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Like many American corporations, Shelby Business Forms Inc. started small.
In 1896, Mr. Henry Sheets purchased a heavily-mortgaged newspaper.
The Richland County Republican, which was published twice weekly.
He immediately changed its name to the Shelby Republican and made it
a weekly publication.
Mr. Sheets’ main interest was in the newspaper business, but included
in his purchase was a job printing department. After a short time, he found
this department receiving more and more of his thoughts and attention.
Noticing that most of the local merchants were keeping their sales records
on scraps of paper, he conceived the idea of a duplicate sales book, and
in 1898, the Sheets Printing Company was born.
Many were the problems and difficulties that lay ahead. On December 9,
1902, live coals from the stove, which was used to keep the pressroom warm,
fell onto the floor, and all his hopes and dreams went up in flames.
Undaunted, he moved to a new location, and in a few months was back
in operation.
Disaster struck again in April, 1903. Excessive rain caused the river to
overflow, and three feet of water went flowing through his plant. After the
water receded, the plant was cleaned up, new stock purchased, and
production resumed.
For the third time, the young company was dealt a devastating blow. During
that same fall, the rains came again, and again the water was flowing freely
through his plant. Being unwilling to call it quits, in a short time operations
were again resumed. However, plans began formulating to erect a building away
from the flood area.
On July 16, 1904, The Shelby Printing Company was incorporated. That
same year a brick building, 40’ by 80’, was built on our present site.
Since that date, our growth has been steady and healthy. The birth of one of
our famous books, the Shelbytrip, revitalized our Company and gave us new
impetus in 1911-1912.
In 1918 we acquired the simple Account Salesbook Company of Fremont,
Ohio, and changed our name to The Shelby Salesbook Company. By 1937
constant research and introduction of new products and machinery resulted in
the need of additional manufacturing and administrative facilities.
Within ten years, engineers were once again surveying the grounds for much
needed expansion, and in 1947 much needed space was under construction.
On January 25, 1963, we acquired the name, Shelby Business Forms, Inc.
That same year Management began thinking seriously of another expansion
program. After many months of planning, their thoughts and ideas began
to materialize; and on August 4, 1964, ground was broken for the largest
single expansion in the history of our Company.
In 1967 we became a subsidiary of GAF Corporation and in 1968 became a
division of this fast growing Company and acquired the name, GAF Business
Forms. June 1, 1979 UFORMA Inc. purchased the operation and returned
the name to Shelby Business Forms Inc.
Several new products have been introduced recently, including optically
scannable price tickets, and a number of new business forms for use in
hospitals and financial institutions.
Today, from that very humble beginning, approximately 750 employees
are engaged producing almost every type of business form in the industry-and
it is being done with the most up-to-date equipment available-and in one
of the largest and modern printing plants in America.
–from 75th Anniversary book of The Shelby Salesbook Company – 1904 – 1979
Henry E. Sheets firmly believed that there is a plan in life in which we
have a part. This can best be explained by one of his quotations, “Our
whole future as successful men and women depends on the foundations
on which our life is built.” It was this motivating force plus his rare
ingenuity that was chiefly responsible for the founding of The Shelby
Salesbook Company.
Henry E. Sheets passed away on Wednesday, July 25, 1956, but he
left behind an indelible mark on the history of our Company.
Born of Dutch and German parentage, in Ashland, Ohio, on March 18,
1865, Henry E. Sheets was destined to a life of ups and downs, sorrow
and joy, hope and disappointment; but with it all, he found a great deal of
pleasure in the long season granted to him by his Maker on this earth.
During Henry’s youth he always had a job—even if it meant digging
ditches. These tough, tiring jobs, without a doubt, had much to do with
building up the tremendous stamina in a man, who was to need every
ounce of fortitude contained in a human body, during the early years of
his business career. Henry’s extra efforts, and the encouragement of his
father, enabled him to complete one year in college during the difficult
period of the “Eighties,” which meant many sacrifices.
In 1887, at the age of 22, Henry Sheets witnessed a serious accident
in Ashland, and it was his account of this accident, that opened up an
opportunity for him in newspaper work. Starting as a correspondent
for the Mansfield Herald, he later obtained work with the Pittsburgh Post,
leaving there to work for the Marion Star under Warren G. Harding.
After about a year and a half, Henry Sheets went back to the Pittsburgh Post
for a short time, then returned to Ashland to become a partner in the
Ashland Gazette. The excitement of the times in the newspaper business,
led him into work with special edition newspapers in many States.
In 1890, he purchased the Richland County Republican, and set up shop
in Shelby as the Shelby Republican.
As a part of the newspaper plant, there was a job printing department.
In the first year of operation, Henry made the first sales book ever produced
in Shelby, for a local grocer. He became interested in the production of sales
books and soon found himself engulfed in the salesbook business.
Henry Sheets is credited with developing the Shelbytrip style of
Triplicating Salesbook, Protecto-Tint, and being the stimulating urge
behind many other developments. His greatest achievements, however,
were in the field of selling. He devoted himself to the difficult problems
of the large accounts. Many of his customers are still served by The
Shelby Salesbook Company. Here again, was an ideal, simply stated
in one of his quotations, “Reputations are built on honesty and an
honest delivery of the things promised. Growth is only possible where
there is no deviation from the things which are pleasing to the customer.”
“The Company began on ideas,” he said, “and it is my belief that
the controlling element that makes for final success is the continued flow
of new ideas.”
Over the past half century in which Henry E. Sheets was associated
with this Company, he held the offices of Vice-President, President,
Director, and Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Even to the end of his career, the past was history to Henry Sheets, and
the future held bright prospects. He continually looked ahead unselfishly,
and his participation at the meetings of the Board of Directors,
exemplified the rugged character of a very unusual man.
–from 75th Anniversary book of The Shelby Salesbook Company – 1904 – 1979
SHELBY (OH) NEWS, Friday, 23 Jul 1897 – SHEETS, Mr. Henry of this city
married WAGONER, Miss Jeannette J. of Ashland OH on Monday evening,
Wellington OH.
SHELBY (OH) NEWS, Friday, 17 Jun 1898 – SHEETS, Mrs. Janette died
the home of her mother (Mrs. Thomas WAGGONER) in Ashland OH –Friday.
She was a teacher in Ashland schools for many years & married last July to
Henry E. SHEETS.
DAILY GLOBE, Shelby OH, 17 Jul 1900 – Announcements were made
of the wedding of Henry E. SHEETS & Miss Lida Marie WOLFE, which
occurred on 4th Jul at Gambier OH. A reception will be held on 24th July
at the home of Mr. & Mrs. John WOLFE, her parents.
Obiturary Abstracts –
Henry E. Sheets; bn. 18 Mar 1865 –Ashland OH; d. 25 Jul 1956 –Shelby OH;
member St. Marks Episcopal Church; Founder of Salesbook Co. &
owned the Shelby Republican newspaper. Survivors: wife Lida; 2 daus.
Mrs. Robert Bussom & Mrs. Donald Kinsell; 1 grandson Robert S. Bussom,
all of Shelby; Burial Oakland Cem.
Mrs. Lida M. Sheets of Shelby OH; bn. 5 Apt 1878 –Shelby OH; d. 10 Dec
1964; Widow of Henry E. Sheets; Survivors: dau. Mrs. W. Robert Bussom
of Shelby; a grandson Robert S. Bussom of Columbus; a great granddaughter;
a sister Mrs. Marie Jollay of Winterhaven FL; Burial Oakland Cem.
The above articles originally appeared in the Shelby Spirits Newsletter
and were contributed by the Shelby Genealogy Society.

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