Forged a Rubber Connection

Although its main customers were breweries, the company already was forging a connection with rubber products by supplying corks, bungs, keg-filling lines, pitching machines and other rubber products to breweries. By the 1920s, with Prohibition depleting demand for brewery supplies, the company began to expand into industrial supplies and mechanical rubber.

But the beer industry continued to play a strong role in the company's fortunes. Convinced that Prohibition would be repealed eventually, Korfmann bought two Wisconsin breweries — the Berlin Brewing Co. in 1920 and the Stevens Point Beverage Co. in 1924 — and also invested in hops fields in Washington.

Korfmann remained a prominent figure in brewing circles. When he died in 1941, he was president and treasurer of Stevens Point Beverage, treasurer of Berlin Brewing and vice president of the Old Port Brewing Co. of Port Washington, as well as a member of the Master Brewers' Association of America.

But the company strove to diversify and become less reliant on the brewing industry. It took a step in that direction as early as 1918, when it started supplying rubber hoses for anhydrous ammonia handlers. That, in turn, led to its status as the first Wisconsin distributor for B.F. Goodrich rubber products, a relationship that lasted for decades.