1955: First shovelful for Ronson

On Sept. 21, 1955, the first shovelful of ground for the new $1 million lighter-production plant of the Ronson Corp. was turned by Louis Aronson, president of the corporation. When completed, the new plant in Delaware Water Gap would face Route 611′s approach to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge.

In the front row with the spade-wielding Ronson president Louis Aronson are Emerson Stanton, machinist union business agent; Charles Clapper, union president; Milton Phol, local manager of Ronson; Jack Sherill, contractor; George Albach, vice president of contractors; Harry Tepper, general counsel, and Benjamin Zuckerman, director of Ronson, William Davlin, State Secretary of Commerce. In the background are B.B. Bond, vice president of Ronson, Richard Fuller, Ray Noonan, contractor; Ted Lowey, industrial engineer; Samuel L. Cohen, secretary; John Roth, treasurer and Walter Mikos, plant superintendent of Ronson.

During the ceremony, Ronson’s president paused to read a telegram from then-Pennsylvania Gov. George Leader, who praised the decision to proceed with the new plant:

“Your action is a vote of confidence in an area where the citizens have shown the courage of recovery from disaster (referring to the massive flooding throughout the area just one month earlier). Your decision is the best you could possibly make because it is an area which has proven it will never succumb to defeat. ”

Twenty years after the groundbreaking celebration for the most-modern lighter-manufacture plant in the world, the “new” Ronson plant was closed.

Although the end of Ronson caused some 200 employees to lose their jobs, the company had long history in Monroe County, employing numerous local residents throughout its years.

Ronson was first located in East Stroudsburg when it entered Monroe County in 1941. Thirteen years later, the company’s Newark, N.J., operation was consolidated with the East Stroudsburg plant. Two more sites were added later, both located in the borough.  Ronson’s final home was in Delaware Water Gap.

Ronson went through a five-month strike in 1970 and was to open talks on new a contract in June 1976.  Since labor-management relations had been smooth, no difficulties had been anticipated. But, before the contract could be negotiated, a portion of the work force was laid off in June 1975.

An eight-week general closing was called on Nov. 12, 1975, while year-end inventories were taken. Then, two weeks later, the plant permanently closed.

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Check out this Pocono memories photo of Ronson Corp.

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