Saginaw Steering Gear is now an Automotive Accessory Division of General Motors. It was founded April 21, 1906 by John L. Jackson, E. D. Church, and M. L. Wilcox, who organized a company for the purpose of manufacturing needed automobile parts for automobile companies. The three men were the first stockholders, board members, and officers. They split 2,500 shares of stock between them. The capital stock was then worth $25,000. The company was then called the Jackson, Church and Wilson Company. Their first building was a machine shop. Initially, the company machined automobile parts for Buick Motor Company and Lewis Spring and Axle Company.
The company obtained a patent on a revolutionary steering gear called the “Jacox Gear,” Jacox being an acronym compiled from the first letters of the three founders’ surnames. Both the gear and company were well regarded and became quite successful. The gear, unlike other gears of the day, prevented automobile drivers from being hurled from their vehicles when driving on rutted or rough roads, which were very common in those days. Soon, 200 gears per week were manufactured. By 1909 the board members each received a $3,300 dividend and the capital stock value increased to $60,000. The company then invested in land on which it built a new building with the goal of doubling production.
Buick purchased the company in January 1910. Later that year, Buick became part of General Motors. The Saginaw plant was called the Jacox plant. By 1913, production increased to 300 gears per day. By 1914 the plant expanded by 28,000 square feet with a new building and production rose to 65,000 gears/day. By 1917, production reached 1,000 gears per day. In 1917 the former Rainier Motor Plant was purchased. By early 1918, approximately 3,000,000 shells for the Allies were produced at the plant.
After World War I, the plant continued to expand in size and products. In 1919, the plant converted back to peace efforts and manufactured engines for Chevrolet and Oldsmobile. An expansion added 51,000 square feet. The plant built the Grey Iron Foundry, later called the Chevrolet Foundry, and bought the Malleable Iron Foundry, later called Saginaw Malleable. The name of the plant changed to Saginaw Production Company, Division of General Motors Corporation.
In 1921 Lansing and Saginaw Plants of Michigan Crankshaft Company operations were transferred to Saginaw. A new steering gear, the “Worm and Worm Wheel Gear” was manufactured in 1926. In 1928 plants were set up separately and the Saginaw plant became known as the Saginaw Steering Gear Division of GM. During 1929-1930, the plant produced the “Hour Glass Worm and Section Gear” for GM Truck, Oldsmobile, Oakland, and Cadillac. It also produced the “Worm and Single Roller Tooth Gear” for Buick. The name of the plant changed to Saginaw Gear in 1930. In 1935, the plant developed and manufactured the “Steering Drag Link Assembly” and in 1937 Propeller Shafts and Universal Joints. The plant built a new building in 1936. The following year it bought a 13,000 square foot building. (This early company history is from Out of the valley to victory, a company history published by G. M. Corp. Saginaw Steering Gear Div. in 1943.)
By the late 20th century the plant consisted of seven manufacturing plants and the Divisional Offices, located in Saginaw, Michigan. Two additional manufacturing plants are located in north central Alabama, near Decatur. At one point, just over 10,000 people were employed in the Division. Over the years, the Division has produced a wide range of products including: Manual and Power Steering Gears; Rack and Pinion Steering; Power Steering Hydraulic Pumps and Hoses; Energy-Absorbing Steering Columns; Tilt-Wheel and Tilt and Telescoping Driver Adjustable Steering; Front-wheel Drive Axles; Exhaust Emission Control Air Pumps; Propeller Shafts and Universal Joints; Steering Linkages and Components; High Efficiency, Low Friction Recirculating Ball Bearing Screws and Splines.
A product Engineering Department is located in the Divisional Headquarters. Saginaw Steering and other divisions of General Motors formed Delphi Corporation late in the 20th century. Delphi, although having filed for bankruptcy, is still a registered Corporation registered on major stock exchanges. (This later information is from Wikipedia and an undated, online Division paper viewed on May 14, 2007, and Mr. Joe Dunn, the past auditor for GM Michigan plants.)