Technical Porcelain (TEPCO) - A Chinaware Company
John Pagliero, came from Italy and had worked in a pottery plant in his native country. He started working for the Pacific Sanitary Company, producing ceramic plumbing supplies in Richmond, and soon became superintendent for the company. He then opened up his own plant on Kains Avenue in Albany just beyond the city boundary line of El Cerrito and hired a few workers to start with. Finally, in around 1918 he quit working for the Sanitary Company to give his full attention to his own business.
In 1930 he moved into a new location in the city of El Cerrito at the southwest corner of Kearney Street and Manila Avenue, now where the Department of Motor Vehicles is located, and kept expanding his plant. His first disaster came to his hollow tile building on June 5, 1937 when a fire started from the open front gas heater in the drying room. Help to control the fire came from Richmond, Albany, and a Livermore fire truck that stopped there as it happened to be passing through the city.
Value of the building was $25,000.00
John Pagliero, who lived across from the pottery company on the north side of Manila Street, started to rebuild the pottery company with the help of his family. They manufactured dishes for restaurants and hotels on the west coast and also got government contracts to furnish dishes for the government. For a time he had shifts running around the clock to keep up his supply. At one time the hired help was estimated to be close to two hundred people working at the plant during the war on government contracts. The only relaxation John ever had was when he spent some of the summer weekends at his two ranches near Redwood Valley in Mendocino County.
The next fire he had was at 9:07 p.m. the night of May 22, 1946 and the fire destroyed almost all of the plant. They worked rebuilding some of the plant, but business was never the same and one of John's children, Arthur, was the last one to carry on the pottery business after his father passed away. He finally sold the Pagliero home to the city of El Cerrito and it housed the City Parks and Recreation Offices for many years.
The pottery business was considered, at that time, to be the biggest industry in El Cerrito and had a railroad siding running next to the building to service its needs. John Pagliero was a very well liked individual and he was always donating sets of dishes to various clubs and organizations in the city and to some of the poorer people who could not afford to purchase the pottery. John was an artist at his trade and put out some very fine chinaware.
Copyright Mervin Belfils, October 1975
PO Box 304, El Cerrito, CA 94530