THE NAFRA COMPANY, INC.
THE Nafra Company, Inc., which Joseph Mercadante (with whom George F. Hurd, of Greene, Hurd & Stowell, New York, was associated) organized in 1914, was created to im-port Nafra asbestos brake lining and introduce it in this country. But an embargo which the Ital-ian Government laid a few months later on the exportation of asbestos fibre from Italy made it imperative to choose another line of business.
One of the pressing needs of Italian industry was a supply of box-shooks, for which the source of supply had been Trieste, Austria. The Nafra Company sent large shipments of these, relieving an exhausted market, and rapidly developed a large export business, chiefly with Italy, in coal, and afterwards in metals, chemicals, and other merchandise. Soon difficulties in obtaining ocean tonnage for its exports compelled the company, in 1915, to charter and operate vessels for its own use, and by 1916 the company had chartered and was operating as many as eighteen ocean-going steamers.
Conditions affecting the market in charters of vessels bound for the Mediterranean had so de-veloped at the beginning of 1917 that they found it impossible to obtain chartered bottoms, or even cargo space for which the company had previously contracted, in quantity sufficient to transport the merchandise which the company was under contract to deliver in Italian ports. It had made commitments it was compelled to meet and contracts it was bound to execute. Its only recourse, therefore, was to go into the market and buy its own tonnage. Therefore the company purchased the steamships "Eurana," "Santa Cecilia," and "Chin- cha," these three vessels having an aggregate of about twenty-nine hundred deadweight tons. These vessels, placed immediately in service to Italy, supplemented by such additional tonnage as the company was able to charter at exorbitant rates, enabled the company to meet all the contracts and engagements it had made with respect to overseas shipments, except some from which the company was able to secure voluntary cancellation from its customers upon payment by the company f differences aggregating several hundred thousand dollars.
The Nafra Line, a subsidiary corporation owned and controlled by the Nafra Company, has an enviable record for promptness and efficiency in handling, loading, and discharging ocean-going vessels. To the three vessels before mentioned the "Tidewater" and "Plymouth" were added, and these five vessels built up a large busi-ness. In October, 1919, the "Nafra Line" disposed of its vessels to a new organization, the Green State Steamship Corporation, of which Mr. Joseph Mercadante is also president. This com-pany, which has a capital of $10,000,000, has added ten more ships to its fleet and expect to increase it to twenty-two. Mr. Robert McGregor, formerly general manager of the Federal Ship-building Company, is vice-president and general manager of the Green State Steamship Company.
Another subsidiary company of the Nafra Company is the Nafra Stevedoring Company, doing stevedore work for Nafra steamers at Baltimore.
The Nafra Company plans to enter the ship-building and drydock field, and build cargo steamers similar in type to one they now own and operate, which has proven especially satisfactory in its cargo-carrying capacity.
Mr. Mercadante, president and active head of the Nafra Company, was born in Italy in 1884, but is an American citizen. His family has social and financial prominence in his native land.
Mr. J. V. Cronin, president of the Nafra Line, is well known in the shipping world.
Mr. E. P. Earle, of New York, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nafra Company, has by his strong financial support made possible its remarkable business expansion, developed from modest beginnings through 1915 and 1916.
The Nafra Company has a large interest in the Nafra Italiana, S.A., an Italian corporation of Milan, Italy, with branches in Genoa, Leghorn, Rome, and Naples, and agents in all important Italian cities, reputed to be the largest trading company in Italy. Its president, Mr. Ena Pressi, is a prominent member of the Cotton Spinners' Association, and some directors of the Credito Italiano and the Banca Italiana Disconto, the two leading financial institutions of Italy, are identified with the company.