From Mark Twain's Investment to Today: The Rise of Webster Industries - Webster Industries, Inc

From Mark Twain's Investment to Today: The Rise of Webster Industries

July 27, 2023

Dubbed Tiffin, Ohio’s “Sweetheart Deal”, there is a remarkable story behind Webster Industries which begins with a well-known author taking a chance on a business that quickly becomes a modern day leader in numerous industries.

Webster Industries, Inc. was founded in Chicago, IL by Towner K. Webster. Webster grew up in poverty and with only a grade-school education scrapped his way into establishing a successful grocery business, which he sold to start a clothing store. The clothing store flopped and Webster needed to figure out what to do next.

With the recent development of the mechanical reaper, grain elevators were popping up all over the Midwest. Webster became fascinated by the invention of the “Common Sense” elevator bucket, which could carry large amounts of grain to the top of grain elevators. Webster saw an opportunity and set up shop in 1876. The market was good, the elevator bucket was easy to manufacture, and Webster’s operation was a huge success. 

Fueled by investors, including Mark Twain, the company continued to grow and branch out into other industries. After some initial roadblocks, Webster decided to keep the focus on the core grain business and developed more products, including heavy-duty chains and sprockets. 

In 1907, the city of Tiffin, OH was looking to expand its industrial footprint and began conversations with Webster, offering the company a substantial deal to relocate a portion of operations.  The paperwork was signed on Valentine’s Day dubbing it a "Sweetheart Deal;" And what a good deal it was for the city of Tiffin, ultimately becoming the company’s headquarters. 

Our Ingredients For Success

Today, Webster Industries has evolved into an innovative leader of engineered class chain, sprockets, and vibratory equipment. We now employ over 300 people nationwide and have facilities in Ohio, Mississippi, and Oregon. Webster’s focus has consistently been on American materials, American labor, and American pride. As an employee-owned company since 1986, Webster fosters a sense of unity and collaboration among our staff. The key to our success is making a difference through industry, work, self, family, and community.  

We continue to uphold our reputation by embodying our CARE values every day: 

  • Can Do Approach
  • Always Do What's Right
  • Respect Others
  • Everyday Grit

By incorporating these values into our work, Webster Industries aims to earn trust in the marketplace and instill confidence within the company.

Who We Serve

Webster Industries has been providing conveying solutions to a diverse range of markets for over 145 years. Following is a small sampling of the many industries we serve:


In the forestry industry, Webster Industries' welded steel chains are known for minimal maintenance and reliable service, making them ideal for the rugged and demanding environment of the forest products industry. We also offer belts, sprockets, vibratory conveyors, and processing equipment for this market.


For the grain industry, Webster Industries offers a wide range of engineered class chains and can even customize products to meet specific application requirements. En-masse drag conveyors, which utilize these chains, provide an efficient and safe way to convey grain products in grain processing facilities.


Webster Industries also caters to the recycling industry by providing durable and resilient conveying components. Our customized belts and screening products enable the transportation and separation of bulk materials such as paper, plastic, cardboard, and aluminum.


In the automotive industry, Webster Industries takes pride in being the leader of engineered class conveyor chains. From paint booth applications to final assembly conveyors, our designs are tailored to meet the specific needs of automotive manufacturers.


The harsh and abrasive nature of the asphalt industry requires conveying components that possess hardness, flexibility, durability, and quality. Webster Industries' asphalt chains are designed to withstand the wear and tear associated with this industry, ensuring efficient transportation of hot asphalt and other materials.

Amusement Parks

Webster Industries' expertise extends to the amusement industry. We design and manufacture top-quality chains for amusement park rides, taking into consideration factors such as high speeds, dynamic loading conditions, and the challenging environments in which these chains operate.

Into The Future

Despite incorporating automation into our manufacturing processes, Webster Industries remains an "old-school" operation built on our mission and vision. 

  • Our mission is to create superior value and tailored solutions for customers through empowered people, product excellence, and evolving processes. 
  • Our vision is to be America's leader in the design, manufacture, and processing of equipment components.

What sets Webster an edge over our competition? "It’s the high-quality product, high quality of people, and the service that we deliver to our customers that sets us apart," says Executive Vice President Dean Bogner.

Webster Industries also prioritizes sustainability and environmental responsibility. We have implemented several green initiatives in our operations, such as eliminating harsh oils and cleaners, utilizing water-soluble lubricants, reducing energy consumption by incorporating natural light, and sourcing recycled steel.

Looking to the future, Webster Industries has ambitious plans for growth. We aim to expand our product offerings, increase sales and marketing efforts, and acquire great companies to expand our customer base. Bogner envisions a 25% growth over the next two years, projecting Webster Industries to become a $125 million company.

Webster Industries, Inc. has come a long way since its founding in 1876 and the days of Mark Twain being an investor. Today, the company is a modern leader in various industries, providing conveying solutions to markets such as forestry, grain, recycling, automotive, asphalt, and amusement parks while prioritizing its commitment to American materials, labor, and pride.

Join The Fun

Ultimately, what employees enjoy most about working for Webster Industries is the company culture. We work hard and play hard, fostering camaraderie and a sense of belonging among the employees. With a strong commitment to our communities and employees, Webster Industries continues to thrive as a leader in the industry. To learn more about Webster Industries, visit our website today or give us a call (800) 243-9327.

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webster industries
Tiffin, OH
Newberg, OR
Meridian, MS

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