The Hoover Company - Detail from Wikipedia

 
Archive/Online/Electrical/Vacuum cleaners/Documents/Hoover Logo.png
Type Division
Industry Floor Care
Genre Home Care
Founded 1908
Founder(s) W. H. "Boss" Hoover
Headquarters Glenwillow, Ohio (worldwide except Europe)
Merthyr Tydfil, Wales(Europe)
Area served Worldwide
Products Vacuum Cleaners, Deep Cleaners, Hard Floor Cleaners, Stick Vacs
Parent Techtronic Industries(except Europe)
Candy(Europe)
Website http://www.hoover.com/, http://www.hoover.co.uk

The Hoover Company started out as an American floor care manufacturer based in North Canton, Ohio. It also established a major base in the United Kingdom and for most of the early-and-mid-20th century, it dominated the electric vacuum cleaner industry, to the point where the "Hoover" brand name become synonyimous with vacuum cleaners and vacuuming in the United Kingdom andIreland. The Hoover Company in theUnited States was part of theWhirlpool Corporation but sold in 2006 toTechtronic Industries for $107 million. Hoover UK/Europe split from Hoover U.S. in 1993 and was acquired byCandy, a company based in Brugherio, Italy. It currently uses the same Hoover logo Techtronic uses outside Europe with the slogan "Generation Future".

In addition to floorcare products Hoover was also an iconic domestic appliance brand in Europe particularly well known for its washing machines and tumble dryers in the UK and Ireland and, also had significant sales in many parts of Europe. Today, the Hoover Europe Brand, as part of the portfolio of brands owned by Candy Group, remains a major player in the European white goods and floor care sectors in a number of countries.

History

Boyhood home of Hoover vacuum cleaner founder William "Boss" Hoover, built 1853

The first upright Vacuum was invented in 1908 by aCanton, Ohio department store janitor and occasional inventor named James Murray Sprangler. Spangler suffered from asthma attacks, and he suspected the carpet sweeper he was using at work was the cause of his ailment. He created a basic suction-sweeper, first by adapting his existing carpet-sweeper with an electric fan motor, then creating his own prototype from a soap box, electric motor, broom handle, and pillow case. After refining the design and being granted a patent, he set about producing the 'Electric Suction Sweeper' himself. He was aided by his son, who helped him assemble the machines, and his daughter, who made the dust bags. Production was slow; he was completing just 23 machines a week.

Spangler then gave one of these Suction Sweepers to his cousin, Susan Hoover, who used it at her home. Impressed with the machine, she told her husband and son about it. William Henry "Boss" Hoover and son, Herbert W. Hoover, Sr., were leather-goods manufacturers in North Canton, which at the time was called New Berlin.Hoover's leather goods business was threatened by the introduction of the motor car. Seeing in the Suction Sweeper a marketing opportunity, Hoover bought the patent from Spangler in 1908 and retained Spangler as company Superintendent, on royalties in the new business. Spangler continued to contribute to the company, patenting several further Suction Sweeper designs, before his death in 1915. His family continued to receive royalties from his original patent until 1925.

Development

Faced with a total lack of interest by the public in his expensive and unfamiliar new gadget, Hoover placed an ad in theSaturday Evening Post offering customers 10 days free use of his vacuum cleaner to anyone who requested it. Using a network of local retailers to facilitate the offer, Hoover thus developed a national network of retailers for the vacuums. By the end of 1908, the company had sold 372 Model O's. By 1912, sales had been made to Norway, France, Russia, Belgium, Holland and Scotland.

In 1919, Gerald Page-Wood - an Art Director of Erwin, Wassey & Company, Hoover's advertising agency - came up with a succinct slogan which summed up The Hoover's cleaning action - 'It Beats...as it Sweeps...as it Cleans'. At this time, it referred to the action of the brushes from the brush roll, which tapped at the carpet and helped vibrate out the trodden-in grit. This offered an advantage over competitors machines, which used suction alone to remove dirt, and therefore were not as efficient as The Hoover. Seven years later, the famous slogan was to take on even more significance.

Hoover's business began to flourish, and, a year after Hoover acquired the patent from Spangler, he established a research and development department for his new business. By 1926, Hoover had perfected the 'beater bar' - a metal bar attached to the rotating brush-roll, situated in the floor nozzle cavity of the upright vacuum cleaner. Introduced on Models 543 and 700, the beater bar alternated with the sweeping brushes to vibrate dirt and grit trapped in carpets. It provided a more distinct 'tap' than the bristle tufts used on the former machines, and led to a 101% increase in efficiency. This cleaning action was marketed by Hoover as "Positive Agitation". 'It Beats...as it Sweeps...as it Cleans' rang more true now than ever.

