A Legacy of Excellence – Ajax/CECO/Erie Press and the Army-Navy “E” Award

A Legacy of Achievement

In the throes of World War II, the United States found itself in dire need of an industrial revolution unlike any seen before. The call to arms was not just for soldiers but for factories, workers, and innovators across the nation.

It was a time when the production lines and assembly floors became battlegrounds, integral to the Allied victory. Among the myriad of companies that answered this call was Ajax/CECO/Erie Press (ACE), a company whose name would become synonymous with operational excellence and unwavering dedication to the war effort.

During the pivotal years of World War II, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press (ACE)—at this time ERIE, epitomized the formidable capacity of American industrial might and ingenuity. Charged with the vital mission of producing essential war materials, ACE significantly overhauled its operational framework to fulfill the immense requirements of the United States military, a task that extended to the manufacture of forging hammers crucial to producing military equipment and artillery.

This undertaking was monumental, demanding not only an escalation in production to levels never seen but also an unwavering commitment to quality, ensuring that each piece of equipment could withstand the rigorous demands of warfare. Faced with these challenges, ACE stood resolute, with its workforce and machinery tirelessly pushing the boundaries of the feasible, exemplifying the company’s dedication to meeting and surpassing the expectations set before them.Top of Form

The recognition of ACE’s extraordinary efforts came in the form of the prestigious Army-Navy “E” Award. This accolade was far more than a mere decoration; it was a symbol of the company’s critical role in the collective endeavor to secure victory. The “E” Award signified excellence in production on a scale that went beyond the factory floor, affecting the outcome of the war itself. It was awarded to companies that demonstrated unparalleled productivity, innovation, and commitment to quality — qualities that ACE exhibited in every aspect of its operations.

Understanding the “E” for Excellence Award

  • Origins and Purpose: The Army-Navy “E” Award was established during World War II to recognize companies that achieved excellence in producing war equipment. It merged previous awards into a single honor that celebrated industrial mobilization and production prowess​​.
  • Criteria for Selection: Companies were evaluated based on several factors, including quality and quantity of production, overcoming production obstacles, maintaining fair labor standards, and training additional labor forces​​.
  • A Symbol of Distinction: Only 5% of over 85,000 companies involved in war production received this award, marking it as a symbol of exceptional achievement. Additionally, of the 5% awarded, only 1% were granted the elite Four Star Award​​.

A Proud Moment in History

Receiving the Army-Navy “E” Award was a moment of immense pride for everyone at ACE. It was a recognition of the company’s achievements and its people. The award ceremony was not merely a formal acknowledgment but a celebration of the hard work, determination, and spirit of innovation that characterized ACE’s contribution to the war effort. This was a time when the entire nation was mobilized towards a common goal, and ACE stood out as a beacon of industrial might and excellence.

The award ceremony was significant, featuring high-ranking military officers who presented the pennant and individual pins to employees. This moment was a recognition of past achievements and a celebration of the principles that continue to guide ACE.

ACE’s Commitment to Excellence

“The ‘E’ Award was a milestone for Ajax/CECO/Erie Press, recognizing our role in a critical historical moment and our support of the US  Armed forces. It’s a legacy that inspires us daily to strive for excellence in everything we do.” – Bill Goodwin, VP Sales and Marketing, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press.

In the present day, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press (ACE) cherishes and lives by the illustrious legacy of the Army-Navy “E” Award. This honor is far more than a relic of the past; it is a beacon that lights our path forward, a daily reminder of the extraordinary feats we can accomplish with unwavering hard work, steadfast dedication, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. It’s a legacy that challenges us, inspires us, and drives us to set new benchmarks in everything we do.

  • Operational Excellence Reimagined: At ACE, the legacy of the “E” Award is not just a historical footnote; it is the cornerstone of our operational philosophy. The principles of quality, innovation, and efficiency that once earned us this distinguished accolade now fuel our relentless pursuit of excellence in every project, every innovation, and every customer interaction. We are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, leveraging cutting-edge technology and strategic thinking to set new industry standards.
  • Empowering Communities and Employees: Our recognition goes beyond the confines of our company walls. We understand that our strength lies in the hearts and minds of our employees and the communities we serve. Honoring the legacy of those who contributed to our success during World War II, we are committed to fostering a culture of empowerment, recognition, and development. We invest in our people, providing opportunities for growth, learning, and leadership. By doing so, we pay tribute to the past and pave the way for a future where every employee can achieve their full potential.
  • A Legacy That Inspires Action: The story of ACE and the “E” Award is a powerful narrative of triumph against adversity, innovation against the odds, and commitment to a cause greater than oneself. It’s a narrative that continues to inspire our team, partners, customers, and the broader community. We are proud to carry forward this legacy, translating the spirit of the “E” Award into actions that resonate in today’s world—actions that drive us toward sustainable practices, community engagement, and the betterment of society.

Our commitment extends beyond the confines of our operations to the broader community, where we strive to make a difference, inspire future generations, and uphold the values that earned us the Army-Navy “E” Award.

A New Chapter in Our Story

Reflecting on this proud chapter of our history, we are inspired to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible. The Army-Navy “E” Award is not just a part of our past but a guiding light for our future, symbolizing our ongoing commitment to excellence, innovation, and the American spirit.

“We are immensely proud of our history and the ‘E’ Award. It’s a testament to our employees’ skill, dedication, and hard work, past and present,” reflects Ernie Lauber, President of ParkOhio, underscoring the deep-seated values that drive us forward.

Today, the enduring legacy of the Army-Navy “E” Award continues to be a beacon of inspiration for Ajax/CECO/Erie Press (ACE), embodying the timeless principles of operational excellence and innovation that steered the company through the arduous years of World War II. This legacy is not just a reflection of ACE’s pivotal contribution to the war effort but also a testament to its ongoing journey of excellence, innovation, and an unwavering resolve to make a meaningful impact in the world.

Looking forward, we are not merely preserving a legacy; we are actively building upon it, integrating the lessons of the past with the present innovations. Our commitment to excellence remains as strong today as it was during those defining years of World War II. It is with this spirit that we are excited to announce our current undertaking: the development of three new press lines. This ambitious project directly reflects our commitment to meeting the needs of today’s industries with the same dedication and excellence that characterized our contributions during World War II.

In every endeavor, in every innovation, ACE continues to live out the legacy of the “E” Award, pushing boundaries and setting new benchmarks for what it means to excel. Our journey is a continuous pursuit of excellence, inspired by our history and propelled forward by a vision that seeks to redefine industry standards and enrich the world. With the initiation of our new press lines, we are honoring our past and forging a future where ACE remains at the forefront of industrial innovation and operational excellence.