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Manufacturers Index - LaPointe Machine Tool Co.

LaPointe Machine Tool Co.
Hudson, MA, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Metal Working Machinery

Last Modified: Oct 31 2017 6:09PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

In 1896, Joseph Napoleon Lapointe, originally from Ste. Hyacinthe, Québec, was working at Pratt & Whitney Co. He developed a new broaching tool that had integrated cutting teeth rather than inserted cutters, and then he developed a new and more powerful broaching machine to use his improved broach. On 1902-03-03 he established the Lapointe Machine Tool Co. to manufacture his broaching machine. Lapointe was the director, president and general manager. The original company location was in Boston, with about four workers. Poorly capitalized, the company paid its bills by doing jobbing work and making reamers and taps. Their first broaching machine was sold in 1903. In 1906 the company relocated to Hudson, Mass. Joseph's son, Francis (Frank) J. Lapointe, joined the company. A skilled machinist, Frank quickly became the primary machine designer.

In 1911, J. Keyes Hall, a stockholder and company treasurer, acquired control of the company. A power struggle ensued. Joseph Lapointe offered to either buy Hall's stock or sell his own stock; Hall declined both offers. The Lapointes later said that they were "practically forced out of the company". In any event, J. N. and Francis J. Lapointe left and established a new business, J. N. Lapointe Co., located in Marlboro, Mass, where they promptly began making broaching machines in direct competition with the original firm. Another son, mechanical engineer Ralph R. Lapointe, soon left Lapointe Machine Tool Co. and rejoined his father and brother. A number of other workers also made the move from Lapointe Machine Tool to J. N. Lapointe. In 1913, the latter business relocated to New London, Conn.

From the 1914 book, "Worcester: City of Prosperity"

In April 1914, Hall and the Lapointes agreed to sell their interests in Lapointe Machine Tool Co., to a management group. The following year, Lapointe Machine Tool Co. sued J. N. Lapointe Co. for unfair competition in the use of the Lapointe name. The court decision was in favor of J. N. Lapointe Co.: Joseph Lapointe had conveyed his patents, drawings and designs to his original company, but his personal name and goodwill were his to use. J. N. Lapointe Co., through its circulars and advertisements, "made thorough and persistent efforts" to distinguish themselves from Lapointe Machine Tool Co.

For some years afterward the two companies existed in parallel. In 1928, Joseph Lapointe died unexpectedly. It seems that his new company did not long outlast him but we have been unable to determine exactly what happened.

Over the years and across the two companies, Joseph and Frank Lapointe were granted a series of patents related to broaches, broaching machines and key-seating machines. Joseph is considered the father of the broaching machine and Frank is considered the father of the hydraulic broaching machine. Lapointe Machine Tool and J. N. Lapointe broaching and key-seating machines were successful in the automotive and aviation industries.

In the post World War II era, Lapointe Machine Co. went through a period of labor unrest that culminated in unionization. The local head of the Steelworkers, however, initiated a "Scanlon Plan" management-worker partnership that was successful in easing relations and improving productivity. The company continued in success until the 1970s when they decided to close their Hudson, Massachusetts plant. The workers and local management bought the operations and kept it going. A decade later, the Lapointe company bought back the business and continued to operate it.

As of 2016 the Hudson location of Lapointe Machine Co. is owned by the Pioneer Broach Co., an acquisition that apparently dates from the late 1980s.

Information Sources

  • The 1902 Annual Report of the Board of the State Assessors of the State of Maine, in a "list of corporations organized in this State, for the year ending November 1, 1902": Lapointe Machine Tool Company, with a capital stock of $50,000.
  • 1904-04-14 The Iron Age.
    The Lapointe Machine Tool Company, Boston, Mass., are to remove their shop from 35 Hartford street to 32 Atlantic avenue, where they will have much larger quarters. The change will be made May 1.
  • 1904-07-21 American Machinist.
    At the annual meeting of the Lapointe Machine Tool Company, held at Portland, Me., on July 8, the following officers were elected: President, Jos. N. Lapointe; treasurer, J. Keyes Hall; secretary, Benjamin F. Levy. Business is very good at this company, especially on foreign orders. The officers are at 30 Atlantic avenue, Lewis Wharf, Boston, Mass.
  • 1905-03-25 The Automobile, in a report on an automotive show in Boston.
    An exhibit in the basement that was overlooked by many who would have been interested in it was that of the Lapointe Machine Tool Co., of Boston, whose keyseat broaching machine was shown in actual operation cutting keyways and broaching out holes of triangular, square or polygonal shapes. The cutter in this machine consists of a long bar of steel with teeth similar to those of a milling cutter formed on three of its four surfaces. The piece containing the hole which is to be broached or keyseated is placed in a chuck and the cutterbar is drawn through it by a powerful screw, the cutter-bar being held against the part to be cut away and fed to any desired depth up to the capacity of the machine. The shapes and sizes of cuts can be varied by using different cutters. The work done by the machine at the show gave an idea of the surprising variety of uses to which it can be put and the smooth, clean work done by the cutters. This company also showed a fine assortment of adjustable reamers, some being of large size.
  • August 1911 Machinery.
    Frank J. Lapointe has left the Lapointe Machine Tool Co. as superintendent and shop manager, and now holds the same position with the J. N. Lapointe Co. of Marlboro, Mass. ... J. N. Lapointe has left the Lapointe Machine Tool Co., Hudson, Mass., as president and manager, and now is connected with the J. N. Lapointe Co. of Marlboro, Mass., in the same capacity.
  • April 1914 Machinery.
    Lapointe Machine Tool Co., Hudson, Mass. Walter F. Rice, Joseph F. Owens, and their associates have taken over the common stock formerly owned by J. Keyes Hall and Joseph N. Lapointe. The officers of the company are Walter F. Rice, president; Joseph F. Owens, treasurer; and William P. Everts, secretary. The new management will put on additional men at once In order to make better deliveries.
  • Atlantic Reporter for December 7, 1916—March 22, 1917, gives a detailed report on Lapointe Mach. Tool Co. v. J. N. Lapointe Co.
  • Snippet from a 1928 Machinery.

