Compo Company Ltd.
Compo Company Ltd. First Canadian independent record pressing plant; also the largest of its day. Established in 1918 as a pressing plant at Lachine, near Montreal, by Herbert S. Berliner (then vice-president and general manager of the Berliner Gram-O-Phone Co), it initially handled US labels such as Phonola (record label) and Starr-Gennett (record label). Berliner resigned from the Berliner Gram-O-Phone Co in April 1921, taking many of that company's senior staff to Compo; the two companies became bitter rivals as a result. Compo's first house label, Sun, based in Toronto, was introduced in May 1921. It was supplanted in September by Apex, a name which continued in use for over 50 years, passing through the control of several companies. Other labels were adopted (at one time Compo had over 20), among them Domino (record label), Microphone (record label), Sterling (record label), and Lucky Strike (record label). In 1924 Apex phonographs were introduced. As Herbert Berliner had a great personal interest in radio and its ramifications, Compo was the first Canadian company to issue microphone recordings (in 1924) and records taken from radio broadcasts (in 1925). It was one of only two recording companies in Canada to survive the depression of the 1930s, diversifying its activities to include the manufacture of cylinder records (for dictation machines) and radio transcriptions.
In 1935 Compo became the Canadian licensee for pressing and distributing the US Decca line. In 1951 Decca purchased Compo, retaining Berliner as its president until his death in 1966. Decca in turn was purchased in 1964 by MCA, which, besides maintaining the Lachine pressing plant until the early 1970s, established a plant in Cornwall, Ont, which operated until 1976. The Compo and Apex labels were in use until 1971.
Compo always recorded Canadian performers, mostly from the pop field, though in the 1920s such concert performers as Rex Battle, J.-B. Dubois, Paul Dufault, Ruthven H. McDonald, and Rodolphe Plamondon were on its roster. In addition to the performers on Compo's Starr line (the name taken over from Starr-Gennett in 1930), Compo also recorded, for Apex, the Adanac Quartet(te), Willie Eckstein, Vera Guilaroff, Al and Bob Harvey, Léo Le Sieur, the accordionist Joseph Latour, Don Messer and His Islanders, the pianist Billy Munro, the fiddler Sid Plamondor and his Western Pals, Wellie Ringuette, and the Andy Tipaldi Orchestra. Compo distributed in Canada many records made by expatriate Canadians for Decca. A number of Compo's production ledgers and masters have been deposited at the National Library of Canada.