New London Glassworks
During the JABO, Inc. Contract run era beginning in 2008, as not only a member of the first contract crew to participate in this new JABO, Inc. endeavor, Rick Hall remained the point man of the most prolific investor group throughout the era. He, along with investors in his crew decided to strike out on their own in an attempt to make their own marbles. A machine purchase negotiation with Dave McCullough from JABO, Inc. occurred. Now having their own machine, the business arrangement with this new entity and the beginnings of a new production site in New London, Ohio, would go awry. Having to start over on his own with no machinery, Rick was undeterred in fulfilling his dream of producing his own marbles. Years had passed and by 2019, Rick, along with a friend and investor in his JABO contracts, would again negotiate the purchase of yet another machine from JABO, along with furnace block and other equipment. Site preparation and construction ensued. From the very beginning of this second attempt, it was never a question of who was the key in making this venture a success. That key individual was considered the most experienced, knowledgeable and successful marble machine operator of the day, and his name is Richard McKnight. Richard had been the lead operator, as well as becoming plant maintenance technician for JABO, Inc. He had operated for Sammy's Mountain Marbles and was currently the machine operator for Dave's Appalachian swirls, as well as shift leader for Marble King marbles. At that point in time, the dust had barely settled over the departure of Dave McCullough and Richard McKnight from JABO, Inc. The split was not an amicable one. Rick Hall's involvement as the catalyst in the split, not only created animosity from Dave, but also resulted in a rift within the marble community, leaving both Dave and Rick as well as many marble enthusiasts, on opposite sides of the proverbial fence.
Rick and Richard were never much more than acquaintances during the contract run era and had not spoken since Richard's departure from JABO. With the two now on opposite sides of the fence, concerns over animosity, trust and even the feasibility of the idea seemed daunting. An approach to a dialogue would be difficult. With the help of a mutually trusted intermediary with confidence and insight into both parties and their potential to come together, these issues were largely swept to the side and an initial meeting took place, resulting in a mutual agreement to the possibilities.
Richard, being the stand-up man that he is, was left but a few unresolved issues, mainly, the potential conflict of interest and possible feelings of betrayal from Dave McCullough. Richard informed Dave of the idea, to which Dave responded in agreement, requiring only Richard's preferential commitment to future scheduled operations at DAS.
In October of 2021, site preparations were nearly complete, and the building of the furnace began under Richard's direction. It was commented that Dave McCullough offered tips and advice in regard to the construction of the furnace. It was an interesting 'Water under the bridge' moment.
On May 21, 2022, New London Glassworks produced its first test run with varying degrees of success. A second test was produced on June 18, 2022, and it became evident changes were needed in the gas delivery system. On July 4, 2022, a third run proved the gas delivery was now well within operating parameters, though other bugs would need addressed. Rick, having financed much of his new phase of his hobby, would need to take a break. However, a short test was done the following November without the direction of Richard McKnight, resulting in what Rick would describe as a failure, as well as a lesson learned, being they weren't ready to operate without Richard McKnight at the helm.
Further endeavors will be recorded as the history unfolds.
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