GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.
Have you heard of Fulfillment Corporation of America (FCA), later known as Kable Fulfillment Services? Many today have not.
The company was founded in Marion in 1948 by two forward thinking businessmen—Wendell Ward and Edwin (Jack) Kinter, who worked together in Chicago for Time Inc., developing a unique database management system before the word “database” was known.
They first came to Marion, renting a building at 382 W. Center Street to form their own company, because of the rail service. The company grew serving the publishing industry in managing subscriber data information. Through the years, they had part of their operations at various Marion locations, including 136 South Prospect Street, 126 Blaine Avenue, numerous downtown locations along West Center Street, 173 Oak Street, and an office for their Defense Division in Dayton to serve the Wright Patterson base. By the late 1950s, they grew to open an outbound mailing operation, as well as clerical operations. They even formed another division, INELECTRON, to try to build a commercial computer in the 1950s but, unfortunately, that division ran out of money.
The fulfillment business prospered and, by 1960, there was a mainframe computer on their third floor at the Center Street location–the first in Marion. Fulfillment soon expanded and installed additional mainframes to handle the expanding customer data. By the 1960s, they were running 24/7 and FCA rented time from other companies. By then, they maintained databases totaling over 25,000,000 households. At its peak, the staff on the payroll, which averaged 200 to 300, in the 50s and 60s and grew to 500 to 700 in the 90s.
This staff of quality people supported all facets of Marion, from being the highest per capita donors to United Way to being active with many others. It was a sad day when Kable closed, after 60 years of operation. But, for those 60 years, FCA was the gold standard of community support and the MarionMade! spirit and needs to be remembered in Marion’s business history.