From a one man beginning, to providing jobs for nineteen people. With a customer list of some Fortune 500 customers and producing plastic parts for them. Sales in millions of dollars. Catharo realized the story of “Stone Soup.” Only, instead of using a stone, he used a fourteen-ton injection-molding machine that he got from the Phillips Petroleum Company for one dollar. Catharo currently resides in the east side of Milwaukee and is going strong at the age of seventy-nine. He is currently working and marketing his book. His goal is to share his story so that others may take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them while they are growing up.
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Catharo Brown was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a small oil town that was like a lot of small towns in the south at that time. He spent his early childhood with his mother and older brother Levert. After their mother and grandmother died, he and his brother lived for a short stay with their father, who was working in Kansas City, one of a few places where work was available at the time. Catharo and his older brother eventually grew up in Bartlesville with their step grandfather and grandmother, Mannie and Ollie Gaylord.
After graduating from Douglas High School in 1941, Catharo and a childhood friend Stanley Brunner entered the Army to serve their country and to further their education. Catharo served his basic training at Fort Ord, California. He eventually was promoted to buck sergeant and began his overseas tour in Casablanca, North Africa. Catharo served in the army for three years and eight months.
After his discharge in 1945, he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to join his friend, Stanley Brunner, who had moved to Milwaukee six months earlier. He enrolled in Milwaukee State Teacher’s College in 1946 and graduated in 1952, majoring in Art Education with a minor in Sociology.
In 1950, Catharo married a Milwaukee native, Katherine Lipscomb and has four sons from that marriage. His first job was with A.C. Spark plug, which was located on East Ivanhoe and North Farwell Avenue at the time. Catharo held several positions throughout Milwaukee during his early years in the city. In 1961, during one of Catharo’s early endeavors, he moved his family to Green Bay, Wisconsin, in pursuit of a career opportunity. Catharo realized however that life in Green Bay was different and he and his wife and family eventually moved back to Milwaukee. Catharo remarried another Milwaukee native, Anne Roets, in 1970 and they had a son and daughter. All of Catharo’s children have grown up to live productive lives.
Catharo launched his own business in June of 1969. He got his big break when he realized the story of “Stone Soup.” Catharo had opportunity to produce plastic injection molded parts for the Millprint Company. He just needed to obtain the necessary funding and capital equipment to produce the parts. He obtained a 14-ton injection-molding machine from the Phillips Petroleum Company for one dollar. He was able to launch his business by creating something out of nothing.
At that point, Catharo was able to go from a one man beginning, to providing jobs for nineteen employees. His major customer list included some of the Fortune 500 companies and he was able to produce plastic injection molded parts for all of them. His sales were in the millions of dollars. Eventually, Catharo’s production requirements exceeded his capacity to produce and he needed to expand the business and upgrade his capital equipment. Unfortunately, Catharo and his associates were not able to obtain the necessary funding to upgrade the business. Ultimately, Catharo’s lost his orders to competitors and he was forced to close up shop.
Catharo’s story is one of determination and perseverance. It is an example of how a person can succeed in spite of the tremendous obstacles and challenges that he experienced during his childhood days in the south, as well as his early years in Milwaukee. His story has nobility to it that shines through all of the difficulties.
Catharo currently resides in the east side of Milwaukee and is going strong at the age of seventy-nine. He is currently working and marketing his book. His goal is to share his story so that others may take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them while they are growing up.
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