April 20, 1951 - A New Industry For Marion.
A new industry, not only to Marion, but new in the widest sense, because it is the only one of its kind in the United States.
Through the indefatigable and untiring efforts of our fellow townsman, Emmitt Rodgers, he has begun the manufacture of an article which is indispensable for the use of soldiers, sailors, marines, laundries, housewives, and all other where he marking of clothing and other articles is essential. The product is handled under the trade name of "MI-MARKER," which is protected by U. S. Patent laws, and it is being sold throughout the country to Army posts, and installations, and many other distributors.
Mr. Rodgers has taken over the space in the Jenkins Building formerly occupied by the pool room, which has been thoroughly renovated and painted, and where he now has a force at work. Also, a number of Marion housewives are now engaged in assembling the various parts of the Marker in their home. (Tink Hinklin remembers when the company occupied the office space next to their cleaners on Carlisle Street and also that the MI stood for Military Identification-Markers.)
November 11, 1954
Four years ago, in November 1950, the Mi-Marker Company, located in the Jenkins Building in Marion, developed and perfected a laundry and clothes marking kit for members of the Army and Air Force. From a humble beginning, the firm has grown steadily, until today. 20 persons from the community are steadily employed.
Sales during the past 12 months have been over $200,000. More than 150 Army, Air Force, Navy and Marie bases and installations in the United States are now offering Mi-Marker kits through their Post exchanges. The kits are also handled through Exchanges in Alaska, Panama, south Sea Islands, Japan, Germany and France.
Kits are also made for camps and schools, or wherever there is a risk of confusing identification of clothing in a group.
The product has been developed into a handy, packaged kit enabling the user to make up his own rubber stamp for clearly identifying his clothing with his name or serial number. With the product, laundry and cleaning mix-ups are virtually eliminated, as the stamps and ink employed provide an unmistakable lasting identification.
Contained in each kit is a full set of assorted numbers and letters, from which the user makes up his own rubber stamps. The letters are affixed to a self-adhering convenient handle. A bottle of indelible ink, an ink pad and directions for use, complete the kit.
Prior to the development of the product for use by servicemen, there were some thirty different companies, marketing various types of clothing markers. All of these were inadequate, did not meet military regulations and were frequently too expensive, selling for as high as $2.50.
In December 1950, the Fort Campbell and Camp Breckenridge Post Exchanges each purchased 6500 Mi-Marker kits, retaining them to servicemen at 75 cents each. The demand for the kits was great and before January of 1951, both Exchanges reordered the units.
From the beginning, sales expanded to the present nationwide and extensive foreign distribution coverage through Post Exchanges.
Continually striving to improve their product, the Mi-Marker Company has recently adopted a modern two-tone plastic box for packaging each individual kit. These have replaced the former cardboard boxes that were used.
The ink pads and stamp handles on which the rubber letter are mounted, were formerly shaped from wood. To improve their use in service, these parts are now molded in plastic.
The operation at the Marion Mi-Marker plant begins with the molding of raw rubber into the various sizes of letters and numbers that are used in the various types of kits manufactured.
In the molding process, a special raw rubber manufactured by B. F. Goodrich Co. is molded or cooked on an "Acroplate." Over 2000 pounds of rubber are used each month.
The molded rubber lettered sheets are then perforated or sliced part way through the rubber by hand-operated knives. This permits the desired letters to be removed from the sheet easily by the user.
A given quantity of strips of letters or numbers are then packed, along with the stamp, ink pad and ink, into the plastic boxes. These in turn, are packed in shipping cartons ready for shipment by truck or parcel post to the various Post Exchanges or other distributors.
The company was founded by Emmett Rodgers and Murray Rodgers of Paducah. Present management is under Emmett Rodgers, who has offered a standing invitation to visitors to stop in anything and view the operations of this thriving local industry. (The business later moved to the old Ford Garage on Main Street.)