Easco Boilers, One of the Country’s Oldest Black Business, Celebrates 90 Years

Easco Boilers, One of the Country’s Oldest Black Business, Celebrates 90 Years
Congressman Charles Rangel, Assembly member Michael Blake, and members of the Bronx Clergy Network listen to Leon Eastmond reflect on his career as a family business owner, a position now held by his grandson, Tyren Eastmond (at right)
Photo Courtesy of Kevin A. Richards

Easco Boiler Company 1175 Leggett Avenue, celebrated its 90th year this month, making it one of the oldest black-owned businesses in the country.

At a celebration on Tuesday, August 16, members of the community, including clergy and elected officials, commemorated the company’s, that moved from Harlem to the Bronx in 1974, historic anniversary.

Tyren Eastmond, now president of the company, recalls stories he heard from his great grandfather, Arlington Eastmond, who founded the company in 1926. The company was not incorporated until 1948.

Arlington, who was from Barbados, began the company at a time when living in the United States was not comfortable for most African-Americans.

However, Tyren said that did not affect his great grandfather.

He said Arlington had come to the country with little money and was not going to let that stop him.

“He came with the mindset he was going to do something,” said Tyren.

According to his great grandson, Arlington began making a name for himself by taking boilermaking jobs that no one would else wanted.

Tyren recalled a story about one job in which a man wanted Arlington to build a boiler on a hill.

Tyren said his great grandfather pleaded with the man that this was not a good idea. However, Arlington did it anyway.

In addition, said Tyren, his great grandfather also worked in other difficult environments.

Tyren said these conditions would “discourage most and somehow my great grandfather would go there and say, ‘Don’t worry I can do it.’”

Arlington Eastmond Jr, Tyren’s grandfather, also known as ‘Leon’, only recently handed over the reigns to his 32-year old grandson.

Leon said black and Latino communities and residents of the Bronx “deserve a fair chance to work, gain skills and reinvest in their community.”

He added elected officials need to create more opportunities for Bronx communities.

Tyren echoed his grandfather’s sentiments and said Easco has been “a staple in the black community and a model for the nation.”At Easco, there is an emphasis on investing in their workers.

Some of Easco’s employment practices include starting wages of $15 an hour, job traning for former convicts, and a scholarship fund for people who can’t support themselves while learning a trade.

Tyren said “making a better life for the people around us” has been a focal point for the company.

“How do we provide jobs, how do we help the community,” are some of the questions Tyren said members of the company ask themselves.

He said the company is like a family.

He recalls that as a kid he worked in the warehouse and in the offices.

Tyren said over the years while the staff watched him grow up he in turn watched the company change their lives.

He adds he’s not focused on the pressure of running one of the oldest black-owned companies in the United States.

Instead, he is focused on the “opportunity to empower people” and taking the “focus off yourself and putting it on everyone else.”

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

More from Around NYC