Celebrating 40 Years of Service

Chief Officers of CDA Inc.

George M. Hartley

Robert M. Payne

Andrew G. Kireta, Sr.

Picture this: An elevator in a metropolitan hotel. Its passengers include an architect, an urban planner, a plumber, a contractor, a grant writer. They are strangers, but in several hours, they will be exchanging ideas and, very likely, business cards.

In Manhattan, another elevator transports men in business attire to a meeting where they will learn about new ways to expand their businesses, including initiatives from which all can profit. They know each other. Some are competitors; some are colleagues from the same firms. All have a shared interest.

The professionals at the hotel are attending a seminar on new concepts for constructing and renovating public buildings and associated public spaces. Some of the technology and applications are standard; some are spanking new. The research and development employed to marry these applications can be adapted to existing projects as well as create a new art form. The buzz is strong. There is excitement in the air. Questions run the gamut-and right through lunch.

Meanwhile, the executives are seeing results from the long-term investment of their capital and sweat equity in projects representing the modern market for their products in building and construction, renovation and preservation. Marketing professionals are presenting a promotional campaign. There is a healthy debate on the pros and cons of the venture and how to insure it will be a winner. Concepts and proposals are everywhere; charts accompany slides. The buzz is electric.

The common thread between these two groups? Copper.

The catalyst? The Copper Development Association Inc.

The time? 1963, or '73, or '83, or . . .

For 40 years, the Copper Development Association Inc. (CDA) has served as a bridge between the people who mine and market copper, who fabricate and sell copper and copper alloy products, and those who use them in myriad applications. Those users include the scientists and engineers who develop new alloys and applications, the manufacturers of everything from mixing bowls to missile components, the architects, engineers and contractors who build buildings, the first-time homeowner enjoying her dream house, the arts organization seeking an avant-garde approach to its new complex that will showcase environmental achievement along with its sculpture, the microbrewery that wants to recreate the warmth of an old-time saloon with the efficiencies demanded by a modern brewmaster.

And, of course, CDA's reach is as fundamental as it is innovative. Communications, plumbing, lighting, heating, building construction, transportation, power in all forms-that's grass roots copper use. And while other materials have challenged it, the red metal and its alloys remain a cornerstone of life on this planet.

Art imitates nature,
and necessity is the mother of invention.

- Richard Franck -

Industrial America ran full throttle during The Great War, its manufacturing businesses geared to armaments and transportation to supply U.S. troops in Europe. A great amount of capital was invested, and great amounts of raw materials were required, creating stockpiles of proportions not seen before in the budding century.

Peace brought a serious dilemma to the metals industry: What to do with all that copper? For the brass mills that produced plate, sheet, strip, tube, pipe, bar, rod, wire and shapes of copper, brass and other alloys using more than 40% copper, that surplus was an economic nightmare in the making. Simply put, there were not enough uses for their products to consume the supply.

In 1921, the Copper & Brass Research Association, CABRA, was formed to tackle this problem. Its initial efforts focused on product advertising, publicity and research. Electricity generation, of course, was a crucial market. But, American homes were dominated by iceboxes rather than refrigerators, air conditioning had yet to make its mark, and the durable goods sector, as we know it today, was in its nascent stages. Even the automobile, a major consumer of the red metal and its alloys, was just catching on.

Moreover, the great shifts in the American economy posed a daunting challenge to CABRA. Post-war prosperity was still around the corner. So it was to the association's credit that its promotional efforts were so successful. The surplus shrunk and disappeared.

The next step was the one that would transform the copper and brass business. Research. Everyone was doing it. Metallurgy was on the brink of exploding on all fronts, as mining became more technologically structured and the companies that brought copper out of the ground developed their own brass and wire mills and marketing infrastructures.

In 1933, a new, rival organization was formed by the brass mills, shortly after enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The Copper and Brass Mill Products Association took aim at areas not being addressed by CABRA, areas mandated by the new legislation. Its first initiative was to establish and administer a Code of Fair Competition. The Act was invalidated in 1935, but the association continued to operate as the brass mill industry's trade association, working in areas other than research, promotion and publicity, the domain of CABRA.