Herbert W. Hoover, Sr. took over as president of the company in 1922 and as Chairman of the Board of the Hoover Company in 1932.In 1932, Hoover introduced a new feature - an optional headlamp, called the Hoover Hedlite, on Models 425, 750 and 900. By March 1932, it had become standard equipment on Models 750 and 900, and a $5 extra-cost option on Model 425. The Hoover Hedlite illuminated the floor ahead of the cleaner, useful for dimly-lit rooms and corridors, and under furniture. This feature brought in several new slogans, including 'It shows you the dirt you never knew you had!', and 'It lights where it's going...it's clean where it's gone!'.

Hoover filed another significant patent in 1936, this time for a new self-propelling mechanism for vacuum cleaners.

In 1954 Herbert W. Hoover Jr. took over the presidency of the company from his father

In the late 1950s, the sombre and restrained colors of the previous decades gave way to bright, striking modern color-schemes. This was part of their policy of the continual development and modernization of their output.

In 1957 Hoover introduced the Convertible Model 65 (the De Luxe 652 in the UK). Designed again by Henry Dreyfuss, this cleaner introduced a feature Hoover termed 'Automatic Shift' - a system whereby the tool converter plugged into the rear of the cleaner. This wasn't a new idea - instant tool conversion for 'above-floor cleaning' had been introduced in 1935 with the Model 150 Cleaning Ensemble. However, new to Model 65 - and slightly later in Britain on the 652A - was the introduction of a switch which automatically shifted the motor to a higher speed as the converter was inserted. The Convertible - or the Senior, in Britain - remains Hoover's worldwide best-selling cleaner. Although the domestic line was finally discontinued in 1993, a version called the Guardsman is still available in the commercial sector.

1963 saw the introduction of the Dial-A-Matic in the US - sold in Australia as the Dynamatic, and in Britain, confusingly, as the Convertible. This was the first ever clean-air upright cleaner. The clean-air principle is similar to the flow of air through a cylinder/canister cleaner. Rather than the dirt passing directly through the suction fan and being blown into the bag, it passes through the bag first, leaving only clean air to pass through the fan. This principle was soon adopted by many manufacturers, and continues to be used today. Despite the Dial-A-Matic's improvement on vacuum cleaner design, it was heavy and expensive, and could not manage to outsell the popular Convertible line.

Hoover further refined the Dial-a-matic's design in 1969, when they launched the 'Powerdrive' self-propulsion system. This idea took a lot of the effort out of pushing the cleaner, because, by using a system of gears, belts and cables, the cleaner used its own power to drive itself forward and backwards, as directed by the user though the 'Triple-Action' handgrip. It was so efficient, the user could drive the heavy cleaner forward with a single finger. This extra technology made the Dial-A-Matic even heavier than the original, and at around $150, it was very expensive. The 'Powerdrive' system was carried over into the Concept range, which replaced the Dial-A-Matic line in 1978.

In 1986 the Hoover family sold the company.It was acquired by Maytag Corporation in 1989.

On Friday, 6 March 2009, Hoover confirmed that it was to cease production of washing machines and other laundry products at its Merthyr Tydfil factory, South Wales, UK from Saturday, 14 March 2009; giving the reason, the company stated that it could no longer manufacture competitively priced laundry products at the plant.

Hoover had initially announced its closure intentions on Tuesday, 18 November 2008, beginning a period of staff consultation. The company was established in the town over 60 years ago, its factory at Pentrebach, Merthyr Tydfil, opening on 12 October 1948.

Though 337 jobs will be lost because of this decision, Hoover UK anticipated retaining its Headquarters, logistics, storage and after sales service functions at the site, with some 113 workers retained.

Slogans

Advertisement for Hoover, 1937 by famed Australian photographer Max Dupain

Popular Hoover machines

The Junior: Introduced by Hoover Limited (UK) in the 1930s, the Hoover Junior is a smaller upright type vacuum for apartments or small houses which was easy to carry around. The Junior was very popular in the UK; Hoover sold millions of them, and it became the biggest selling vacuum there. Various models were produced, with the final machine being manufactured in 1987. Hoover Limited made Juniors for export to the US from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s. The exported Juniors were converted to American electrical standards by The Hoover Company in North Canton, Ohio. Finding a Hoover Junior in the USA is quite rare. The Junior was never referred to as such in the USA; it was tagged in official Hoover literature as the Lightweight Upright.

