While working in the C. E. Lipe Machine Shop, located on Geddes Street and considered an early business incubator in Syracuse, Montague began producing a hulling machine invented by the Brazilian, mechanical engineer, Evaristo Conrado Engelberg in 1885. The machine could remove the husks and shells from rice and coffee beans.
From this venture, the Engelberg-Huller Company was formed and Montague manufactured the machines in the building from 1888 to 1897. By then, the company, whose trade largely consisted of exports, required larger quarters and moved to a new plant at West Fayette and Ontario streets.
During 1885, Engelberg, of Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil, received a British patent for a rice-hulling machine.
After strong development of his business, in June 1885, Engelberg partnered with Earl Siciliano to found Engelberg & Siciliano which was headquartered in Piracicaba and originally produced the machines for Brazilian farmers.
Three years later, on December 27, 1888, Engelberg, applied for a United States patent for the rice and coffee-hulling machine. U.S. patent (number 424,602) for a rice-hulling machine, was granted on April 1, 1890. With this machine, hulling and polishing, which removes different layers below the husk, could be done in several stages "during the same passage," a process that automated a manual task.
By 1890, Engelberg patented several models of these machines in the United States and Europe. The device was highly successful because the "stripper" did not squeeze the coffee beans, and removed all the straw while maintaining the beans' integrity, producing a higher yield for coffee growers. The maintenance of the machines was also quite simple and inexpensive, which was advantageous, because the main method for cleaning coffee still depended on slave labor in mills.
Charles E. Lipe, mechanical engineer and Syracuse entrepreneur, was the patentee and Engelberg Huller Company was the assignee on two hulling machine patents granted in 1894. These were identified as "hulling and cleaning machine."
During 1888, as international demand for his machine increased, Engelberg partnered with José Tibiriçá to create a branch of his company in Syracuse, New York, known as the Engelberg Huller Company, which was organized for the purpose of manufacturing and selling the "Engelberg huller" in North America. The huller was quite successful, and additional patents were granted to the firm for various improvements over the years, including the model with patent number 879,211, patented jointly with Willard Halstead and is shown in the photo on this page.
Production in Brazil was halted in 1890 and by 1922, the machines produced in Syracuse began to be shipped and sold in Brazil, as well as other parts of North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Central America.
The ninth annual meeting was held at the principal office of the company at 208 South Geddes Street on May 25, 1897. Company treasurer was A. A. Schenck.
The fourteenth annual meeting of the company was held on February 3, 1902 at the principal office of the company at 831 West Fayette Street at 2:00 pm. A. A. Schenck was secretary.
During March 1904, the firm had ventured into grinding mills and the Halstead Attrition Mill, invented by brothers Willard and John G. Halstead, a die casting foreman at the H.H. Franklin Automobile factory was awarded several U.S. Patents (#812,737, #874,764 #879,211). It was advertised as the "most perfect and efficient for grinding all kinds of cereals." The mill was especially adapted for grinding corn on the cob or shelled, corn and wheat mixed and rye.
By May 1904, A. A. Schenck had just completed arrangements for the extension of the plant at 831 West Fayette Street, at the corner of Seneca Street. The company owned the property at the rear of their building extending along Seneca Street through to Marcellus Street. The new building was 16 feet (4.9 m) wide by 103 feet (31 m) long and extended to Marcellus Street and was constructed of brick and iron and two-stories tall. The establishment used it as a storehouse. That same year, John R. Montague was president of the company.
The firm was exporting machinery to Central America, South America, India, the Philippines, China, Japan, Russia and Africa by May 1910. There had been an increase in orders for machines from India and Brazil.
Leo Griffith Meldram, son of Attorney and Mrs. Charles J. Meldram, started on June 16, 1912, on a trip around the world for the Engelberg Huller Company. He had been employed for the establishment a little more than a year. Meldram was one of the youngest men who ever started out from Syracuse on a similar trip. He was only 24 years old and intended on being gone three years, possibly five.
Meldram sailed from New York City on the steamship Campania for Liverpool, England and from there to Bombay, India by way of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea and Arabian Sea. Later, he traveled to Burma, China, the Philippines, Japan and returned by way of San Francisco.
President of the company, John R. Montague, said that this was the first time in several years that the company had sent a representative around the world.
In July 1948, the Engelberg Huller company, whose main office and plant were in Syracuse, acquired the "modern" one-story factory building formerly occupied by Churchill Corporation in Chittenango, New York. The plant was "thoroughly retrofitted" with a wide range of modern machine tools and an active machine jobbing business was established. The principal activity was the manufacture of precision machined aircraft parts, an activity which the main plant in Syracuse conducted almost exclusively during World War II.
The firm was also engaged in the production of parts for several other large manufacturing concerns in the area and employed a number of Chittenango's machinists and other skilled workers. The main activity in the Syracuse factory was still the production of rice and coffee processing machinery. Since it was founded in 1889, the company was considered the leader in this type of equipment in the world and the bulk of its output was exported to "far away places where coffee and rice are grown."
During the twentieth century, the Engelberg Huller Company began to make grinders plus belt and disk sanders, all intended primarily for metalworking and woodworking. On March 23, 1953, Leo Schaller, patentee, and Engelberg Huller Co., Inc. as assignee, applied for U.S. Patent 2,791,070 which was granted on May 7, 1957 for an Abrading machine (woodworking or sanding machine).
By August 1953, John T. Schenck was president of Engelberg Huller Co., Inc. Between 1957 and 1971, the company name was shortened to Engelberg, Inc. and by 1971 the name had changed again, to Sundstrand-Engelberg, Inc. of Liverpool, New York. During 1974, the name changed to Sundstrand Syracuse, Inc. of Syracuse, New York, and Sundstrand Corp. of Rockford, Illinois.
By 1990, Engelberg hullers were still widely used in small mills for milling rice for local markets. The hullers are still in use in many parts of the world. As of 2011, the Syracuse-based branch of what was the Engelberg Huller Company continues to produce hullers and associated parts.was Engelberg Huller Company was sold to an agricultural equipment manufacturer located in Nicholson, Pa. in 1976. CEO and Owner in 1976 was James Solon. Engelberg Huller Co.,INC is still operating a manufacturing plant in Nicholson, Pa., exporting Engelberg spare parts and equipment.