On April 30, 1940, the curtain went up on a new venture, the true forerunner of CDA. At a joint meeting, the two associations merged under the name of CABRA. The array of tasks was awesome: research, product promotion, publicity, technical issues, statistics, general information, industrial relations, traffic and standards. Standing committees were made up of specialists in these respective fields. Their work was coordinated through an executive committee that reported to CABRA's board of directors. Overseeing the association's operations was a paid Manager-the operating executive-and his staff.

How does one single out a particular committee or activity above another? A very difficult job, indeed. Each of the pieces of CABRA fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle, an interdependent organization relying on its parts to assure its whole was as effective as humanly possible.

Research and standardization, however, seemed to carry the torch. The Technical Committee reviewed problems and issues relating to the manufacture and utilization of the mill products its members produced. It initiated research projects to seek answers to problems. Without its own laboratory, CABRA relied on cooperative efforts, either with a college or university that had both the resources and interest in the problem, or by referring the issue to the mills' own labs, basing the final report on a consensus of their findings.

Research and standardization expanded CABRA's reach by publicizing results in special reports and pamphlets widely circulated among engineers, contractors, apprentice training institutions and technical schools. A booklet called "Copper and Health" broke new ground when it dispelled notions of copper's toxicity and reported on the metal's benefits to human health. In more traditional fields, handbooks were published on the use of brass pipe and copper water tube, sheet copper for roofing, pipe and tube bending, corrosion studies and methods for joining copper and its alloys.

The Committee on Standards faced its own awesome task, developing a central clearinghouse for an enormous trove of information. This 20-year project to develop comprehensive standards for brass mill products was published in a "Manual of Standards," including physical and chemical characteristics of the 40 most commonly used copper based alloys, standard dimensional and related tolerances for all the principal brass mill products, product terminology, weight tables, and other estimating data.

The American Standards Association accepted the Manual of Standards as ASA standards. CABRA worked closely with other standards groups whose work related in some way to the brass mill industry, especially the American Society for Testing Materials, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Society of Automotive Engineers. To keep its standards as current as possible, CABRA worked with these groups as well as government agencies and other similar specification-writing bodies. Indeed, along with eliminating inconsistency and ambiguity in specifications, CABRA wrote the authoritative definitions for copper, brass, bronze, and all of their alloy offspring.

What do you read, My Lord?
Words, words, words.
- William Shakespeare -

Of course, it was not enough to do research and write reports and keep them in the "family." Just as promotion had worked to shrink the post-war copper surplus, public relations would be the messenger to the rapidly industrializing nation. CABRA covered the waterfront with periodicals, news releases, industry letters, booklets, handbooks and leaflets for general and technical readers. Articles were prepared for non-industry publications.

Two quarterly publications were the association's heralds: the Copper & Brass Bulletin, and Brass and Bronze Forgings Digest. The Bulletin, a 16-page magazine designed for the general reader with a circulation of 45,000, was distributed to the media and educational institutions, as well as executives, purchasing agents and technical personnel of basic industries. Illustrated articles covered topics like electronics, solar heating, missiles, home improvement, decorative art, communications and air conditioning and refrigeration.

Non-technical booklets were aimed at the average American, appealing to present needs and future plans. "Your Dream House," "Copper: the Oldest and the Newest Metal," a comic book format aimed at young people and distributed in schools were among the titles. And, not straying too far from its main mission, CABRA offered "A Guide to Copper and its Alloys," a 24-page reprint of a series of articles that classifies the alloys and provides their characteristics and applications.

Through its field representatives and staff members, the association provided the personal touch via direct communications. Field representatives attended meetings of trade, engineering and contractor groups, worked with municipal leaders for the improvement of local building and plumbing codes and participated in apprentice training programs. Staff members lectured to private and professional groups about the work of the brass mill industry or specific sectors. Field inspections were provided to answer construction concerns.

Clearly, CABRA respected the tradition of most trade associations, keeping a relatively low profile while assisting its members with their own promotions and, above all, promoting copper and brass. Campaigns were devoted to specific industries, like automotive or construction. A notable series on copper drainage tube DWV for soil, waste and vent lines targeted publications read by plumbers, plumbing contractors, specifiers and others with an interest in building materials.

