Keysor-Century Corp. in Saugus, circa 1986. Aerial view looking roughly west. The main building at 25940 Springbrook Ave. is at top; the company's 26000 Springbrook address is in the foreground.
Keysor-Century Corp., aka Keysor-Century Records, was established in Saugus by James Bernard "Bud" Keysor (May 7, 1906 — May 25, 2000), who brought his recording and plastics companies up from Burbank in 1957.
Keysor set up shop along the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks at 25940 and 26000 Springbrook Ave. on land he purchased for $1,500 an acre from local developer and entrepreneur Bill Bonelli, whose Saugus Speedway sat around the bend in the tracks.
(A half-century earlier, when the area was known as Saugus Junction, the Keysor-Century property was the site of a temporary construction camp for the Los Angeles Aqueduct.)
For two decades Keysor's Century Records Corp. pressed vinyl primarily for the music education market. If a high school or college anywhere in the country — including the SCV — wanted a concert recorded and available for resale, the disc was pressed in Saugus.
Keysor's company did much more than press its own records under its own label. Bud Keysor was an innovator both in sound recording and in plastics. In Burbank he had developed his own method for polymerization. His biggest customer for his company's polyvinyl chloride resins was RCA Records.
Keysor-Century continued to press records for the niche vinyl market even after the demand for 33-rpm records among the general public had fallen off. By that time, the company had diversified into making plastics not only for CDs but also for credit cards, shower curtains and hoses.
It was truly a family company. Keysor was an active participant in the community, helping form the Newhall Rotary Club and serving as its first president. He passed on his philanthropic nature to his five children, several of whom took leadership roles within the firm and served on local nonprofit boards. As the patriarch aged, his brother-in-law Howard Hill took the helm of the company.
But times were changing. The growth of the SCV's population coincided with the tightening of environmental controls at the regional, state and federal levels. Standard production practices in a rural community of the 1950s and '60s no longer worked in a bedroom community of the 1980s and '90s. Just as the Thatcher Glass manufacturing plant down the street ultimately shut down under regulatory pressure, Keysor-Century formally called it quits with a bankruptcy filing Dec. 10, 2003.
Since the last shipment of resin left the factory in that year, the main building at 25940 Springbrook has stood vacant. The property has been under discussion as a possible location for a materials recovery facility (a waste recycling plant), which trash hauler Burrtec — operating out of the 26000 Springbrook address — is under contract with the city of Santa Clarita to build. But so far, as of 2013, it's just talk.
1. According to Los Angeles County Assessor records, the original one-story, 28,074-square-foot building at 26000 Springbrook was built in 1957.
Additional construction at that address included another 1,568-sq-ft building in 1965 and a 2,257-sq-ft building in 1974. Construction at the
25940 address includes: 4,040 sq ft., 1959; 5,050 sq ft., 1962; 10,150 sq ft., 1972; 13,784 sq ft,. 1975; and 1,440 sq ft., 1981.
About the photographer: Photojournalist Gary Thornhill chronicled the history of the Santa Clarita Valley as it unfolded in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. From car races in Saugus to fatal car wrecks in Valencia; from topless beauty contests in Canyon Country to fires and floods in the various canyons; from city formation in 1987 to the Northridge earthquake in 1994 — Thornhill's photographs were published in The Los Angeles Times, The Newhall Signal, The Santa Clarita Valley Citizen newspaper, California Highway Patrolman magazine and elsewhere. He penned the occasional breaking news story for Signal and Citizen editors Scott and Ruth Newhall under the pseudonym of Victor Valencia, and he was the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station's very first volunteer — and only the second in the entire LASD. Thornhill retained the rights to the images he created; in 2012, he donated his SCV photographs to two nonprofit organizations — SCVTV and the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society — so that his work might continue to educate and inform the public.