Thursday, August 20, 2009

The History of InSinkErator in Racine Wisconsin

Not only is located in Racine, WI, but it is the home and headquarters to the legendary InSinkErator. It has been an influential part of our City and history. Being in the same neighborhood also gives our team the ability to stop by for plant and product tours. We thought we would stop by the Racine History Museum to get some background on the company and view their first garbage disposal inventions. It was amazing to see. InSinkErator, is a division of Emerson (NYSE: EMR) which is the world's largest manufacturer of food waste disposers and instant hot water dispensers for home and commercial use.

Emerson, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to provide innovative solutions to customers through its network power, process management, industrial automation, climate technologies, and appliance and tools businesses. Sales in fiscal 2008 were $24.8 billion.

Born in Racine, Built in America

In 1927, the world's first food waste disposer was created a few blocks from the current World Headquarters. A Racine architect by the name John W. Hammes came up with the idea, perfected and patented it, and founded the company that from day one has been the world's largest manufacturer of disposers.

Much of Insinkerator's growth is due to their committed partnership with plumbing contractors. Since the 1940s, InSinkErator® has been the first choice of plumbers, builders and kitchen dealers with good reason: it's the reliable brand they can install and literally forget. In addition, our products are available at leading appliance retailers and home centers. As the best-selling food waste disposer brand in the world, millions of InSinkErator® disposers are manufactured annually. They're also the leading brand of instant hot water dispensers and point-of-use water heaters. Today, InSinkErator® has operations in over 80 countries worldwide

1930s: Changing HistoryPlain.

No-nonsense. Utilitarian. And those are some of the kinder words that can be used to describe the kitchens of the 1930s. Cabinets, appliances and sinks were typically free-standing — on four legs. Most everything was stark white enamel, with the exception of the checkerboard linoleum floor. Even though the leading cookbook of the era proclaimed cooking a joy, it didn't always feel that way with so many inconvenient kitchen tasks. InSinkErator founder John W. Hammes, a Racine, Wisconsin architect, was first to solve one major inconvenience: disposing of food scraps. In 1927, he built the first food waste disposer in his basement workshop. After eleven years of testing and development, InSinkErator Manufacturing Co. was established, making and selling 52 disposers in 1938. A slow start, to be sure — but an auspicious one.

1940's: Changing Communities

The linoleum floors took on brighter patterns, with grays and reds adding touches of color, as the kitchens of the 1940s started their march into the modern era. Home freezers, combination refrigerator/freezers and electric mixers stepped into the spotlight. Amazing new products including frozen orange juice, instant mashed potatoes and aerosol whipping cream were introduced — and we learned about them through recipes from the magazine that made our homes and gardens better. InSinkErator also became an integral part of the new American kitchen. While they were occupied making defense parts during the war years, after the war they turned their attention to convincing cities and towns to allow — and often mandate — the use of disposers. Insinkerator also made a key decision that set the stage for their future success: selling disposers exclusively through plumbing contractors.

1950s: Changing Marketplace

Postwar kitchens of the 1950s reflected the new American optimism: clean lines, cheerful colors, and built-ins everywhere. Appliances took on a softer look with pink, aqua, yellow and other pastel shades. Suburban homes featured galley kitchens with such space saving innovations as the double oven — used most often to cook frozen TV dinners. We drank the powdered orange drink preferred by astronauts, and we prepared meals by following the color pictures in Betty's famous red cookbook.While our lifestyles were dramatically changing, InSinkErator was keeping pace. They expanded our Racine facilities to produce commercial products for restaurants and hospitals. They met the challenge of growing competition with national advertising campaigns featuring such celebrities as Burns & Allen and Phyllis Diller. They launched a direct sales force, plus a network of independent service representatives. And Insinkerator introduced their gold standard Model 77 disposer, the first in the industry to include a five-year parts warranty.