In 1959, copper industry executives formed a sister organization, the Copper Products Development Association, later to be known as the International Copper Research Association. INCRA's mission was research and its scope worldwide.

The times, they are a-changin'
- Bob Dylan -

It's 1963. The United States is led by the youngest president in its history. We have survived the threat of a missile attack from Cuba. But there is plenty of unrest along with prosperity. Peace at home requires economic stability and social equality. And there was a war on the other side of the world that no one wanted to talk about very much.

Those consumer durables so sparsely dotting the American landscape when brass mill executives formed their first organization were in every home by the 1960s, sometimes in more than one room. Teenagers demanded their own telephones. There was an extra refrigerator in the basement-the old one did just fine for cold beverages and party goods-and maybe a stand-alone freezer. A one-car family was becoming as rare as a home without a Beatles record.

In 1962, impelled by the changing times and stagnating copper consumption in a rising economy, several top executives among the copper producers undertook an ad hoc study on how to reinvigorate CABRA's efforts and revitalize copper promotion and usage in the USA. The result: A certificate of incorporation for a new Copper Development Association was filed in New York on June 1, 1962, and the first meeting of its incorporators and board of directors was convened a few weeks later on June 28. CABRA's brass mill member companies soon joined the producers en masse, to firmly establish the Association.

In April of 1963, the new organization tapped a veteran executive to head it up. George M. Hartley was a metallurgical engineer with a broad international background in sales, manufacturing and general management. After a tour in the Navy during World War II, Hartley joined the General Electric Co. During 16 years with G.E., he held key executive positions in materials engineering, sales and plant management. He was marketing manager for G.E.'s metallurgical products department. In 1961, he crossed the Atlantic to become president and managing director of an international group of companies in the specialty metals and chemicals field, based in Switzerland. Two years later he was back home, taking the helm of CDA.

This was an age of activism. And this shift was not lost on the copper industry. Building upon the best of CABRA and moving forward, the new organization would reflect not just the needs of today, but the opportunities of tomorrow. For the Copper Development Association, the time had come.

If you build it, they will come.
- Field of Dreams -

Chrysler Building, N.Y. 1963-1983

In July 1963, CDA officially took over CABRA activities. As Executive Director, Hartley assembled a team of professional staff members with sterling credentials in their respective businesses. Market development managers were responsible for industry sectors, their staffs specializing in their respective areas. Duplication was avoided. The result was a core of experts whose expertise was well regarded internationally.

Activities were directed to five key end-use markets-building construction products, transportation equipment, industrial machinery and equipment, electrical and electronic products, consumer products-through prototype development and strong technical and communications programs.

The mandate was simple and direct and remains in place today. As the advanced market development and engineering services arm of the U.S. copper and brass industry, the CDA had four main objectives:

  • To create new business opportunities for its members by expanding the markets for copper and its alloys
  • To defend existing copper markets against substitution by competing materials
  • To provide technical support to the customer industries in their use of the copper metals
  • To service its member companies with a comprehensive program of market data and research and with other services in support of individual-company standards, industrial relations and safety programs

A new dynamic was in operation everywhere. Creative forces were at work. True innovation was exploding on all fronts. Ideas were debated, brainstorming was required and part of the job description. These forces, separate and together, ignited in the 1960s as CDA did its part to change the world.

In fact it established relations with other copper organizations around the world as well as at home. Groups like CPPC, the Copper Promotion Producers' Committee and its successor, CIDEC, the International Copper Development Council, were to weave in and out of CDA's mainstream efforts for years to come. And what were those efforts?

Rather than confine itself to meetings, press releases and reports, CDA broke from standard trade association practices by creating full-scale prototypes to stimulate new markets. This hands-on approach enabled users and potential users of copper and brass to see the metals close up and personal.

The first prototype was a double-hung window in silicon bronze. It demonstrated economic feasibility, that silicon bronze could be welded without undesirable color variation for easy finishing. CDA also developed decorative plywood panels with a choice of patterns in copper stripes, manufactured by Georgia Pacific under the brand name Copper Inlaid Vintage Fir.

