H.F. Coors China Company
In 1910, the Horold China and Pottery Company was built at Golden, Colorado. It was financed and fostered by Adolph Coors, President of the Adolph Coors Brewing and Manufacturing Company. John Harold, who first attempted to produce art pottery and later extended his efforts toward the making of porcelain cooking utensils. Due to one cause or another, this venture failed and the Harold China and Pottery Company closed in 1914.
On January 1, 1915, Mr. Adolph Coors directed his sons, Adolph Coors Jr. and Herman F. Coors, to reopen the pottery company and make it a success. Herman F. Coors, the founder of H.F. Coors China Company, was born in Golden, Colorado on July 20, 1890. He attended both grammar and high School in Golden, Colorado. He later entered Cornell University, graduating in 1915 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Neither Adolph nor Herman Coors had any previous knowledge of ceramics or the manufacturing process of china. However, they had at their disposal, the facilities of one of the finest research laboratories in the West located at the brewery. Their raw materials were analyzed and bodies were compounded until a suitable mix was developed from local raw materials of which there proved to be abundance. The new company was named the Coors Porcelain Company.
In August 1915, the first order for 144 small pieces of chemical porcelain was received. I took just six months to fill this order. The manufacturing of chemical porcelain required a special knowledge and technique that these men had to acquire through research and study. They then imparted this information to their organization. Under this handicap was launched an industry that produced commercially, a chemical porcelain ware for the first time in the United States.
In 1915, the Coors Porcelain Company consisted of one kiln. By January 1, 1922, they had twelve kilns with an output of over a million pieces annually of 320 various shapes and sizes. They employed 120 people, none whom had previous pottery experience before joining the Coors organization.
By 1917, when the United States entered World War I, the Coors Porcelain Company was in the position to supply our government, the munitions plants, and the host of industrial laboratories with quantities of chemical porcelain sufficient to meet their requirements. Coors Porcelain was equal to the Royal Berlin, which formerly had been the standard. Before the war, Germany had a worldwide monopoly on the manufacturing of chemical porcelain.
On February 1, 1922, Mr. Herman F. Coors gave up the management of the Coors Porcelain Company to go to Los Angeles and develop a valuable clay deposit, which he had already acquired. His plan was to organize a company on the West Coast for the manufacture of hotel china.
Compounding a commercially workable china body requires the use of two, three, or more clays, along with silica and spar—with each of these materials playing a special part. While carrying out a preliminary survey of raw materials and markets, several opportunities were presented to Mr. Coors to begin the manufacturing of china. However, because of his unfamiliarity with local conditions and raw materials, he would not entertain these proposals.
An opportunity presented itself to establish and direct a new research laboratory for the Alberhill Coal and Clay Company, developing new uses for Southern California clays. Mr. Coors saw the opportunity of searching Southern California for raw materials suitable for the manufacturing of china. After eleven months of research with Southern California raw materials, Mr. Coors developed formulas for china bodies, and glazes, equal to the finest Eastern and European products. He then felt that he was qualified to successfully manufacture vitreous china for the hotel and restaurant industries. In 1925, he opened the H.F. Coors China Company, Inc.
When Herman retired in 1946, the company was passed down to his son, Robert Coors. Robert ran the company for 32 years. In the early to mid 1970’s, renovations were started on a new office building and warehousing facility. New and exciting changes were also occurring in the factory with a new kiln being built.
In 1978, Robert Coors decided to retire, the company was sold to Standex International Corporation, and the Inc. was dropped from the company name, becoming H.F. Coors China Company. Two types of product were being manufactured- Alox china products (flatware) and Chefsware oven and serveware (hollowware). Though flatware was beginning to sell, through the mid 80’s, hollowware was the company’s main “bread and butter.”
In 1988, H.F. Coors purchased a state-of-the-art tunnel kiln, enabling us to fire at the various temperatures required. The new kiln also gave us the freedom to program the changes to occur automatically.
With the 1990’s came a change in the direction. The sale of ALOX china was beginning to displace the sales of the Chefsware line. Two (2) new lines were added to the existing ALOX China shapes: Classic Rolled Edge and Metropolis. New and innovative restaurants were popping up everywhere, all wanting a unique and exciting setting and atmosphere for their patrons. Solid colored china was the rage for trendy establishments. H.F. Coors was and is a leader in the manufacturing of solid colored flatware that is fully vitrified.
Throughout recent history, Coors has been one of the only restaurant china companies to offer custom, hand-painted designs on its china. Many unique, higher end restaurants take months developing their own special design with the help of our Art Director. These designs are then applied in vibrant, lead-free, high fired, durable colors to the different china pieces specified by the restaurant.
In 2003 Catalina China, Inc. of Tucson, Arizona, a 100% Made in USA restaurant china manufacturer, purchased the assets of Coors. Over the summer of 2003, the entire factory, 195-foot long kiln and all were moved from California to Tucson. It took over 90 trailers, each more than 50 feet long, to move all the equipment, tools, molds, and inventory.
Catalina China, Inc. and its English sister company in England, Simpsons (Potters) Limited, had been making china for more than 100 years at the time of the Coors acquisition. The business continues as “H. F. Coors, a division of Catalina China, Inc.” and continues to manufacture and supply the most durable, colorful and creative china shapes and designs possible from its new home in Tucson. Its products are sold nationally to restaurants, homes, and to American companies who decorate HF Coors blanks, such as coffee mugs, and products coated with a polymer for dye sublimation decorating.