of the automobile's components were manufactured in-house.
By 1908, they were producing 500 vehicles annually, and had back-orders for 300 more. Consequently, a mechanical engineer was brought in to see what could be done to increase capacity. A year later, the firm was recapitalized to the tune of $1,000,000 and Charles L.F. Wieber was given the title of general manager and a salary of $10,000. A new 340,000 sq. ft. factory was built, and the firm bought an interest in the Motz Clincher Tire and Rubber Company to insure an adequate supply of tires.
In 1911, the Rauch and Lang Electric was voted the most popular car in San Francisco and Minneapolis and a year later, worm drive was introduced. A Rauch & Lang advertisement penned by Albert Lasker of the Lord & Thomas Advertising Agency stated:
"Again has the Rauch and Lang electric asserted its premiership as Society's chosen car. The success of the new worm drive has been immediate.
This new feature means continued leadership in driving quality just as the beautiful body lines, rich finish and ultra refinement in every detail have always marked supremacy of Rauch and Lang construction. They are enthusiastic because the Rauch and Lang Straight Type Worm Drive (top mounted), which is superior to all others, means a greater than ever all 'round efficiency, a silence that is manifest, a power economy hitherto unknown and a driving simplicity that appeals to the most timid women. The Rauch and Lang is the highest priced automobile on the market. Its value is readily apparent to those who seek in a car artistic and mechanical perfection."
Later that year they were sued by their cross-town rivals, the Baker Electric Vehicle Company, for infringing upon Baker's patented drivetrain.
In 1912, 356,000 passenger cars were produced in the United States, and towards the end of the year, Charles Rauch, the founding father of Rauch & Lang, passed away. On November 26, 1912, the board of directors elected Charles C.F. Wieber president and general manager of the Rauch and Lang Carriage Company. Charles E.J. Lang became vice-president-treasurer and F. W. Treadway the firm's new secretary. It was during this time that both Lang and Rauch moved their families to the Eastside of Cleveland, building large mansions on the exclusive Euclid Avenue, also known as Millionaire's Row.
The October 23, 1913, issue of the Automobile announced that Rauch and Lang had introduced a radically new drive principle, the bevel gear transmission. They also introduced the dual control coach, a five-passenger, $3,200 electric sedan that could be driven from either the front seat, the rear seat, or both, a safety switch deactivated the forward controls if the revolving front seat was in any position other than forward.
A period Rauch & Lang ad boasted: "Whatever your ideas today, you are certain to come to the conclusion, sooner or later, that an enclosed automobile like the Rauch & Lang Electric combines all the desirable features and eliminates all the well-known annoyances and much of the expense incident to gasoline cars."
The introduction of Charles Kettering's self-starter in 1912 marked the beginning of the end for the electric automobile and by 1915 their share of the burgeoning automobile marketplace had fallen dramatically. Despite their earlier lawsuit, Cleveland's two electric vehicle manufacturers decided to merge, hoping that by streamlining their engineering and manufacturing operations, they might survive.
On June 10, 1915, the Automobile announced the merger, and the resulting firm, the Baker, Rauch & Lang Co.
Five years later, the Stevens-Duryea company bought out Rauch and Lang and moved production to Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. The company focused on producing taxi cabs and offered both electric and gasoline versions. Automobile production ended in 1928, but the company continued producing trucks and buses for a few more years.
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