August 30, 1876
Frank D. Stranahan born St. Louis, MO.
Spencer W. Stranahan born, NY.
July 7, 1886
Young Robert Allen Stranahan, who was born July 7, 1886, in Buffalo, New York, was a member of Harvard Class of 1908. To say he was smart and competitive might be an understatement. He set a new record at Harvard, completing his four year A.B. course work in two and one half years.
Image courtesy S. Stranahan
The Tremont Garage Company: 541 Tremont Street; Frank Stranahan as President and Treasurer.
Located in Cyclorama Building in Boston's South End, presently headquarters for the Boston Center for Fine Arts. A bronze plaque outside the Cyclorama Building marks the spot. Frank D. and Spencer Stranahan were listed in city directories as working at the Tremont Garage from 1905-1907.
June 20, 1905
Albert Champion Company: 533-545 Tremont Street; FD issued the first stock certificate for 51 shares, the majority, but Albert Champion signs the certificate as president.
November 16, 1905
Advertisement seen in The Automobile, page 36. The Albert Champion Company, 541 Tremont St., Boston, Mass., IMPORTERS, Inexpert Patented Spark Coil, Ignition Wire, Guaranteed Oil Proof Magneto, Low and High Tension Spark Plug. Everything for electrical ignition. Sole U.S. AGENT.
Image from 1905 Automobile magazine
Albert Champion was first listed in the 1906 Boston city directory. His address was given as 541 Tremont and no business affiliation is listed.
June 20, 1906
FD receives certificate #5 for 15 shares.
Image Courtesy S. Stranahan
October 1, 1906
Stranahan, Eldridge Company: 541 Tremont Street; W.E. Eldridge was President and FD was Treasurer. In the classified section of the 1907 Boston city directory, the company is listed as Stranihan (sic) & Eldridge in the automobiles dealers section.
Family says: FD Buick Dealership on Commonwealth Ave., Boston (No confirmation)
Also: 190_?? Tremont Automobile Company, Dr.: 541 Tremont Street; Rentals
Image courtesy David Killey
Albert Champion’s line of work was given as "automobiles" and the address was 541 Tremont in Boston city directory. Robert, prior to obtaining his degree, left Harvard in February 1907 with a leave of absence of a year and a half. This gave him an eighteen month head start in business on his class mates from Harvard. According to him he “wasted” the first six months of his leave trying various lines, including real estate, before settling in with a job with his brothers at the Albert Champion Company in Boston in about August. May 1907 advertisement (see right) for Gianoli High Tension Magneto.
Albert Champion Company was listed in city directory at 36 Whittier Street in Roxbury. Spencer Stranahan handled manufacturing and Frank Stranahan was the finance man. Albert was listed as manager. Frank was listed as treasurer at 36 Whittier, no business was given. Robert was listed as a clerk at the same address. Spencer is no longer listed and Stranihan (sic) & Eldridge has moved to 823 Boylston Street. The Tremont Garage continued in business at 541 Tremont Street.
Spark Plug Collector’s Guide, Vol 1, C. Bergbower, page 18, from Cycle and Trade Journal, March, 1908: Albert Champion Company Ad, 38 Whittier Ave.,Boston, Mass.
In October, 1908 the Champion Ignition Company was formed in Flint, Michigan by Albert Champion, Albert Schmidt, and W.C. Durant. Albert Champion began making spark plugs in a third floor room of the Buick Factory.
January 4, 1909 Spencer U. Stranahan died and Robert Stranahan became manager of the Albert Champion Company. Also in 1909 the Albert Champion Company introduced the “X” spark plug while still in Boston, but never used the “word mark” of “X” on their plugs until early 1911. The simple CHAMPION name was used on the early plugs.
Boston city directory listing for Albert Champion Company; automobile supplies, 36 Whittier Street in Roxbury, address; Robert was listed as manager. Frank was listed as president at 394 Atlantic Avenue,in 1909 and treasurer in 1910. Stranihan (sic) & Eldridge has moved to 9 Harcourt Street (1909). There is no listing for Stranahan, Eldridge or Stranihan & Eldridge after 1909.
Frank was listed as treasurer at 394 Atlantic Avenue, no business listed.
Image courtesy S. Stranahan
Robert was still listed as manager at 36 Whittier in early 1910.
Champion Spark Plug Company: In Spring, the remaining two brothers moved to Toledo, Ohio, initially located on upper floor of the Holmes Snow-Flake Laundry building to be closer to the Willys-Overland Auto Company.
The Tremont Garage in Boston continued on after the Stranahans left.
July 2-13, 1910
Champion Spark Plug Company: initial capital of $30,000; On July 2nd, 1910 The first 3 share certificates were issued to Fred Baker, Burton Ames and Randolph Frothingham. Fred Baker signed as president and Frothingham as Treasurer. On July 10th, Messrs. Baker, Frothingham and Ames signed over their shares to Robert Stranahan, Frank Stranahan, and Charles Walker. Shares show RA as President, FD as Treasurer.
Image Courtesy S. Stranahan
Some other smaller partners, but by June 1911, FD and RA have equal shares. Drew, Stranahan, Hussey Company and a Franklin Manufacturing Company are absorbed by Champion Spark Plug. In 1911, Ford bought 200,000 spark plugs from Champion and also, in 1911 a law suit was filed by Albert Champion, GM and Durant against the Champion Spark Plug Company over the Champion name. The case was settled in the 1920’s in Champion Spark Plug’s favor.
Robert and Frank Stanahan
January 31, 1912
Lizzie, Elizabeth Whitehall Stranahan, mother to the Stanahan brothers, was issued 1000 shares, making her near equal to the holdings of her sons.
By 1912 Champion claims to have provided the spark for 75 percent of all American cars and Champion spark plugs were being exported to Europe from first the United States and subsequently Champion Spark Plugs Canadian subsidiary. In 1922 the Champion Sparking Plug Company Ltd. was set up in the United Kingdom.
By 1914 Champion Spark Plug Company was producing 25,000 spark plugs a day (more than 50% of the U.S. market) and at Champion Ignition Company, the competitors, Louis Chevrolet was working as a consultant and its representative in the race track pits on AC Spark Plug matters during the 1914 racing season. A couple of years later the Chevrolet – Champion relationship fell apart in a famous physical fight between Louis and Albert.
From 1909 to 1936, Albert Champion Company (Champion Spark Plug) and Champion Ignition (AC) were the only significant spark plug producers in the United States, and they accounted for all spark plugs installed as original equipment in vehicles, and for more than 90 per cent of all plugs made and sold in the United States.
Champion Factory 1915
Albert Champion Company advertisement. The Automobile, page 36, November 16, 1905.
Feeley, Patricia. Reference Librarian, Social Sciences Department, Boston Public Library email dated 9/1/2005.
Stranahan Chronicles. Stranahan Family Document.
Stranahan, Robert A. Secretary’s Second Report: Harvard College Class of 1908, page 297, June 1914.
Champion Spark Plug Logo Timeline Chart
Stranahan Companies Graphic Timeline
Robert A. Stranahan Memorial
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