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Hydrotile dedication and open house for former employees and community

By Bob Steenson, [email protected]

A dedication and open house for a new building containing an original Hydrotile machine along with memorabilia from its days of operation will be held on Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Old Bradford Pioneer Village Museum east of Nashua.

Prior to the closing of Hydrotile Machinery Co. in June 1991, the company served as a major employer for Nashua and the surrounding communities.

Hydrotile dedication and open house for former employees and community
This drawing is part of the approval for patent No. 3,829,268, awarded Aug. 13, 1974, to Hydrotile Machinery Co. in Nashua, for a “concrete pipe machine with triangular frame.”

In 1948, Navarro “Nav” Fosse started the Nashua Tile Co. with $600 he saved from the Army, according to Fosse’s obituary in the Charles City Press, printed after he died on Feb. 23, 2016.

“After three years of making drain tile, he invented a machine to make larger tiles, which he soon sold to a company in Minnesota. He built a second machine, which immediately sold to another customer, and he soon realized there was more opportunity in the machinery business,” the obituary said.

The Nashua Tile Co. became Hydrotile Machinery Co., which grew to over 300 employees with facilities in Nashua; Woodstock, Ontario; and Crucuius, Netherlands.

Fosse received eight patents for inventions he made for the concrete pipe industry.

“He and his wife, Snick, traveled to over 45 countries attending trade shows and making sales calls for the company, building Hydrotile into a leader in the industry,” the obituary said.

Black Clawson Co. of New York City bought Hydrotile from the Fosse family in 1974.

A statement in May 1991 by Black Clawson and International Pipe Machinery Corp., an Iowa firm with plants in Sioux City and Boone, said International Pipe had acquired “certain assets” of Hydrotile from Black Clawson and would be shutting down the Nashua plant because of “the effect of the economic downturn on the construction industry that our companies serve.”

According to news reports at the time, there were about 70 employees working at the plant when it closed.

The factory opened about a year later under the ownership of Featherlite Inc., making aluminum trailers including those used by NASCAR legends such as Jeff Gordon, but closed again in 2002 in the economic downturn after 9/11.

Donations from the Fosse families and former employees supported the construction of the new Hydrotile building on the museum grounds, preserving the history of the company for future generations.

The grounds and the new Hydrotile building at the museum will be open for viewing beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

A dedication with guest speakers will be held at 1 p.m. with a light lunch following in the museum’s Community Center.

The museum is located on Highway 346, 1 mile east of Nashua and next to the Little Brown Church.

Reservations for the dedication and lunch are requested by contacting Don LaRue at 641-330-7091 or [email protected]

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