La Choy is a maker of American-Chinese food, probably best known for their soy sauce and chow mein noodles. The company was started in Detroit in 1920, when Wally Smith, a local grocery store owner consulted with Ilhan New, a Korean colleague, on how best to grow mung bean sprouts. Their first crop was grown in a bathtub; La Choy incorporated in 1922 and began selling canned goods.
With popularity of its products rising, La Choy built a new office and factory complex at 8100 Schoolcraft street in 1937. The company would not stay there long, however.
The outbreak of the Second World War changed the industrial landscape of Detroit, as factories and plants that made food and clothing were rapidly converted over to war production. In 1942, the La Choy factory was "commandeered" by the Department of Defense to make munitions for the war effort and turned over to Micromatic Hone, a Detroit company that made machine tools for precision parts manufacturing. La Choy moved its production to Archbold, OH, where it would remain until 2006.
Micromatic Hone Corp ran the plant on behalf of the US Goverment from 1942 until the end of the war in 1945, when it purchased the plant and equipment outright for $550,000, and continued making machining tools, later expanding to abrasives.
As early as 1945 Micromatic was planning to expand it's Schoolcraft plant, but work wasn't completed until 1952. The addition, a steel and reinforced concrete mill nearly doubled the size of the plant, increasing the shipping area and allowing for the installation of an overhead crane.
Micromatic was bought out and became a subsidiary of Ex-Cell-O in 1963. When the company ran into financial troubles in the late 60's, several of Ex-Cell-O's Detroit plants were consolidated or closed. The Micromatic factory closed in 1971 and moved to Holland, MI.
At some point in the 1970's the plant was bought and used by the U.S. Fastener Corp. It's unclear how long USF operated out of the Shoemaker factory, but the company went bankrupt in 1986.
The last industrial company to operate out of 8100 Shoemaker was Gilreath Manufacturing from 1986 to 1997, which did custom injection molding for plastic auto parts. Gilreath is still in business today, but is based out of Howell, MI.
From 1997 to as recently as 2009 the property was being used as a junk yard for Gilchrist Towing Company. Hundreds of cars in the rear lot behind the building were removed between 2009-2011, except for a tow truck and a few chopped up auto bodies.
The upper floors of the warehouse are filled with pallets of plastic auto components left over from Gilreath Manufacturing, like radiator caps and pieces of trim. Scrappers began picking away at the building, removing pipe, wires, and the metal stairs. Either by accident or on purpose, several fires broke out in the warehouse in December of 2012.
As of March of 2013, the factory is being demolished.