RACO has a long history dating back to 1921 or even 1912, depending
on which branch of the family tree is being traced. Digging deep down into the
company archives, we have found a wealth of information about the early years
of RACO. RACO, as we know it today, was formed during the heart of the Depression
from three small firms.
Roach-Appleton Manufacturing Co. - South Bend, Indiana
In 1921, Walter Roach, Sales Manager, and Ernest Appleton,
General Superintendent of Chicago Fuse Co., left to start their own company,
Roach-Appleton Manufacturing Co. Ernest had observed the success of his brother,
Arthur, who began making switch boxes following the purchase of some used punch
presses. Arthur began the very successful Appleton Electric Co. (now EGS). Walter
Roach and Ernest Appleton used the first letters from their last names plus
the abbreviation for the company to form the brand name RACO. They also created
the first version of the company logo with its waving flag. Products included
octagon, square and switch boxes.
They operated in leased quarters in Chicago then moved to South
Bend, Indiana in 1930. A realtor donated the land, the Chamber of Commerce donated
$10,000 for moving expenses, and a bank offered a low interest loan on the cost
of the 65,000 square foot building. By 1933, the effects of the Depression took
its toll on the company, and it was sold to All-Steel-Equipment Company of Aurora,
Illinois. For the next three decades, All-Steel ran RACO from its Aurora Headquarters.
All-Steel-Equip Company - Aurora, Illinois
All -Steel also was in the electrical manufacturing business,
and seized the opportunity to expand with the RACO line. All-Steel has its modest
beginnings in 1912, when three men pooled $1,000 apiece to start the company.
All three worked at Lyon Metal Products Inc., in Aurora. Their departure from
Lyon was hastened when the President learned ahead of schedule of their plans
to launch a competing business.
With only a punch press and a few other pieces of equipment,
the men turned out easy-to-make cutout boxes. Initially, production was a custom
make basis. Switch boxes and basic fittings were added to the line in the 20's,
although most were manufactured by Mansfield Electric Hardware Co. for All-Steel.
In 1922, All-Steel hired a young man to work in the Sales Department.
For 33 years, he was on the road selling his company's products in practically
every county in the United States. This same young man established the company's
first network of Sales Representatives
The Mansfield Electric Hardware Co. - Mansfield, Ohio
In 1929, All-Steel broadened its base in the electrical industry by acquiring
their chief supplier, The Mansfield Electric Hardware Co. The Mansfield line
retained a separate identity for five more years, since one company was selling
to Sears, and the other Wards. In 1934, all three companies went to market under
the RACO name.
1921 - Walter Roach & Ernest Appleton founded company
1930 - Company moves from Chicago, IL to South Bend,
1933 - All-Steel Equipment Co. - Aurora, IL purchases
1960 - Conduit fittings Division of U.S. Industries was
1963 - The Mansfield Electric Hardware Co. purchased
1965 - Acquired Breigel-Method Tool Company
1966 - CIT Financial Corporation (holding company) purchases
1969 - Introduction of plastic boxes
1972 - Company name officially changes to RACO
Roach Appleton Manufacturing COmpany
1980 - RCA purchases RACO from CIT
1981 - RACO acquired by Hubbell
- Today part of the Hubbell Electrical Products platform