1960s: Changing Resources

American kitchens renewed themselves in the 1960s; taking full advantage of the decade's advancements in materials and technology. In came new self cleaning ovens, side by side refrigerators, countertop blenders and more in shades of avocado, coppertone and gold. New plastic laminates covered our countertops, and new vinyl floorcoverings — or indoor-outdoor carpeting — added softness underfoot. We shaked and baked our chickens, and we watched Julia's famous cooking show on TV.In like manner, InSinkErator made the most of its expanded capabilities. They developed the "Quick Lock" mounting assembly to speed disposer replacement. Insinkerator built a new Racine plant — then (at 243,000 square feet) and now (at nearly 400,000 square feet) the world's largest facility devoted exclusively to disposer production. They entered international markets for the first time. Moreover, they gained a solid base for continued growth when Emerson Electric Co. acquired them in 1968.

1970s: Changing Lifestyles

With the Bicentennial the defining event of the decade, kitchens outwardly adopted a homespun look. Country motifs were popular. Almond, wheat, and good-old-fashioned white were the leading appliance shades. Natural grains and health foods were displayed on butcher-block countertops, right next to vegetarian and low-calorie cookbooks. But in reality, cooking was all about speed thanks to the introduction of the countertop microwave oven — plus dozens of new quick-cooking products that helped us with our hamburger and more.InSinkErator was on the leading edge of this trend with the introduction of the instant hot water dispenser — an indispensable appliance for time-conscious cooks. As for disposers, Insinkerator formally became number one in disposer market share, with the InSinkErator name on one out of every two units sold in the U.S. To keep up with their explosive growth, Insinkerator expanded their Racine plant. And we began marketing their new Badger line of disposers to the booming residential construction market.

1980s: Changing Climate

Things really started to heat up in home kitchens, as enthusiasts were taking more and more cues from commercial chefs. Pantries reappeared to hold the larger stock of ingredients cooks wanted. Stainless steel made its debut in appliances. New non-porous materials brought us smooth-top ranges and solid surface countertops — on which you were sure to find a souped-up food processor. And we blackened absolutely everything, from fish to spaghetti, following recipes from Chef Paul's New Orleans kitchen. Activity in Racine was also on the front burner, as both their sales growth and market share continued to increase. Insinkerator introduced their super-premium Classic model, the forerunner to today's Model 777ss. They enhanced their commitment to wholesale distributors, and we increased our retail presence through new relationships with home improvement megastores. By InSinkErator's 50th anniversary in 1988, an estimated 75 percent of all contractors included disposers in new residential homes.

1990's Changing Technology

Beeps. Buzzers. Bytes not just of food, but of silicon. Throughout the nineties, kitchens made their entrance into the computer age. Digital readouts did away with dials and gauges. Touch controls replaced knobs and levers. User-programmable cycles were built into ranges, refrigerators, even toasters and blenders. Home cooks replaced their index card files with database programs, and cyberspace became the hot place to find and exchange recipes — on CD ROM cookbooks, on e-mail lists, on Martha's web site. InSinkErator was becoming wired as well. They expanded their electronic data interchange system for full e-commerce capabilities, so distributors could use the emerging Internet to place orders and track purchases. They developed a Skills Center to expand employees' knowledge of computer systems and software. By the end of the decade, as more communities throughout the U.S. made food waste disposers mandatory, InSinkErator was the homeowners' brand of choice at all leading home improvement retailers.

2000 And Beyond:

Changing Needs. Call it feng shui or call it fusion. For the new century, kitchens reflect a balance of sophistication and simplicity. Ultra high-tech appliances, from fuzzy logic rice cookers to voice-command microwave ovens, are placed on countertops of natural marble and granite. Bold neon accents contrast with color schemes straight from nature. While we dazzle our guests with recipes from Wolfgang, Mario and Charlie, we stock our shelves with lowfat snacks and cholesterol-lowering spreads.In a word, it's all about comfort. People want more relaxed environments — and that means kitchen solutions that save time and boost efficiency while providing the quality that ensures peace of mind. At InSinkErator, we're uniquely able to satisfy this desire. As the best-selling food waste disposer brand in the world — and the leading brand of instant hot water dispensers and point-of-use water heaters — our products have earned the trust of contractors, dealers and consumers in over 80 countries. And as Insinkerator moves forward in the 21st century, they will be building on their heritage to achieve new milestones in kitchen convenience.

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