History associated with Frigidaire

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Frigidaire started life as the Guardian Refrigerator Company which was founded in 1916 by a group of investors and an engineer called Alfred Mellowes from Fort Wayne in Indiana. Alfred had spent the previous year working on building a refrigerator in his wash house and produced the first self contained unit. This refrigerator was more like today's as it had a compressor fixed solidly in the base of the machine, unlike all previous machines which had a separate cold box and a cooler unit that was then attached to it. The factory they set up hand made these refrigerators and this took up two weeks per machine and they were soon in serious financial trouble. It is estimated that in a two year period only 40 machines were built and the company was over $30,000 in debt.

General motor's stepped in and bought the company in 1918 and changed its name to Frigidaire and set about adapting their knowledge of production manufacturing to making refrigerators at a plant in Detroit. This resulted in being able to quickly manufacture a quality product at a reasonable price and by September that year they had refrigerators for sale in the stores.

In 1919 with all the patents for this design acquired the company became the Frigidaire Corporation. In 1921 production was moved to Dayton in Ohio sharing a factory with a subsidiary of General Electric that produced electrical generators. By 1926 the refrigerator business was doing so well that it was made a separate subsidiary of GE with its own president Elmer G Biechler and moved into a large purpose built plant in Moraine in Ohio. Manufacture of other cooling products was also launched along with beverages chillers, ice cream makers, cooled display cabinets and soda pop fountain machines being created as well as in 1929 ac units and freezers had been offered the very first time. Another milestone in the company history was the completion of the one millionth refrigerator in the same year.

The 1930s saw two new important technical advances and these were the development of a new refrigerant they called Freon and the introduction of a more efficient sealed compressor called the Meter Miser. Frigidaire was one of only a few companies that actually continued to grow and prosper during the depression branching into other household appliances such as washers, dryers, ovens and heaters. Just before the outbreak of World War II some 20,000 people were employed by the company which also had the largest refrigerator factory in the world.

The war halted everything as production was changed to the war effort by producing Browning machine guns and various aircraft parts. Frigidaire was one of nine companies in America that were allowed to start production again of their own products before the end of the war. This allowed the company to have refrigerators produced again by July 1945 and increased to 1 million each year by 1949. By this time the company had added car air conditioning, dishwashers and waste disposals to its already impressive array of products.

Growth and success continued until in the 70s when the competition and cost of production made GE part with Frigidaire selling it to White Consolidated Industries who kept the name and continue to produce the Frigidaire range of household appliances.


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