Wednesday, January 11, 2017


In his long lifetime, Frederick C. Crawford was able to experience the dawn of the automobile, the invention of the aircraft, and seeing man walk on the moon. And he played a large part in all of it.

Born in Massachusetts in 1891, Crawford was educated at Harvard, receiving a Master's degree in Civil Engineering in 1914. In 1916, he came to Cleveland to work at Steel Products, Co. (later renamed Thompson Products), which manufactured fittings and connectors for automobiles. He started as a Millwright's Helper, and began to work his way up the company¹s ladder.

 (take a look at that for a moment... a masters from Harvard, gets a job as a millwright's helper/machinist, two years after getting that Harvard degree. Just what was going on that a Harvard degree and 2 years of work wouldn't get you a better job?)

Thompson Products Inc. was established in 1900, in Cleveland, Ohio, as the Cleveland Cap Screw Company. It began producing automotive parts and underwent several reorganizations, becoming the Electric Welding Products Company (1908), the Steel Products Company (1915), and Thompson Products Inc. (1926).

Mr. Crawford became general manager of the company's Cleveland plant in 1929, then the company's vice-president, and after the death of Charles Thompson in 1933, company president. 4 years from GM to president. Impressive.

Mr. Crawford worked to keep Thompson Products involved in the National Air Races in Cleveland, helping to organize the event and sponsoring the prestigious Thompson Trophy. Under his direction, Thompson Products increased its presence in the aviation industry, and continued to solidify its position as a major automotive component manufacturer. Mr. Crawford's interest in automobiles also directly led to the creation of the Thompson Products Auto Album, one of the first car museums in the United States, which began in 1937

It expanded to include branch plants and the production of aircraft parts, and fostered a company union, the Automotive and Aircraft Workers Alliance (later the Aircraft Workers Alliance). After World War II it entered the jet and aerospace industries, merging in 1958 with Ramo Wooldridge Corporation to become TRW Inc.

Persons coming from TRW were important to build up corporations like SpaceX. In 1953, the company was recruited to lead the development of the United States' first ICBM. Starting with the initial design by Convair, the multi-corporate team launched Atlas in 1957. It flew its full range in 1958, and was adapted to fly the Mercury astronauts into orbit.

 TRW also led development of the Titan missile, which was later adapted to fly the Gemini missions. The company served the US Air Force as systems engineers on all subsequent ICBM development efforts.

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