Our History95+ years of leadership in the design and manufacture of high quality transformers and reactors
Energy excellence since 1925
BRIEF HISTORY OF R. E. UPTEGRAFF MANUFACTURING COMPANY
R.E. Uptegraff Manufacturing Company was started by R. E. Uptegraff, Sr. in 1925. He became interested in electricity when he was a child growing up in an Indiana town without any electric service.
At 16, he started as an office boy at Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, PA. At 17, he started a four-year trade course at night school, while he continued at Westinghouse; and when he completed that, Westinghouse sent him on through a two-year college course. Finishing that, he worked in their transformer department.
In 1920, he joined Pittsburgh Transformer and stayed for five years. He learned transformer design and became a consultant and salesman in the transformer field.
In 1925, he started his own firm with $750.00 and one employee on the second floor of a garage he rented. By 1929, he had twelve employees, and he incorporated the company in the state of Pennsylvania. Interestingly, one of the first transformers he sold was to Scottdale.
As the business grew, he moved the business four times, each time to a larger facility.
In 1938, a fire from an explosion of varnish set off by a spark severely damaged his plant in Homewood. In this post-depression era, many communities were looking for business to occupy empty buildings, and he was approached by a group of concerned citizens from Scottdale looking to fill the former Carnegie Illinois steel plant He chose Scottdale and began with thirty employees, a few of whom moved with him from Pittsburgh.
His son, Roy Uptegraff, Jr., joined his business in 1939 after graduating from Penn State. He took a leave of absence during WWII to work on defense projects with the Navy Department in the state of Washington, returning in 1945 to Scottdale. His early years were spent as chief electrical design engineer, later becoming President; and in 1959, he took over ownership of the business and remained owner until March, 1992.
During the Roy, Sr. and Roy, Jr. ownership years, there were other locations of the business. Other plant sites included Terre Alta, WV, Somerset, PA, and Roanoke Rapids, NC. Generally, small transformers, pole type and small padmounts, were built at these plants; and over the years, these niches proved not to be particularly profitable; and those plants were closed and sold. After Hurricane Agnes, which did about one million dollars’ worth of damage to the Scottdale plant, offices were moved to Wedding Lane along Route 119. However, separating the engineering wing from the production facility presented problems; and when Williamhouse decided to expand and approached Roy, Jr. about buying the land, he took advantage of the opportunity to sell and move the offices back to Scottdale.
In 1992, Roy, Jr. became quite ill with leukemia and turned the ownership of the company over to his daughter, Susan, who had been working for the business since 1989 as Purchasing Manager. Her husband, Rob Endersbe, has worked for the business since 1968, beginning as Quality Assurance; and in the last ten years, as Production Manager.
R. E. UPTEGRAFF TODAY
We currently have 42 employees and work one shift. We are an engineered to order (ETO) shop, building custom order units to customer specifications. We build units from 10 to 15,000 kVA, our limits determined by our design expertise and the limitations of our facilities, our crane size, door size, oven size, etc. Our units are shipped by truck.
We have transformers all over the world. We have done very little direct exporting. Most of our exporting is through domestic-based engineering companies. Our transformers are located in South America (Venezuela), Jamaica, Aruba, Mexico, Canada, the Middle East, Philippines, Alaska, off-shore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico for the large oil companies.
From steel to transformers…
- Uptegraff is located on property once owned by Everson Steel (1883), Frick Coal and Coke, and Carnegie Steel – 1890’s-1929
- Abandoned in 1930 during the Great Depression and donated to the City of Scottdale
- One of our buildings was constructed in 1900. The ‘1900 Building’ formerly housed our Winding & Insulation operations. A National Historic Landmark, it will be restored and house our offices and a small museum
- The ‘1908 Building ‘ is our main manufacturing area, housing the Currently Tank Shop, Assembly, Finish, Leak Check, Test and Shipping
Roy Jr and Roy Sr Uptegraff
Susan Uptegraff Endersbe, third-generation family owner, became President in 1992