Saturday, November 23, 2013

We used to make things in this country. #135: The Easy Washing Machine Company, Toronto, Ontario

An old fan in my barn.  I can't really figure out what the company's trademark above the "Easy" name above is supposed to represent.  Really poor logo design.

In the late 1800's, a Vermont farmer named Cyrus A. Dodge invented a hand-operated clothes washer marketed as the "funnel on a stick" or "cone on a stick."  In 1877, he partnered with Walter Zuill to found the Dodge and Zuill company in Syracuse, New York to manufacture this device. 

These devices were a huge improvement over washboards.

When electricity began to become more widely available in the early years of the 20th Century, various manufacturers turned their efforts to making electric clothes washers.  In 1907, such washers were offered by the Automatic Electric Washer Company and the Hurley Machine Corporation.  Maytag followed in 1911 with its electric "Hired Girl" wringer washer.  In 1907, Dodge & Zuill came out with their own product, and in 1915 their machine achieved the highest award in the model kitchen exhibit at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.  In 1917, the company was reorganized as the Syracuse Washer Corporation, and then as the Syracuse Washing Machine Corporation two years later.  By the mid-1920's the company was doing very well, and was reported to have the highest production of any home laundry equipment manufacturer in the world. In 1926, it brought out a wringerless model of washing machine.  In 1932, it became the Easy Washing Machine Corporation.  The company reached a peak in 1948, when 474,831 washing machines were sold.  

Mr. Fix-It's Complete Book on How to Make Your Own Electrical Repairs.
By Six Leading Authorities.  NY:  Greystone Press, 1953.
The Union Chemical and Material Company acquired the firm in 1955, and two years later it was sold to the Murray Corporation of America.  At that time, the company had 5 plants and employeed around 1400 people.  Murray eventually sold the company to the Hupp Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio, which closed it down in 1963.

The Canadian branch of the Easy Washing Machine Company was purchased by General Steel Wares (GSW) in 1958.  GSW dates back to 1927, when 5 companies merged: McClary Manufacturing Company, London, Ontario; Sheet Metal Products Company of Canada Limited, Toronto; Thomas Davidson Manufacturing Company Limited, Montreal; E. T. Wright Limited, Hamilton, Ontario; and A. Aubry et fils Limitée, Montreal.  GSW became a significant Canadian manufacturer of housewares and appliances, especially after buying the Happy Thought Foundry of Brantford, Ontario in 1920.)  Beatty Brothers gained controlling interest in GSW in 1962, through a reverse takeover.  GSW went on to absorb the Moffat Company, a large appliance manufacturer, in 1971, and to partner with the Canadian General Electric Company to form a joint venture called the Canadian Appliance Manufacturing Company (CAMCO) in 1976.  In 2002, they bought the American Water Heater Company.  CAMCO is gone now, fully absorbed into Canadian General Electric (CGE)  (As a cynical aside, production of electric lamps at CGE's Oakville, Ontario plant was transferred to Winchester, Virginia in the 1990's, and production of incandescent lamps moved to Winchester in 2009.  The Oakville plant was closed in 2010, and General Electric now produces these products in Mexico and China.)

As for electric fans, they obviously were part of the product line at some point.  Interestingly, the Canadian company also acted as a distributor for Vornado fans.


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