William E. Malpass, born January 8, 1863, grew up in Quarry, a small settlement in southwest England. In 1879, upon the realization that education and employment opportunities were limited, W.E. Malpass – a brave and courageous young man – set off to North America when he was 16 years of age. After two months, he finally reached Quebec, Canada and worked for a Canadian railroad company in exchange for transportation until he reached Port Huron. There, he began working for Richard Ward Round, a successful Iron Master. Malpass started as a wood cutter and then worked as an apprentice iron worker with Round. During the time he spent working with Round, Malpass formed a relationship with Round’s daughter, Alice Ann. When the Round family decided to move north in the 1880’s, Malpass moved with them and was married to Alice in 1882. Round wanted to help the newly-wed couple have a secure future, so Round established a partnership with Malpass and created the Round & Malpass Foundry in 1883, later known as East Jordan Iron Works (EJIW), and currently known as EJ.
The foundry in East Jordan manufactured products for the lumber, marine, agricultural, and railroad industries. When there were no more trees to be cut down, the lumber companies left and EJIW had to find a way to survive. W.E. Malpass made sales trips to Detroit, Chicago, and other areas around Michigan; and, by the 1920’s, fire hydrants, water valves, and street castings (known as access solutions) became EJIW’s core products. The “sense of civic responsibility” in W.E. Malpass’ business philosophy is said to be what kept the East Jordan Iron Works stable through the depression. In the 1930’s and 40’s, management was transferred to William’s three sons – the first of four transitions between Malpass generations.
EJIW aided in World War II by providing equipment for hoisting, machine tool parts, flasks for bullet press moldings, and other castings. In the 1960’s, modern equipment was installed, which gave the company a competitive edge. The automated molding equipment was called the “Taccone Line”. The installation of the Taccone Line created a boost in production and employment, nearly tripling each. The Iron Works never slowed down; they made advances such as installing the company’s first computer in 1965 and opening another production facility in Ardmore, Oklahoma. By the 1970’s, 30-40 percent of American foundries were eliminated, but the Iron Works remained a leader in infrastructure manufacturing.
East Jordan Iron Works underwent re-branding in 2012, and is now known as EJ. It was a way to give the companies around the world one uniform name. Currently, EJ is led by Fred Malpass and managed by fourth and fifth generations of the Malpass family. Production facilities are located in Oklahoma, Ireland, and France, and they supply products to over 150 countries around the world. East Jordan is proud to have such as strong, family business in the town, as it has provided jobs for a lot of residents. Those living in East Jordan joke that they will never be homesick, because they can go almost anywhere in the world and look down at the street and see their town’s name. For the citizens of East Jordan, home is where the access solutions are.