The sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago resulted in 1,503 lives being lost — but helped one woodworking equipment manufacturer to survive.

According to an article on, in 1912 Grand Rapids-based Oliver Machinery was in the midst of fighting a patent infringement lawsuit brought by British firm Wadkin & Co. With original proofs in hand to support Wadkin’s claims, managing partner Denzil Jarvis boarded the Titanic on that last journey. He did not survive.

How a Woodworking Company Benefited from the Titanic TragedyOliver Machinery did, though under new ownership. Later that year, Joseph Oliver would sell a majority of the company to investors Frank A. Baldwin and Victor M. Tuthill of Baldwin, Tuthill & Bolton. Although the company would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1986, it has worked through, and its legacy continues today.

Older Oliver machines, like the Straitoplane planer/jointer, are handled today by Eagle Machinery & Repair, whose owner Rich Fink purchased the parts, inventory and drawings of the original Oliver Machinery Co. Newer machines, like the 5525 dual oscillating drum sander, are offered by Oliver Machinery, which today is located in Washington.

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