This article reprinted from Wood & Wood Products, March 1965

 

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From June 1951 to June 1976, Wood & Wood Products published a monthly feature titled "Wood Salutes." During its 25-year run, the column chronicled the achievements of some 300 people from the ranks of industry and academia. In March of 1965, W&WP saluted Jerry Metz for his furniture company's extraordinary safety record.

 

For his contributions to the advancement of the wood industry...

WOOD SALUTES J.L. "JERRY" METZ

It's not just by chance that J. L. Metz Furniture Co. has chalked up a plant safety record of more than 10 years without disabling injuries.

"Automation should contribute to safety," says the Hammond, Ind., firm's president, Jerry Metz, "but we also figure that we've got to be careful ... all in all we keep an eye on everything."

Jerry Metz has well earned his reputation as a specialist in safe manufacturing methods. His plant has won the National Association of Furniture Manufacturers Safety Award for 10 consecutive years. In the sprawling greater Calumet area, where the Metz firm has been pitted against industries in all manufacturing categories, its safety records have won frequent awards from the Calumet Industrial Safety Council. In addition, National Safety Council files cite the outstanding job which Jerry Metz has achieved in plant safety.

The manner in which he has put his beliefs into practice at his own plant has been described in magazine articles, among them articles appearing in Wood & Wood Products.

The drive for top efficiency has carried over to his work for NAFM, for which he served as director for two terms before being named to the association's perpetuating office of treasurer in 1961. In typical modesty, he commented on accepting the office. "One of my favorite occupations in NAFM ... I have been active in it for years and will now simply continue in work I consider highly important." Colleagues say that "active" is too modest a word to describe the work load he has shouldered on the association's behalf. One contribution was his help in setting up NAFM's safety contest committee for which he served as chairman from its inception.

In 1930, following graduation from the University of Chicago, Jerry Metz joined the furniture firm founded by his father 32 years before. He subsequently worked in every phase of manufacturing and sales in the company, and still makes it a point to understand every process in the plant.

He became president in 1951 and by 1954 launched a full-scale modernization program (completed by 1959) to convert manufacturing of medium-grade furniture on a production basis to the economical production of high-style collections. He considers the modernization that took place then out of date and is presently hard at work directing another renovation which is expected to be completed by May. The plant has been described as one of the cleanest furniture factories in operation.

Various beautiful furniture collections rolling out of the Metz plant have taken top honors for design as well as consumer preference in competitions sponsored by both the American Walnut Manufacturers Assn. and the Mahogany Assn.

During World War II, Jerry Metz served as operations officer at the Ft. Bluff (AR) Arsenal where he designed and produced several vital ammunitions, receiving for his work the Legion of Merit and the War Department Commendation Medals. As might be expected, the arsenal was cited for an outstanding safety record.

He lives in Olympia Fields, Ill., with his wife and three daughters and likes to refer to his home, designed by architect John McPherson, as a "wood butcher's dream."

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