The Dirtsearcher: Introduced again by Hoover Limited (UK) in 1969, was a development of the Junior with a model 638 style headlamp fitted in place of the tool adaptor cover at the front. This model the 1354 went on to be the most successful UK Hoover manufactured model selling in both European and Commonwealth markets, however it was never sold in the US, although there were 110V versions of the UK-market Juniors sold in Canada (such as the 1354A). They were sold alongside the Junior and Senior/Ranger models becoming the now rare model U1016 and U1040.

The Portable: The Hoover Portable was launched by Hoover in 1962. It is a "Suitcase" type canister that had no wheels; you would tug it around with you as you clean. When finished you would store the hose, attachments, and power cord inside the machine. In 1969, Hoover added wheels to the Portable. The Portable was manufactured until 1978: there are still some Portables in use today.

The Swingette and the PortaPower: The Hoover Swingette, a lightweight canister that could be carried by hand or slung over the shoulder, was introduced in 1970. It could be used to easily clean stairs, upholstery, car interiors, etc. It used the same motor found in some other Hoover canisters as well as the Hoover Dial-a-Matic upright.

The PortaPower is basically the same as a Swingette but with different colors. It replaced the Swingette in 1975. Wheels were added to this model around 1980. Commercial-grade units of this model were sold starting in the mid 1980s; these are still in production to this day and still retain the original Swingette design. The consumer Portapowers were replaced in 1989 by the Sprint and Tempo models; the Tempo 450 model featured the motorized Powermatic floor nozzle. The Sprint/Tempo line did spawn a short-lived return of the Portapower name into the consumer market - the Portapower II - sold in the mid 1990s.

The Slimline: The Hoover Slimline was launched in 1964 and was sold until 1978. It was similar to the Portable but with a slimmer design and lighter weight. It was easier to carry around while cleaning.

The word "hoover"

In the UK and Australia the term "hoover" (properly spelled in all lower case like any ordinary word) has long been colloquially synonymous with "vacuum cleaner" and the verb "to vacuum" (e.g., "you were hoovering the carpet"), owing to the Hoover Company's dominance there in the first half of the 20th century. Although the company is no longer the top seller of vacuum cleaners in the UK, the term "hoover" has remained as a genericised trademark.

Over the years, Hoover diversified into other product lines, including kitchen appliances, hair dryers, speakers, and industrial equipment.

The Hoover Historical Center

In the 1970s, Hoover introduced The Hoover Historical Center. It is a Victorian-style farmhouse built in the 1840s. The Hoover family lived there for many years. As you go through the tour at the Hoover Historical Center, you start from the very beginning and you learn facts about the Hoover family and when the vacuum cleaner first began with displays of old non-electric vacuum cleaners like pump and friction cleaners. As you proceed, you learn about the beginning of the Hoover company and view displays of very early Hoover cleaners from the Hoover Model O to Hoovers of the 1910s. As you continue, you will see displays of Hoover cleaners, products, advertisements, and memorabilia from the 1920s to the 2000s. The center also includes a gift shop where you can buy Hoover postcards, picture frames, and other things at the end of the tour.

Ownership transitions

The Hoover plant in North Canton, Ohio.

The company was owned by the Hoover family until the 1940s, when it then became a publicly traded company. The company's stock was first traded on August 6, 1943. In 1985, the company was purchased by the Chicago Pacific Corporation, and in 1989, Chicago Pacific was purchased by Maytag.

In 1993, the Hoover Trading Company and Hoover UK merged to become the Hoover European Appliances Group. In 1995, Candy Group acquired the Hoover European Appliances Group in its entirety with the exclusive rights on the brand for the whole of Europe (including all territories of the former-Soviet Union), North Africa and selected countries in the Middle East.

In 2004, Maytag announced that it would consolidate its corporate office and back office operations inNewton, Iowa and close almost all of Hoover's overlapping functions. This effectively meant that most white-collar jobs at Hoover's North Canton location would be eliminated. The company had previously closed another manufacturing facility in Jackson Township, Stark County, Ohio, and the facility was sold to a church. Like many manufacturing companies in the U.S., Hoover is facing pressures as consumers demand lower-priced goods. Hoover has operations in Mexico, where operating costs are lower than in the U.S.

After Maytag was acquired by Whirlpool in 2006, that firm reached an agreement to sell Hoover to Hong Kong, China-based firmTechtronic industries. TTI has announced its intention to close the original plant in North Canton in September 2007.

Hoover in Australia

Since 1954, the Hoover factory at Meadowbank has been manufacturing washing machines and other products. A subsidiary of the US company, Hoover, it merged with Chicago Pacific in 1985 and Maytag in 1989.

