It All Started With a Challenge
In 1948, Navy pilot and golf enthusiast L.S. "Gunna” Holmboe Jr. graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Business.
Eager to get to work, he started working with his father L.S. Sr. as a maintenance director for 200 rental units. Realizing it was only busy work he soon grew tired of the simplicity of the job and started looking for something more challenging than fixing roofs and mending fences.
L.S. Sr., seeing his son's dissatisfaction, came up with a new project -- to simplify the manufacture of wooden shores using metal clamps. This new product would eliminate the time spent measuring and cutting lumber to support the formwork for pouring concrete and L.S. decided to call this "The ELLIS CLAMP,” so named for "L.S.”
Just two Ellis Clamps and two pieces of lumber would allow a totally adjustable shore, saving time and money in his construction business. He went to his son with a $10,000 loan and a proposition – sell the Ellis Clamps and see what comes of it.
"But if you go in the red, you can forget it,” he said.
L.S. Holmboe Jr. would never forget, needless to say, because the Ellis Clamp took off like a shot. From his basement, L.S. Jr. worked to create the clamps using a machine he designed himself and soon he hired an assistant to help. It was far from the last hire the company would make.
Before long, L.S. hired his assistant and a welder to work for him full-time and designed another machine to bend the metal into a rectangular shape. Though his first order was small by today’s standards – only 200 – it put him hard at work and in just a week, the Hughes Construction Company had their Ellis Clamps. They were happy to have the product, and they weren’t the only ones who saw the exciting future offered by the clamps.
"I sent out some sales literature and received a lot of interest." he said. "Including that of my father."
L.S. Sr. saw the value in what his son had created and asked his contractors up North to take a look. The orders increased and soon enough, L.S. Jr. was hiring more men, renting more space and rolling up his own shirt sleeves to keep the orders filled. His father set up distributors in several cities, with many contractors placing orders of 1,000 at a time – a big leap from the basement.
"Our first large order was from a big contractor named Volpey Construction in Malden, Mass.," he said. "This was a big step, to make 2000 clamps in two weeks."
Now that orders for Ellis Clamps were on the rise, so much so that men worked two shifts daily making clamps, L.S. Sr. started the Ellis Equipment Company, which would later become Ellis Manufacturing Company, Inc, in 1951. Response for the clamp was so positive that father and son decided to invest in a patent for their invention, specifically allowing only Ellis Manufacturing Co., Inc. to legally make the Ellis 4x4 Shore Clamp with only one weld.
In 1956, a new headquarters was built at 4803 N. Cooper Ave. in Oklahoma City to house the burgeoning enterprise. Sadly, before it was completed, L.S. Sr. passed away. Thankfully, he lived long enough to see his dream of operating a family business to come true. And L.S. Jr. stayed true to that dream, bringing his first son, Brent Holmboe, into the business in 1973. Brent is now President and responsible for operations, increasing productivity and expansion of the Ellis Manufacturing line of products.
Ellis Manufacturing Co., Inc. currently ships shoring and concrete forming materials to all 50 states, and looks forward to new challenges in the demanding business of commercial and residential construction, mining and search and rescue industries.
Over the years, the Ellis product line has grown significantly. In addition to the Ellis Clamp, the company offers Screw Jacks, the 36-inch Guardrail Stanchion “Slab Grabber” and other Guardrail Systems, Column Forming Clamps and more than 40 other products in its line of shoring, bracing, and formwork materials.
Innovation is the key, President Brent Holmboe said. Ellis is dedicated to improving their existing products, developing new tools, ideas and products for customers and continuing a legacy of excellence for the construction industry.
In addition, as a small, family-owned company, Ellis can stay adaptable in their focus on customer satisfaction.
"We try to listen to what our customers concerns are and are willing to modify our products to fit their needs," Vice President Clay Holmboe said. "Not only do we sell standard shoring, bracing and guardrail materials, but we can also customize products to fit specific needs of our customers."
Using on-site punch presses, iron workers and welding machines, Ellis has the ability to quickly manufacture standard and customized products. Ellis has also established relationships with manufacutreres in other countries to offer imported products and materials. And since Ellis owns their own building and all of the equipment, they can operate with low overhead costs and offer its customers quality products at reasonable prices.
In business since 1951, Ellis has 59 years of experience and expertise to offer customers.
On April 20, 2005 at the age of 81, after months of health complications, and surrounded by his family and friends L.S. "Gunna" Holmboe Jr. passed away. Gunna will always be remembered for having an incredible sense of humor and an exceptional love for his family and friends. His contributions to this company are unprecedented and he will forever be missed.
Thank you for reading and learning more about the history of our company. For more information please call 1.800.654.8311 or Email Us. Ellis Manufacturing is located at 4803 Cooper Avenue in Oklahoma City, Okla.