Russ Beach saw his steel- box factory in Smiths Falls in the 1952 burn to a shambles in a $150,000 fire. When the fire struck he wasn’t sure whether he should rebuild in Smiths Falls or start over in another community. Before the flames had died out inside the ruined Beach Industries building the municipal council had held an emergency meeting and announced it was prepared to offer all possible assistance.
Mayor George Swayne had rushed to the scene of the blaze and had hustled about carrying hot coffee to the town’s frost-bitten volunteer firemen. A garage owner rushed over with a tow truck and pulled the company safes from the burning shell to the safety of the Canadian Pacific Railway sheds. Many offers of help poured into to Russ Beach from other Industries. Bill Justus told him he could use his office at Falls Manufacturing Frost & Wood Company, Ltd., offered all its plant facilities.
Russ Beach recalls. “Everyone wanted to help me out. Their actions made any thought of moving away from Smiths Falls unthinkable.” The grateful factory owner responded to the prompt display of generosity with a public thank you and a promise to rebuild in Smiths Falls.
He fulfilled his pledge and Russ Beach doubled sales in the first two years after he acquired the plant In 1949. Sales dropped back in 1952 when the fire struck but in 1953 sales were expected to hit an all-time high and Beach Industries was planning to expand its new building by 50 percent.
From the Russ Beach plant came steel containers-tool boxes for the air force and army, letter boxes, Post Office lock boxes and custom orders such as first-aid equipment containers for Bauer & Black .
Beach’s interest In expansion goes further than his own booming business. As a member of the Smiths Falls Chamber of Commerce he was one of the best salesmen touting the town as a location for new industries.
Russell Beach was a member of a well known Ottawa manufacturing family. His father, O. A. Beach, operated Beach Motors in the Capital; his uncle, B. C. Beach, was the man behind Beach Foundry. Born near Regina he came to Ottawa with his family when he was a year old and attended Carticr Street Public School and Lisgar Collegiate. He began his business career with American Bosch Magneto Corporation, of Springfield, Mass., working in both Springfield and Cornwall where he was in charge of production. In 1930, he entered the gas distributing business, an offshoot of his father’s automobile concern.
Russ was general manager of Beach Motors before his father sold the business and retired in 1947. He also managed Ottawa Beach Realty, a family enterprise no longer In existence and was secretary of Beach Trust. He was also a director of another family business, Skilllcraft of St. Catharines, Ont., a hardware manufacturing concern closely allied with his own Smiths Falls undertaking.
He acquired the 12-year-old factory in Smiths Falls from M. F. Summers, who ended up being plant superintendent. Russ was a member of the local Rotary Club and past president of the Advertising and Sales Club and member of the Eastern Ontario Purchasing Agents Association.
His wife was a former Arnprior gal, Beryl Sheffield whom he married in 1933. They had two daughters, Jill and Lynda. The newly rebuilt factory cost him $60,000 and the plant was completely modernized with fluorescent lighting, well-planned working space, colour dynamics, safety devices and a sprinkler system with a private alarm signal hooked up with the fire hall.
- The Ottawa Journal,
- 03 Apr 1978, Mon,
- [First Edition],
- Page 32
- The Ottawa Citizen,
- 22 Nov 1973, Thu,
- Other Editions,
- Page 4
Russell J. Beach 1910-1995
- The Ottawa Citizen,
- 30 May 1995, Tue,
- Page 47
Russ Beach, of Smiths Falls, Ontario was a driving force in the development of the Smiths Falls Montague airport as well as aviation in Canada. He passed away on May 26, 1995, just a few days short of his 85th birthday. READ more here..