A man with vision, Henry L. Broan developed and manufactured a kitchen fan called the Motordor® Fan that provided quiet and efficient kitchen ventilation. This single product helped carry his dream far beyond anything Henry Broan could have envisioned.
Four years later, in 1936, J. Ralph Corbett developed a melodious door chime replacing the obnoxious door buzzer of the time. His development launched what became known as NuTone, Inc.
Henry Broan converted his original company, Midwest Manufacturing Company, to a corporation and officially became Broan Manufacturing Company, Inc. and was based at 1669 North Water Street in Milwaukee.
Jack Broan, son of Henry Broan, visits the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Chicago to learn everything he could about rage hood competition. Since then, Broan-NuTone has been an exhibitor at the annual International Builder’s Show (IBS).
Broan outgrew its Water Street facility and moved its headquarters to Hartford, Wisconsin, about 40 miles northwest of Milwaukee. The facility is still home to the Broan-NuTone corporate headquarters and its large, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.
Two weeks prior to the move, Henry Broan died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 56. His wife, Edna, became president and held that position until 1967, one of only a handful of women to head a U.S. manufacturing company at that time. The company had 49 employees and Broan sales reached $1 million for the first time.
Broan developed a converter that processed odors and smoke through a charcoal filter. It could be attached to existing range hoods or used when ducted hoods cost more than the buyer wanted to pay. This converter, together with Broan’s group of range hoods, heaters, fans and lights combined with systematic advertising and promotion programs, put Broan on the map.
Jack Broan, son of Henry and Edna Broan, is named President and began to investigate and implement strategic planning. In addition he set the groundwork for moving computerization beyond the office and into manufacturing.
At the Chicago housewares show, the company introduced the brand’s own do-it-yourselfer, a character named Nautilus Ned. Ned was created by the cartoonist Virgil Partch, better known as VIP. The message was, if Ned can do it, anyone can.
Gordon M. Cooper becomes President and Jack Broan became CEO. Gordon Cooper brought an aggressive yet positive attitude, plus great strengths in engineering, management, manufacturing and strategic planning.
Broan becomes part of Nortek. Jack Broan contracts to be available as a consultant to the company for 5 year. “After 49 years, “ Jack said, “the Broan family retired from business. We went from selling 12 heaters in ’32 to $1,000,000 in ’56 when we moved to Hartford, to over $50,000,000 in sales and over 500 employees in ’81. It was a great ride and a lot of fun.”
Donald Schlegel becomes President, shifting focus to finding ways to take advantage of the escalating move toward consolidation within the industry. He began an acquisition program that soon became fundamental to the company’s growth strategy.
On July 27, 1987, President Ronald Reagan visits the Hartford headquarters and said “Nobody works as hard as the American worker. And forgive my pride, but when given half a chance, American business and labor can outcompete any country or people in the world.”
Jerome G. Santowski becomes President with a vision to build Broan into an international group of integrated and synergized affiliates to form the world’s largest residential ventilation products organization.
Broan celebrates its 60th anniversary, and dedicates a new hood automation line in its manufacturing systems as well as introducing a Just-In-Time approach which re-conceived virtually every activity in the company. The practice shortened the work cycle and allow the company to produce precisely to customer order.
BEST and Venmar becomes part of the Nortek group of companies. Venmar was North America’s leading Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) company. BEST had already become become one of the premier range hood lines in the professional category in North American, a small but growing niche.
NuTone is acquired by Nortek and despite the complexity and scope of the integration process, it was very successful. NuTone’s culture was refocused on customer expectations.
Broan changed its name to Broan-NuTone LLC and invests in additional manufacturing technology. Broan-NuTone’s automation puts it in a position to compete with offshore manufacturers. The automation, make-to-order and flow manufacturing principles allow the company to run on very lean inventories. Just-In-Time strategies provide service with which offshore companies simply cannot compete.
David L. Pringle named president and continues the firm’s growth in global sales while continually improving product offerings for North American customers and continued enhanced quality assurance measures.
Jeff Mueller becomes Group President, Air Quality & Home Solutions and is leading evolutionary change to Global Functional leadership, in addition to regional business leadership, creating complexity in our business relationships and also strengthening the company’s ability to leverage associate skills in new and greater ways.