Wisconsin's aluminum cookware industry boomed in the 20th century. Production grew exponentially from under 5 percent of the nation aluminum cookware in 1910 to over 50 percent in 1920. Local financier Bernhard C. Zieglar (1884-1946), anticipating this trend, encouraged S.F. Mayer, Martin Weber, his cousins A.J. and C. Edwin Pick, and brothers Carl and Robert Wentorf to each invest $1,000. On September 27, 1911, the West Bend Aluminum Company was incorporated. The Wentorf brothers, formerly employed by Mirro Aluminum in nearby Two Rivers, became West Bend employees, bringing their aluminum manufacturing expertise with them.
The first products to bear the West Bend name were saucepans, a frying pan, a pie pan, and a water dipper. In 1914 Ziegler became general manager, and the company moved from an old knitting mill and button factory into a new 14,000-square-foot plant. Ninety percent of the company sales went to Sears and other mail-order houses.
The company introduced a "water-less cooker" (crock-pot) in 1921, one of its most successful products ever, and the "Flavo-perl" drip coffeemaker in 1922, which didn?t require filter paper. Ziegler was made president in 1921 and remained so until his death. A.C. Kieckhafer (1946-1959) and J.R. Brown (1959-1971) followed.
Because aluminum was restricted to war production during World War II, the company started supplying war materials for the military. Production continued 24 hours a day until 1945, when it transitioned back to a civilian market. In 1961 the company dropped "Aluminum" from its name to reflect its use of stainless steel and other materials. The West Bend Company was acquired by Rexall Drug and Chemical Company in 1968, at which point the company employed approximately 2,000 people, about one-sixth of the community population. Though other ownership changes took place, the company continued to operate independently. The company, whose slogan was "Where Craftsmen Still Care," dissolved in 2002.