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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

ROYAL APPLIANCE MANUFACTURING CO. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The ROYAL APPLIANCE MANUFACTURING CO. had its beginnings in 1905 in the P. A. Geier Co. on E. 105th St. In 1912 the punch press manufacturer decided to launch a new line of vacuum cleaners which it marketed under the "Royal" trademark.

In 1949, Schott Industries of Cincinnati bought the P. A. Geier Co. and, just three years later, decided to liquidate the local company. Dismayed by the decision, Stanley E. Erbor, an employee of P. A. Geier, assembled a group of 60 fellow workers, who pooled their savings and bought the company. The company was reorganized in 1953 as the Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co., with Erbor as its president. Totaling 60 employees, the company moved its operations to E. 61st St. In 1968, Royal again relocated, this time, to new quarters on Alpha Dr. in HIGHLAND HEIGHTS Erbor led the company until his death in 1979; after which Royal was sold to John A. Balch and A. Malachi Mixon, III, for $4 million in 1981. At the time of the sale, annual revenues at Royal were just under $5 million. In 1983, Royal unveiled its Dirt Devil hand-held Vacuum, and the new product soon proved to be a resounding success. By 2004, the company had sold over 23 million units of its Dirt Devil hand-held vacuums and the Dirt Devil brand became its most recognized brand. In 1991 Balch decided to take the firm public, and a total of 5.7 million shares of stock were offered for sale. With the infusion of new capital, the company expanded its operations base, opening new facilities in Eastlake, Wickliffe, Euclid, Mentor, and Macedonia. The company also set up sales offices in both the U.K. and Germany. In 1995, Royal Appliance employed a work force of 650. That same year, Michael Merriman came in as chief executive and president to infuse new life into the company which found itself under increasing competition from rival manufacturers in the home vacuum cleaner market. In 2000, Royal moved from its Highland Heights location to GLENWILLOWwhere the company assumed the lease (and the tax incentives) of a former Mr. Coffee plant. By 2001, Royal reported an income of $9.3 million on total revenues of $428.4 million. In 2002, Royal was acquired by Hong Kong-based Techtronic Industries Corp. for $105 million. Techtronic, which purchased Ryobi Power Tools, Homelite Lawn and Garden Equipment, and Vax Floor-care Appliance, had no plans to move the company. In 2004, Merriman left the company amid structural changes and was not replaced. Royal's remaining executives reported directly to Techtronic's management.

Headquartered in Glenwillow, Royal continues to be active in civic affairs, sponsoring its annual Dirt Devil Dog Walk, which raises funds for the ANIMAL PROTECTIVE LEAGUE.

Last Modified: 04 Jan 2005 02:53:41 PM

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