We learned in Part 1, that by 2019 all the match factories that once existed in America were closed or sold, resulting in what we have today – one match factory in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. As the sole survivor and steward to the iconic industry, we will be writing the future as we go. But don’t worry, we have a plan.
Imagine if you were to visit the factory to see the new match operations:
“A new era of match making has emerged. By combining the technologies of the Bean plant and the Atlas plant, all the different variations of match making methods are on display-in operating form-every day. Because the match factories were rolling up for many years – since 1973 – the legacy of all matchmaking equipment is now bolted down to the D.D. Bean plant floor. For example, we are running the very same equipment that was used in Canada at the Eddy Match plant, until it’s closure in 1999.
On the shop floor you will find the best-of-the-best book match making equipment in the world. The original D.D. Bean commodity matchbook machines are a marvel in their own right. These matchbook or “booking” machines, run at twice the speed of any other semi-automated match-making machine ever in production. Caddy packing is fully automated to meet the high-speed rate of the assembly machine. The pace is rapid, but the quality – due to decades of honing the machine – is excellent. World class.
Further down the production line, you will see the promotional and advertising matchbooks being produced on the card and flat fed machines. Standing alongside these mechanized, synchronized, harmonized assembly machines are a team of American workers. Each member of the team takes turns operating and packing for the machine. Both operators are highly trained in quality control and take great pride in turning out a product our customers are delighted to own and share.
At the heart of the operation, deep inside the old brick and beam mill building, is the mixing room. Four large kettles are filled and emptied and refilled daily, with all the match-making chemicals. This is no easy job.
In the mixing room, y. But the key to a successful batch of match head composition is the mixer – his name is Cliff. Years of practice and his batches come out the same every time. We know, because we test every one.
This new era match factory employs many other specialists too. In addition to experienced machine operators (which requires years of training because all of our machines are one-of-a-kind) and experts in mixing the match head, there is a team of mechanics and a team of printers. Both are specialized to support the modern match plant.”
This modern match plant is the natural progression in a mature industry. What you won’t see are the milestones between the match plant closings of the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s. You won’t see the dramatic change in distribution channels when the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) banned advertising of cigarettes on matches. And you won’t see the progressive disappearance of a free matchbook.
Each of these major events have inevitably jolted the industry from the path it was on to a completely new and unmarked one. The American match-makers have risen to the challenge each time, and proven their ingenuity and perseverance by refusing to go away. This is a story of survival. This is a story of commitment. This is a story of an industry refusing to become obsolete. Refusing to be eradicated by advanced manufacturing or robotics. Refusing to be erased by imported substitute products. We make fire. Portable fire for everyone. Right here in the USA. And we will not be snuffed out.