Origin of California Belting Company
California Belting and Leather Company was founded in 1919 by Roy Tolsma. The first shop was located at 165 North Main Street Los Angeles, CA (now the site of the new City Hall East). Roy had worked for his father at Seattle Belting.
Mr. John Tolsma, Roy's father, was a belt man for the Pillsbury Flour Mills in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1912 he read about the Crisis in the lumber industry and decided to investigate. After returning from his trip to Seattle, Mr. Tolsma bought some used machinery from Sikes Belting and some from the Chicago Belting Company and had them shipped to Ballard, Washington.
He was in business a few weeks after and was very successful from the first day on. World War I was in progress and the demand for lumber, ships, and many other products benefited Mr. Tolsma's business greatly. After the war ended, things returned to normal. He died in 1930, as a very wealthy man.
Before 1919, Roy had married and started a family, so he wanted to start his own business. As his father did before, he traveled south to study his options and decided Los Angeles was the best place for a belting shop. His business did extremely well from the very beginning. He serviced the large lumber mills (now gone), oil refineries, ship yards, ice plants which refrigerated railroad cars carrying fruits and vegetables to the mid-west and the east. He also serviced the irrigation pumps throughout the citrus groves. Each well was powered by a 200 to 250 horse power engine, the Ingersoll Rand, driving the water pump with a belt averaging about sixty-five feet in length, eighteen to twenty-four inches wide. The largest order California Belting and Leather Company ever received was for one hundred twenty leather belts, each were sixty feet long, fourteen inches wide, two ply thick and made endless. These were for the Associated Oil Company (now Texaco) when the Inglewood oil fields were developed in 1923. Roy Tolsma died in 1965.
Jerry Roth started working for the company in 1935. When Roy died, he had no heirs interested in the business. His widow sold the company to Jerry as he had been a loyal employee and friend to Mr. Tolsma.
Jerry retired in 1982 after almost forty-eight years and John Olivas assumed ownerhip. When John took over the company, business was down. Although leather belting had been one of the greatest industries in the turn of the century, the late 70s marked a downfall to it. However, more than twenty years of experience in the belting industry helped John to bring California Belting and Leather Company back to its feet.
Two decades after, John saw that manufacturing leather belting, washers, gaskets, and allied leather products was a dying market and decided to change the name to California Belting Company. Not only the name was changed, also the efforts and knowledge were being focused in different products to better serve the industries in need of conveyer and power drive belts. Some of the industries being served are the food industry (bakery, tortilla, meat, poultry...), bindery industry, packaging industry, among others... And most important, as a custom belting shop, California Belting Co gets involved with the new systems and technologies improving the belting field.