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Future Of Frankoma Pottery Plant

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From KOTV 01/03/2005

A Sapulpa landmark since before World War II, Frankoma Pottery is closed. Friday was its last day.

As News on 6 reporter Rick Wells explains, employees are hoping the closing is not permanent.

People still drive up hoping to find a special piece to add to their collection of Frankoma Pottery, but the plant, the gift shop, all of it is closed. Plant manager Terry Steeples: "Our boss called us two days before Christmas and said close the whole plant down." That put a couple of dozen folks out of work, including his oldest son.

Terry Steeples is the plant manager, as was his father before him. "This is the only job my dad ever had. He worked here for 47 years, worked right up 'til the day he died; he was plant manager for 30 years. I've been in and out of this plant since I was a little kid.” Working at Frankoma Pottery is a family affair and they're proud of what they turn out. "Everything is totally hand made; it's done the same way it was in 1938." That’s how long Frankoma has been making pottery in Sapulpa; even the clay they make it from is local.

There are thousands of collectors and as the word gets out about the closing, the phone keeps on ringing. "Can they call and get this or that, no; we're not allowed to sell anything right now." So the plant sits quietly, the molds are empty, no glazing and no trimming. Everything's pretty much as it was on Christmas Eve when production stopped.

They were able to keep the gift shop open for another week, now that's closed too. Everyone hopes it's temporary and a new owner will open the plant up again and the sentiment on the sign will mean what it says, "Come see us again real soon."

The goal of the owner, who lives in Maryland, is to have the plant sold before the first of March. If a new owner does not materialize by then, no one is sure what the next step will be.

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