In 1994, Hoover Australia was to be listed as a public company with a six-monthly operating profit of $8,850,000. This sparked a fight between Email Limited and Southcorp, two of Australia's largest white goods manufacturers for a commercial sale. Both were eager to strengthen their market share and further monopolise the whitegoods industry. By December 1994, Southcorp announced a successful bid to buy Hoover Australia. In March 1996, Southcorp began a big rationalisation, sacking workers in maintenance, stores, administration and supervision at the Hoover factory.

At the same time, Southcorp was announcing a big increase in their share price.In April, 1999, the sale of Southcorp Appliances, including Hoover, Dishlex and Chef, was official with Email now obtaining a conservative 60 per cent share of the Australian white goods market.

Prior to the Southcorp buy out, Hoover Australia operated as a US subsidiary with its own administration, sales and marketing, large maintenance and engineering departments, a service division and a much larger production workforce. At this time, in the early '90s, Hoover was making healthy profits, as a result of investment in new technology and machinery through the late '80s, followed by a big drive towards quality improvement combined with a very flexible workforce.

After the Southcorp takeover, a culture of fear was introduced based on a widespread campaign to strip all the indirect labour from the workforce, and a myth that the factory was inefficient and unproductive. Every month it was reported the factory was losing $1 million or more. Morale at the factory went into a downward spiral. This was followed by decisions to stop production of barrel and upright vacuum cleaners, next was the end of the front loader washing machine. Vacuum cleaners and front loaders were replaced with imported products, the plastic moulding production was contracted out, the factory was being stripped of production, volume and jobs. A cost reduction campaign followed with good quality components being replaced by inferior cheap components and a complete breakdown of any real preventative maintenance program, which gave way to a large number of machine and equipment breakdowns. The reality, rather than the myth, was the Hoover Meadowbank site was being run into the ground by corporate decisions.

By the late 1990s Email had finally closed the Meadowbank factory and integrated its white goods manufacturing into the Simpson plant in South Australia. The vacuum cleaner side of the business was sold to Godfreys. Several years later, Email itself was sold and broken up. The white goods division of Email was then sold to Electrolux. Shortly after taking ownership, Electrolux ceased leasing the Hoover brandname and the manufacturing and supply of Hoover white goods ceased in Australia.

Free flights promotion

In 1992, the British division of Hoover announced the Hoover free flights promotion, the demand for which rose far beyond the company's expectations, resulting in major costs and publicUnited Kingdom to take Hoover to court over the Hoover free flights promotion. Upon the decision in Hoover v. Sandy Jack at Sheriff Court in Kirkcaldy, Fife a precedent was set. Hoover Holiday Pressure Group furthered court action against Hoover at St Helens in Merseyside.

Hoover Constellation - The Canister without Wheels

ThHoover Constellation is a vacuum cleaner notable because it has no wheels. Instead, the vacuum cleaner floats on its exhaust, operating as a hovercraft. Introduced in 1952, it is easily identified by the spherical shape of its canister.

In 1973 Hoover introduced the Celebrity. Lighter and shaped like a UFO, it floated almost too well, skidding across the carpets behind the user. Both designs are considered collectables today. In 2006, Hoover relaunched the Constellation in the U.S. In the UK, it is known as 'The Maytag Satellite'. Almost identical to the original, it has such modern refinements as a powerful 2000 W motor, HEPA filtration and an air-driven turbobrush. In April 2009 Hoover discontinued the Constellation.

Current products

The products sold under the Hoover brand vary greatly from one market to the next. For example in the United States the Hoover brand is used exclusively to sell floorcare products produced by TTI. Meanwhile in the UK and much of Europe Hoover branding appears on Candy Group products including white goods such as washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators as well as floorcare products. Current details of the product range available to consumers can be found by visiting the Hoover website for the market of interest.

Competition

Over the past decade, Hoover has lost its dominant position in the UK and in the US and now faces strong competition from many brands.

In the US, Hoover's competition includes: (among others) Royal, Dirt Devil, andVax (both of which are owned by Hoover's Hong Kong ownerTechtronic Industries) ;Kirby; Eureka Dyson; Electrolux; Areus; Panasonic; Bissel; Rainbow; Filter Queen; Euro-Pro/Shark; Sanitaire (a product of The Eureka Company; and Kenmore (the house brand of American store chain Sears, which is manufactured predominantly by Panasonic).

Dyson and Electrolux lead the list of UK competitors, followed by Dirt Devil, Vax, Morphy Richards, Miele, Bissell, Numatic (maker of the famous "Henry" cylinder cleaner), Zanussi, Russell Hobbs, LG, and a plethora of others.

<< Back

'We Believe in Making a Future for our Industrial Heritage'


Featured Pages



Online Gift Shop Share this page Mesuem Facebook Museum Facebook Museum Twitter Museum Flickr