Memories: Jimmy Hoffa Visits Coors

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In 1962 Coors® filed a 10 million dollar lawsuit against the Teemsters Union because of their blockade of Coors beer. Jimmy Hoffa, in retaliation, tried to organize a union at the Coors Porcelain Factory in Golden, Colorado.

Joseph Coors was President of the Coors Porcelain Company, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Adolph Coors Company®. I was an engineer working at the Golden, Colorado factory. Following is a brief history of the company:

Brief History of Coors Porcelain Company

In the early days of beer making, the eastern breweries became jealous of the Coors brewery marketing efforts and forced glass bottle manufacturers to stop supplying bottles to Coors. They did this by threatening the bottle manufacturers that they would not buy bottles from any company that sold bottles to Coors.

At that time, Coors was not supplying beer east of the Mississippi but the eastern manufacturers thought the threat was real in the west and could spread eastward.

As a footnote, in 1958 in Chicago at the Palmer House, while Carol Channing sang Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend and threw imitation diamond necklaces on our table, Joe Coors told our dinner group that the company would never sell beer east of the Mississippi River. I told him I wanted the first dealership east of the Mississippi. I should have stuck around to collect it.

Adolph Coors was not to be put off by the bottle embargo. He hired glass makers and they made bottles for Coors. Finally, the eastern bottle manufacturers became angry at the eastern brewers because they had lost business. They immediately got back into the graces of Adolph Coors and again supplied bottles.

Adolph Coors did not want to dismiss his new bottle-making employees. The bottle factory was converted to ceramics and produced crocks to store malt and other items at the brewery.

During World War I, the Allied Blockade stopped the flow of German chemical porcelain into the United States. This was a burden on industry and chemical laboratories across the country. The federal government asked 54 ceramic companies to make porcelain. Coors was the only company to succeed because Adolph Coors had connections in Germany that provided him the technology to make chemical porcelain.

Coors later made alumina ceramics with technology provided by A. C. Sparkplug, and later, other companies. During World War II flights of DC-3s carried ceramics to the Manhattan Project from the Coors factory.

Coors’ substrates for solar cells were on the Telstar satellite created by Bell Labs. In 1962, Telstar broadcast the first television signals from space which allowed transatlantic television transmission. Coors supplied beryllium oxide and other ceramics to government-sponsored projects. Since I was under a secrecy agreement at the time and possibly (but not probably) some items may still be secret, I’ll not describe other activities. The company has since expanded into a number of technically-oriented companies outside Colorado.

Back to the Hoffa Visit

The Coors family was always anti-union. A bitter strike at Coors Porcelain Company had earlier prompted actions that placed deep-seated resentment in some employees. Hoffa, in light of the lawsuit by Coors, decided to take a shot at organizing the union again. Although the lawsuit was generated by the Adolph Coors Company, Hoffa had to recognize the union at the brewery. He attacked the Coors Porcelain Company instead.

In preparation to Hoffa’s visit, Joe Coors called the salaried staff into the company cafeteria and told us that in no way was any union activities to be tolerated. He was especially concerned about the machine shop where the tooling was made. Union activity often started there. As I remember, Joe said a few things that were not exactly legal to say but I’m too old to remember the specifics. Later, much tooling was farmed out.

When Hoffa came to the factory I watched him pass out literature to the employees as they left work. He was chatting with them at the front gate and shaking their hands without trespassing on company property or doing anything else that could be considered illegal.

I went out into the factory and some of our senior staff was standing on work benches watching the show. I told them they looked like a bunch of idiots and to go into my office to watch, which they did.

That evening, Hoffa held a meeting for our employees. Two salaried staff employees went to the meeting where Coors supplied the beer. They drank beer with Hoffa, shook his hand, and listened to his speech. These two showed up on the evening television news.

One of the most amazing things happened the next day. I was sure they would be fired immediately. They were not!

Hoffa was impressive to the working man. I understand that he lived in the same simple suburban home in Detroit for many years. However, he was not able to organize a new union at the Coors Porcelain Company factory.

Hoffa spent some time in prison starting in 1967. Here is an excerpt from [] Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren would later call the conviction an “affront to the quality and fairness of federal law enforcement”. United States President Richard M. Nixon commuted Jimmy Hoffa’s sentence, and he left prison on 24th December 1971.

Here is another excerpt from the same reference: In July of 1975 Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. He was last seen at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and he was declared legally dead in 1982.

There was a memorial service for Hoffa on July 31, 1995, twenty years after his disappearance, which more than two thousand people attended. Some however, claim that he is still alive.

Incidentally, Adolph Coors, Jr., who was president of the Adolph Coors Company just prior to Hoffa’s visit, was murdered during a kidnapping attempt in 1960 by Joseph Corbett, a former Fulbright scholar. See [],_Jr.

Adolph Coors, Jr. was a fine leader and I dedicated two editions of my college text Ceramics: Industrial Processing and Testing to him. Ad Coors new how to solve and avoid problems better than his brothers Bill and Joe.

A Slight Diversion to Make You Laugh

I can’t resist giving you a story about Ad Coors here.

While Joe Coors was away at school, Bill Coors was running the porcelain plant. A worker whose name was Eli was a kiln loader and was still working at the same job while I was there.

Eli was rebuilding the kiln deck settings when Bill told him to not do it his way but Bill’s way. Eli said that if he built the decks Bill’s way there would be a major kiln wreck and he (Eli) would have to clean it up.

Bill insisted on getting his way. Eli told him to shove the kiln up his ass and went home.

When Ad heard what had happened he called Eli at home and told him to come to his office. When Eli got there Ad walked him and Bill out to the kiln.

This is what Ad Coors said, “You are both wrong!

“Now Bill, if you set the kiln furniture (refractory) your way, there will be a major kiln wreck just as Eli said.

“Now Eli, you are wrong too. You know that Bill can’t get that kiln up his ass.”

Back to Hoffa

Hoffa is back in the news. For some reason the FBI wants his body.

Observing the news footage it appears that the whole FBI is out shoveling dirt on a horse farm in Milford Township. Now the barn is coming down if it hasn’t already.

Wouldn’t it be better to put all this effort into finding terrorist?

Where is Osama Bin Laden anyway?

Is he sipping lemonade in Mecca as I said in another article. See

The End

Hoffa, Coors, Joseph Coors, Coors Porcelain Company, Adolph Coors Company, embargo, lawsuit, union, Golden Colorado, bottles, blockade, truckers, Osama Bin Laden, news, murder

copyright©2006 John T. Jones, Ph.D.

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