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The Founding of Schad Refractory

Phillip “P.G.” Schad – Founder

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 bricklayerThe founding of Schad Refactory 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.

Before long, the family made their home in Detroit, Michigan. Eventually, and just in time for the industrial boom associated with WWII, P.G. developed enough confidence and contacts to go into business on his own.  In 1942, with a “pick-up truck and two laborers,” as P.G. famously told the story, Schad was born.

The first projects consisted primarily of building and maintaining boiler fireboxes, foundations, and refractories as new industrial facilities in and around Detroit popped up or expanded. They also serviced boilers throughout the city’s schools and commercial buildings. Before long, the company moved into its first formal office at 140 12th Street in Detroit (the office, Phillip Schad, and the famous Mrs. Mitchell who faithfully served Schad for decades are featured in the accompanying photograph).

As the company continued to grow, it branched out to take on larger projects in a greater number of industries.  By the early 1950’s, the company was working on heat treat furnaces throughout the city as well as heaters at the nearby refineries in Detroit and Toledo. This growth led to the acquisition of Schad’s first “permanent location” which included office space and a warehouse facility in Detroit’s Westside on Greenfield Road. The original building is near where the company is located today. The Greenfield office is featured in the accompanying video which is narrated by Phillip and Lillian’s son, and the next president of Schad, Jim.

P.G. continued to serve as Schad’s president until his death in 1957.  Phillip Schad is remembered for his skill as an outdoorsman and his love of hunting and fishing, being a “man’s man,” and being liked by everybody. One of his granddaughters, Mary Choate’s, earliest memories is of P.G.’s funeral. She thought it was strange that everybody was laughing at such a somber affair. In hindsight, it seems appropriate for the kind of guy that Phillip is remembered as and the company that he kept.  Following his father’s passing, Jim, who had been working for his dad since his return from WWII, bought the company from his mother, Lillian. He continued to care for her until her eventual passing in the 1970’s, and with help from a growing cast, continued to increase the geographies and industries it serviced.

In honor of Schad’s 75th Anniversary, the organization would like to acknowledge the courage, sacrifice, values, and hard work exhibited by its founder, Phillip Schad.