The Hoover Company

From Academic Kids

The Hoover Company is an American vacuum and floor cleaner manufacturer based in North Canton, Ohio. It is now a division of Maytag Corporation. For decades it dominated the business of home floor cleaning, to the point where "hoover", both as a noun and verb, is a slang term in Great Britain for vacuums and vacuuming.

History

The first Hoover vacuum was invented by a Canton, Ohio department store janitor named James Murray Spangler, who devised a crude vacuum cleaner using a soap box, electric motor, broom handle, and pillow case in 1907. Spangler suffered from asthma attacks, and he suspected the carpet sweeper he was using at work was the cause of his ailment.

Spangler then gave one of the vacuums to a friend, Susan Hoover, who used it at her home. Impressed with the machine, she told her husband about it. Her husband was W.H. "Boss" Hoover, a leather-goods manufacturer in North Canton, then called New Berlin. Hoover bought the patent from Spangler in 1908 and retained Spangler as a partner in the new vacuum cleaner business.

Hoover then placed an ad in the Saturday 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. Over time, his company's sales expanded globally, and, in British English, the word "Hoover" became a verb meaning "to vacuum a floor".

Hoover's business flourished, and, a year after Hoover acquired the patent from Spangler, he established a research and development department for his new business. In 1926, Hoover invented the "beater bar", a rotating brush and metal bar mechanism at the bottom of the vacuum to loosen dirt trapped in carpets. Ten years later, in 1936, Hoover got another patent -- this time for a new self-propelling mechanism for vacuum cleaners.

Over the years, Hoover diversified into other product lines, including kitchen appliances, hair dryers, and industrial equipment. However, those lines have all since been discontinued and the company only makes vacuum and floor cleaning products today.

Recent history

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 Chicago Pacific Corporation and, in 1989, Chicago Pacific was purchased by Maytag. Hoover is now a fully owned subsidiary of Maytag.

In 2004, Maytag announced that it would consolidate its corporate office and back office operations in Newton, Iowa and close most all of Hoover's overlapping functions. This effectively meant that most all white-collar jobs at Hoover's North Canton location would be eliminated. The company had previously closed another manufacturing facility in Jackson Township, Ohio (q.v. Stark County, Ohio.)

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., and Maytag says its union facilities in North Canton cost too much to run.

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