Class of 2002

Albert H. Abendroth
Born February 12, 1867, in Neulobitz, Pomerania, Germany, Albert came to the U.S. in 1883 at the age of 16 and located in Detroit. He traveled north to Reed City, Michigan, looking for employment in woodworking. In 1886 William Horner, who ran a planing mill surfacing white pine lumber, gave him a job. He worked there for two years and then went to work for Frederick Robbins in his white pine operation. As the white pines were dwindling in the area, Robbins moved his operation to Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Albert, not wanting to leave Reed City, devised a plan with William Horner to start running maple flooring in the planing mill. To gather experience, he worked a year for Nichols & Cox in Grand Rapids running maple flooring. He returned to begin producing maple flooring for Horner in 1891.
 
Recognizing a need to standardize grading and milling, William and Albert joined with other maple flooring producers to form the MFMA in 1896-97. Albert was active with the association, helping to develop product standardization. Between 1891 and 1900, Albert developed the first single-pass flooring machine, similar to the ones still running today. He was honored for that achievement by the MFMA in 1946.
 
In 1914, Albert was charged with the task of building a new plant for Horner in Newberry, Michigan. He ran this plant for five years. This "state of the art" plant produced more flooring than any other single mill to that time.
 
Albert left Horner in 1919 to form Robbins Flooring Co., assisted by his son Paul W. Abendroth. Other officers included Frederick Robbins and Bill Caldwell. Albert converted a planing mill in Rhinelander to run maple flooring. The new company became members of the MFMA shortly after its formation. Albert and Paul bought out Robbins and Caldwell in 1922. Albert's son Walter joined the business shortly thereafter.
 
In 1927 Robbins Flooring Co. bought the Horner flooring mill in Newberry. They ran two mills continuously until 1946, however, the Newberry mill partially burned in 1938 and was rebuilt and resumed operation in 1939. After the fire temporarily closed that mill, Albert, Paul, and Walter needed to make up for lost production so they bought a mill in Gladstone, Michigan, and operated it until 1944. Robbins, under Albert's reign as president, owned and operated three mills from 1938 to 1944.
 
Albert retired in 1944 but could be found in the Rhinelander mill quite often after his retirement. He died September 30, 1954, at the age of 87.
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