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Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturer History & Information

This page contains information about the major players in the vacuum cleaner industry. It includes details about company history and founder(s). In addition, current company ownership is discussed if it differs from the original.

There are also links to manufacturer websites. Clicking one of these links will automatically open a new browser window if your web browser is JavaScript enabled (most recent browsers are).

Electrolux

Aerus Electrolux began in 1924 under the name Electrolux when Gustaf Sahlin introduced the Electrolux tank vacuum cleaner to the United States. Almost overnight, its unique design became the standard of excellence. Since then, Aerus Electrolux products have been proudly owned by over 50 million households and businesses. For more history of Electrolux, see American Electrolux by Charlie Lester.

The Electrolux Group (a separate entity from Aerus, and the original Swedish parent of Electrolux vacuums) continues to make vacuum cleaners such as Harmony, Oxygen and Aptitude that are only available in red. Electrolux Group also manufactures vacuums under the Eureka brand name.

All 'Electrolux' vacuum cleaners in colors other than red are produced by Aerus. For more information about the company, visit the Aerus website.

Eureka

The Eureka Company, founded in 1909 in Detroit, MI by Fred Wardell, is a leading producer of vacuum cleaners in the world. The company has sales and service operations covering the United States, Canada, Mexico and 44 other countries.

Why the name Eureka? The word Eureka means, 'I found it.' Greek physicist Archimedes (c.287-212 B.C.), allegedly exclaimed 'Eureka!' when he discovered the theory of water displacement. According to company legend, founder Fred Wardell, a businessman from Detroit, felt that 'Eureka' also symbolized his founding of a firm that would make such an innovative product.

The Eureka Company has been owned since 1974 by the Electrolux Group, originators of the Electrolux vacuum cleaner. For more Eureka history, visit the Eureka website.

Filter Queen

The Filter Queen Suction Cleaner was invented by Mr. E.H. Yonkers. In 1928, the first 'Health-Mor Upright' rolled off an Illinois assembly line. The Health-Mor, which became the Filter Queen in the 1930s, introduced the first high-suction air cleaner design. Mr. Yonkers patented his machine on September 8, 1937. The new technology could reach deep down into carpets to pull out dirt, dust and allergenns embedded in capets. By the 1940s, consumers would buy the Filter Queen home cleaner exclusively through home Distributors.

Filter Queen brand vacuum cleaners are today produced by HMI Industries Inc. HMI is a globally oriented, direct selling company engaged in the manufacture and sale of high filtration portable surface cleaners, central vacuum cleaning systems and portable room air cleaners.

For more information about Filter Queen, visit the Healh-Mor website.

Hoover

The story begins in 1907. Murray Spangler, an inventor who worked nights as a janitor, was cleaning rugs in a Canton, Ohio, department store. But all the dust raised from his broom aggravated his asthma, and he called upon his inventor's creativity to find a solution to the problem. Spangler gathered a tin soap box, a fan, a sateen pillow case and a broom handle, then assembled an odd-looking, cumbersome contraption that managed to pull the dust away from the air he breathed. He quickly realized that this 'suction sweeper', as he called it, had enormous sales potential, and he began seeking financial backing.

Spangler's cousin, Susan Hoover, agreed to try the machine in her home. Before long, she was singing its praises to her husband, W.H. 'Boss' Hoover, owner of a leather goods manufacturing shop. Hoover bought the patent from Spangler in 1908, retained him as a partner, and soon had six employees assembling six units a day in a corner of the leather goods shop.

Hoover placed a small ad in the Saturday Evening Post offering 10 days' free use of a Hoover suction sweeper to anyone who wrote and requested it. But instead of sending the cleaner directly to the potential customer, he chose a reputable store in each city from which requests arrived and sent the product to that store. He sent a letter requesting that the store manager deliver the machine and keep the commission from any resulting sale, then offered the store the opportunity to become a dealer for the Company. This laid the groundwork for a national dealer network which continues today as the main channel of distribution for Hoover products.

Today, the Hoover Company is a division of a Chinese company. Learn more company history at the Hoover website.

Kirby

Best known for the commitment to the home care company that bears his name, Jim Kirby was an inventor for most of his adult life. His goal in life was to reduce or eliminate drudgery wherever it existed. Over 200 patents and a host of products used today are a tribute to his success.

Kirby started his own business making gadgets for a fee. After watching his mother's cleaning efforts result in dust settling back on to the rugs, he developed his concept of a labor-reducing home care appliance. The first product he developed in 1906 employed water for dirt separation. After noticing the inconvenience of emptying dirty water, he began pursuing better ideas. In 1907, Kirby developed a vacuum that pushed dirty air into a cloth bag that filtered out the dirt.

During World War I, Jim Kirby was assigned to serve as an expediter of the Very Signal Pistol production at the Scott and Fetzer Company in Cleveland, Ohio. Kirby showed George Scott and Carl Fetzer his idea for the non-electric home care system. With a handshake, they agreed to produce the 'Vacuette'.

In 1925, the Vacuette Electric, with its removable floor nozzle and handle, became the forerunner of today's multi-attachment models and was the birth of what was to become the world famous convertibility feature of the Kirby.

In 1935, Scott and Fetzer introduced the Kirby Model C, the first product Kirby felt was worthy to carry his name. He continued to work on new ideas for the system that bore his name into the 1960s.

For more about the Kirby Company's history, visit the Kirby website.

Oreck

David Oreck founded the Oreck Corporation in the United States in 1963. The company's home office is in New Orleans, Louisiana, and its principal manufacturing facilities are in Long Beach, Mississippi.

Oreck Corporation began as a company manufacturing upright vacuum cleaners for the hotel industry in the U.S. The concept was to design a lightweight yet powerful and durable vacuum that hotel housekeepers would prefer to the very heavy models available to them. The idea proved so successful that now over 50,000 hotels throughout the world use Oreck vacuums. After a short time, hotel personnel asked to buy the machines for their own use, which gave the Oreck Corporation the idea to sell its unique products to the general public.

For more information about Oreck, visit the company's website.




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