    OBITUARIES JOSEPH N. LAPOINTE Joseph N. Lapointe, founder of the J. N. Lapointe Co., New London, Conn., and one of the pioneer manufacturers of broaching machines, was stricken by a heart attack while attending a performance at the Garde Theater, New London, on May 4, and died almost immediately. His death came as a great shock to his family and many friends.

    My. Lapointe was born in St. Hyacinthe, a suburb of Montreal, Canada, on March 31, 1863. He remained in St. Hyacinthe until he was seventeen years old and had acquired...

  • 1952-12-22 Life.

    The Lapointe Machine Tool Co. of Hudson, Mass. is the subject of a new "case study" by the National Planning Association. The Lapointe story started when Jack Ali, head of the Steelworkers' local there happened to read an article by John Chamberlain in LIFE (De. 23, 1946) entitled "Every Man a Capitalist." The Steelworkers had just organized Lapointe, and there had been a long and bitter strike. Chamberlain's article told how union and management at the Adamson Co., a small maker of steel tanks in Ohio, had got together around a remarkable plan which had more than doubled productivity.

    Inspired, Ali went to his executive committee, thence to management. They listened to the author of the Adamson plan, Joseph N. Scanlon, a former labor leader now on the industrial relations staff of M.I.T. Today Lapointe is Exhibit A for the advantages of the "Scanlon Plan," which, while no panacea, is one of the most hopeful developments in recent labor-management relations.

    The economic heart of the Scanlon Plan is a swap. Management gives labor an incentive for great productivity by guaranteeing that the whole work force will actually profit from labor savings. The union recognizes the company's right to profit from better use of its assets. Though plenty tough in its own interests, the Lapointe workers have come to share management's interest in sales and costs. At meetings on joint production problems, says the N.P.A., "an outsider has difficulty in distinguishing management from union. People concentrate on the problem." It has paid off for both sides; the workers get above-average income and Lapointe enjoys a better competitive position in the industry.

    It is easy enough to say that management and labor have mutual interests. Of course they have. The trick is for a specific union and a specific management to locate that mutuality and put it to work. When Scanlon plans are no longer news, we shall have licked the great problem of the industrial age, how to tame the machine for liberty and democracy. No socialistic regime can ever do half so well by force what free men do voluntarily. That is freedom's secret weapon.

  • From the 2008 book, Hudson by Lewis Halprin.
    The Lapointe Machine Tool Company, founded in 1898, movedt to Hudson in 1903 and developed into the world's oldest and largest producer of broaching machines widely used in manufacturing and machine tooling by the aircraft and automotive companies, as well as the automatic rifle and firearms industry.
  • From the 2012-11-27 Worcester Telegram in an article, "Generations touched after plant is kept open".

    ...When the Lapointe Hudson Broach Inc. plant in Hudson was going to close in the 1970s, a group of that company's employees, including certified public accountant Richard Romer, decided to buy the company and keep it going.

    Mr. Romer's daughter, Kathryn Voorhees of Millbury, said, "I was one of 11 children. A lot of employees had worked at Lapointe for a long time and had families to support. They couldn't afford to lose their jobs. They kept that plant going and then some. They sold it back to Lapointe in the late 1980s."

    ... The local business began with Joseph Napoleon Lapointe, a native of St. Hyacinthe, Canada. He worked at Benedict Brass Manufacturing Co. in Waterbury, Conn., then at Pratt & Whitney Co. There, he invented the Lapointe broaching system and the Lapointe broaching machine, which cuts square holes in steel and quickly became in high demand for automobiles around the world.

    Mr. Lapointe built the Lapointe Machine Tool Co. in Hudson in 1906, then sold that company in 1911 and opened J.N. Lapointe Co. in New London, Conn. Mr. Lapointe later opened plants that manufactured broach machines in New London and Marlboro.

    His son, Francis Lapointe, founder of American Broach of Michigan, is known as "the father of modern broaching."

    Lapointe Hudson Broach, a division of Pioneer Broach Co., uses state-of-the-art broach technology for customers such as Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd., Honeywell International Inc., Pratt & Whitney and Siemens Westinghouse, and is a leader in producing gun barrel broaches.

  • The website of the Pioneer Broach Co. has a page on their Lapointe Hudson Broach division: "The tradition... since 1902".