Asbury Carbons, Inc.
The American Industrial Revolution was well underway. The year was 1895. And in the quiet northwestern New Jersey town of Asbury, an important American enterprise was born. Harry M. Riddle founded what is today Asbury Carbons, Inc. He became a hard worker at an early age, doing chores on the family farm, and then walking some five miles to work at a general store. By the time he was 24, he was part owner of two general stores, one in Asbury, New Jersey, and another located in the nearby village of Hampton. He was also Asbury's postmaster. However, he had much greater ambitions, and when a friend told him about the wide applications of graphite and its untapped industrial potential he was determined to become involved in the business.
In 1895, Riddle leased an Asbury flour mill that was owned by a relative and powered by the swiftly flowing Musconetcong River. The mill had been built in 1865 to replace one constructed in the late 1700s. Riddle then hired a miller and transformed the operation so that instead of grist it now milled refined graphite, produced from raw material, some of which he bought from a small Rhode Island mine. Most raw graphite, however, was imported from Korea and Ceylon by New York City brokers. The barrels of raw graphite came by rail to a nearby New Jersey train station and transported the final miles to the mill by horse and wagon. Riddle called his new company Asbury Graphite Mills. To market his product, Riddle, not surprisingly, relied on the U.S. mail. He wrote letters to potential customers�foundries and manufacturers of such goods as paint and stove polish�and enclosed a sample. It proved an effective technique, as sales grew rapidly, from 36 tons of material to 144 tons during the first three years. Business was so strong that in 1903 Riddle paid $2,000 to buy the mill, and five years later bought another mill across the river. Known as "Plant No. 2," this facility would be continually upgraded and become the hub of Asbury's operation. The original plant, on the other hand, was used only intermittently and was finally closed in the 1970s.
H. Marvin Riddle III
Stephen A. Riddle