The West Bend Aluminum Company

The West Bend Aluminum Company (HM1GJI)

Location: West Bend, WI 53090 Washington County
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Country: United States of America
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N 43° 25.906', W 88° 11.173'

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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.
Series This marker is part of the Wisconsin: Wisconsin Historical Society series
Year Placed2013
Placed ByWisconsins Historical Society with funding provided in memory of J.R. Brown
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 12th, 2014 at 1:47am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 403992 N 4809446
Decimal Degrees43.43176667, -88.18621667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 43° 25.906', W 88° 11.173'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds43° 25' 54.36" N, 88° 11' 10.38" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)262
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 797-899 WI-144, West Bend WI 53090, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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