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Celebrating 80 Years of Service

Schad Boiler Sign

This year Schad Refractory is celebrating 80 years of service.

To honor this accomplishment, we are excited to share with you highlights from Schad’s 80 years of service. Below you will see a timeline of events featuring key employees and projects, along with photos and videos dating back to the founding of Schad in 1942.

The founding of Schad Refactory

The Founding of Schad


Phillip “P.G.” Schad was born in 1888 in Bradford, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky.

The third youngest of eight children, P.G. moved across the river where he developed his skills as a bricklayer and met Alice Lillian, she went by Lillian, who he married in 1914. In the 1920’s the young couple migrated north as many others in their region did, seeking the opportunity promised by the industrial boom underway in what would become the country’s “Rust Belt.” P.G. and Lillian initially settled in Flint, Michigan, where he worked as a bricklayer and project superintendent for companies including DeWitt Company and A.P. Green.

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Celebrating 80 Years of Service at Schad Refractory

A video of the Schad Greenfield office as narrated by Phillip and Lillian’s son, and the next president of Schad, Jim.

portrait of James Ross "J.R", Second President of Schad Refractory

The Second Generation of Schad

James Ross “J.R.” Schad – President

James Ross “J.R.” Schad was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1922. He grew up hunting and fishing with his father, Schad founder, Phillip, and developed a love of the outdoors that would last his lifetime. J.R. attended and graduated from Mackenzie High School on Detroit’s west side.

Shortly after graduation, J.R. enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where his upbringing as an outdoorsman paid off and he achieved the status of “Expert Marksman”. Before long he was deployed to the Pacific Front of World War II where he served courageously in many of the war’s island conflicts.

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A Look at One of Schad Refractory’s First Major Projects

In honor of Schad celebrating its 80th year, we bring to you a video detailing one of Schad’s first major projects, the University of Michigan’s incinerator plant. Jim, the son of Schad’s founder and later Schad’s president, narratives the video.

Bo Calvin and Bob Lutz of Schad Refractory

A Growing Company and a Growing City

Bo Calvin – Schad Salesman – Project Manager

Bo Calvin began his career in the refractory industry in the early 1950’s as a bricklayer apprentice. “I began my apprenticeship in 1952 and completed it in 1956,” he said at a recent lunch at Miller’s Bar in Dearborn, Michigan. Right after he completed his apprenticeship, he decided to join the Army where he served two years of active duty and four years in the reserves.

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Schad Dave Sullivan

Great Lakes Foundry Boom!

Dave Sullivan – Schad Salesman – Project Manager

Dave Sullivan began his career as a bricklayer at Schad in 1963.  Some of the earliest jobs he remembers were at the sewage plant and at Marathon Refinery.  He came up through the trade working on projects primarily for Bo Calvin (featured in last month’s newsletter), and Jim Schad (featured in the February 2017 newsletter). After making it through these initial assignments Dave recalls coming up working at Dundee Cement and McLouth Steel.


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Schad workers

From Battlefield to the Brickyard

Terrell “Tex” Jarvis – Schad Salesman – Project Manager

Although he was born in Tennessee, Terrell Jarvis, was known throughout Schad, exclusively as “Tex”.   After serving in the US Army Signal Corps in WWII, Tex crossed paths with Schad founder, Phillip Schad, and was brought on as one of the company’s early employees.

Through the relationships he formed within and outside of the Schad organization as well as his service to his country when it needed him the most, Tex left a lasting impression on his company, industry, and family.

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Schad workers

Schad Foreman – The Early Years

Throughout the years, Schad has been very fortunate to have many highly competent foremen running its projects out in the field. The foreman role is one of the most critical required to successfully completing a project. Foreman are responsible for delivering on the promises Schad makes to its customers and they aren’t always easy promises to keep. The foreman are responsible for project execution which means that they are responsible for safety oversight, schedule compliance, installation quality and the means and methods used to place and install materials.

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Schad workers

The “Up North Crew” – A Long Standing Schad Tradition

Throughout its history, Schad has been very fortunate to have a significant population of clients as well as employees north of the Zilwaukee Bridge on I-75, or as Michiganders call the area “Up North”. These employees have represented Schad in iron foundries, chemical plants, mineral processing operations, power plants, and other specialty manufacturers with pride and with a spirit of friendly competition with their Detroit area counterparts since the beginning. This month, we take a bit of time to honor a few key members of the “Up North Crew” and their contributions to Schad.

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Schad workers

The Detroit Foreman

Living in Detroit — Working Nationwide 

Schad has been very fortunate throughout its history to have employed the services of several incredibly hard-working and talented foreman. In August, we highlighted some of Schad’s earliest foreman, last month, we showcased several key contributors to our “Up North Crew,” and this month we feature a few of Schad’s key Detroit bricklayer foreman. Although these individuals resided in the Detroit area, they left their footprint throughout the entire United States through their contributions to their craft as well as to their company, Schad Refractory.

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Image of Gary Bright

Gary Bright - With Schad Since 1978!

For nearly the past forty years, a lot of people have come and gone and a lot of things have changed, but one constant in Schad’s warehouse has been mechanic/driver, Gary Bright. Gary started at Schad in April of 1978. Things have changed a lot since he started. “Back in those days, there wasn’t a lot of training. You learned on the job. Somebody told me, get in that truck and go to Cleveland. That’s how I learned to drive a truck,” he remembers.

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Phillip Schad and his son

The Third Generation of Schad Leadership

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the third generation of Schad leadership began to take shape.  After forty years of service by Phillip Schad and his son, Jim, the next generation of leaders would be found in Jim’s two son-in-laws, Jim Choate and Dick Lee.  These two brother-in-laws are who many of Schad’s current customers, partners, and employees have recognized as the leaders of the organization for more than thirty years.

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