The following year, it went CABRA one better. CABRA's Copper Drainage Tube DWV, used for soil, waste and vent lines, was supplemented by Sovent, a unique drainage system that eliminated the need for a separate vent pipe. Some say the name was short for Soil-Vent. Others claim it was named after the Swiss inventor of the system, Franz Sommer. Ten years later, there were more than 25,000 dwelling units using all-copper Sovent in high-rise and low-rise buildings.

But these utilitarian, commercially accepted prototypes could not match CDA's next venture for sheer scale, drama and yes, glamour. The Mercer-Cobra sports car, created by CDA in 1965, was a lesson in automotive manufacturing that was visually stunning. The "copper car" utilized the metal and its alloys throughout its construction, in traditional applications as well as new, innovative ones and others that were simply an art form. The car featured copper disc brakes, copper-alloy brake lines, exterior brass trim on the radiator grille, muffler shield, exhaust, wheel covers, rear bumper and taillights, as well as electrically-operated, swing-out headlights. Elegance was the byword for the interior. Trim on the console, door panels and instrument panels all featured the metal. The car was exhibited around the world. As a marketing tool, it won raves.

Two years later, CDA supplied prototype copper brake discs to a leading automobile manufacturer after they had been evaluated in a dynamometer test program. Tests showed that a chrome-copper alloy is well suited for automotive disc brake use.

Following up on this success, CDA established a program to develop a market for newly developed copper alloy brake line tubing with strengths equal to coated steel tubing. The new alloy combined fatigue strength with corrosion resistance to the salt used on snowy, icy roads in winter.

Taking the decorative theme to the building industry, CDA helped develop doors paneled with embossed copper that were suitable for homes, schools and offices, and a prototype composite bronze curtain wall of light-gauge bronze sheet wrapped around extruded aluminum framing designed for low-rise curtain wall specifications. These cooperative ventures would set a new standard for metal industry and industrial consumer partnering.

Long before CDA, brass was a staple in saloons of all stripes, from decorative railing to spittoons. While the association was demonstrating copper's functionality in the sublime, it turned its attention to the utilitarian. The CDA team knew the value of consumer purchasing power. Copper's design potential was established in high-end decorative accessories and art. But making them more accessible to Middle America fell squarely into the mission of CDA, and it took the message to both manufacturers and retail merchandise managers. Several full-scale prototypes were commissioned in 1967 to demonstrate the aesthetic and functional properties of copper, brass and bronze. These products included a decoratively etched copper skillet, a toaster/grill, Teflon-coated copper service vessels, salt and pepper shakers, a canister set and a cocktail set.

Copper's ability to resist corrosion was studied extensively in CDA's first decade. In 1968, the association built a test plant in Freeport, Texas, to compile corrosion data for 12 copper alloys in a desalting environment. One major finding showed that copper-nickel and aluminum bronze alloys led the field in performance over the entire range of environments. Another test showed the best copper alloy evaluated at the plant had a minimum service life of more than 39 years, with most alloys exceeding 25 years.

Cost-competitiveness as well as endurance is an ongoing issue in the world of metals, with copper facing off in many roofing applications against steel and aluminum. "Tough 12" was introduced in 1969 to compete with stainless steel sheet and other flashing materials.

The decade closed with yet another new vehicle, this one a prototype directed at pollution and environmental quality issues, issues that were becoming the top concern of the American public. The pollution-free Copper Electric Car I was the prototype for electric taxis, small buses, utility trucks, postal vans and delivery cars, and marked CDA's entrance into a field that would face a range of successes and failures across the metals and power spectrum in the years to come.

The CDA tag and label program was created that year, offering at no cost string tags and pressure-sensitive labels to identify solid copper, brass and bronze products to qualifying manufacturers. Its results can be seen today in manufacturers' promotional claims to quality signifying "solid copper" and "solid brass."

The CDA Standards Handbook was the first of more than 100 user-oriented publications. Categories ranged from application data sheets, technical reports and standards handbooks to product handbooks, annual data booklets, reports and reprints. Today, this library includes videotapes and films. CDA uses the publications in its market development and engineering services work and makes them available in quantities to individual companies for use in their own programs.