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Littelfuse, Inc.
Industry Electronics, Automotive, Electrical and Silicon
Founded 1927
Founder Edward V. Sundt
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois, USA
Key people
CEO Gordon Hunter
Products Fuses, Gas discharge tubes, Varistors, Thyristors, ESD suppressors, semiconductors, protection relays, sensors
Revenue Increase$667.9 million USD (2012)
Increase $75.3 million USD (2012)
Number of employees
7000 (12/2013)

Littelfuse, Inc is a multinational electronic manufacturing company based in Chicago, Illinois.[1][2] The company primarily produces circuit protection products but also manufactures a variety of electronic switches and automotive sensors.[2][3] Gordon Hunter serves as Littelfuse CEO.[4]

Littelfuse is the developer of AutoFuse, the first blade-type automotive fuse.[5]


Early history[edit]

Edward V. Sundt founded Littelfuse in 1927 in Chicago Illinois as Littelfuse Laboratories.[5] Prior to founding Littelfuse, Sundt had worked for General Electric and Stewart-Warner, where he found diagnostic equipment frequently experienced electrical failure.[5] Sundt developed Littelfuse’s first product, a small protective fuse, to regulate current in diagnostic equipment and prevent electrical failure.[5] Littelfuse was incorporated and renamed Littelfuse, Inc. in 1938.[5]

Littelfuse became a public company in 1962.[5][6] The company retained founder Edward V. Sundt as the chairman of its board.[6] In 1963, Littelfuse moved its headquarters from Chicago to Des Plaines, Illinois.[5] Sundt retired in 1965 and was succeeded by Thomas Blake.[5] Tracor purchased the company in 1968.[4][5] Blake was made president of Littelfuse, which operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Tracor.[7]


The company expanded its manufacturing base in the 1970s with new factories opening in Watseka, Illinois and Piedras Negras, Mexico.[5] In 1974, the company also introduced Littelites, electronic indicator lights used in industrial and office machinery, household appliances and computers.[5]

In 1976, Littelfuse developed Autofuse, which was the first blade-type fuse used in automobiles.[5] The Autofuse brand was counterfeited heavily and in 1983 the company obtained an exclusionary order from the United States International Trade Commission, which barred the importation of counterfeit blade-type fuses.[8]

In 1987, Westmark Systems purchased Tracor and its Littelfuse subsidiary in leveraged buyout.[9][10] Tracor filed for bankruptcy in 1991 and spunoff Littelfuse.[9][11]

Modern history[edit]

Littelfuse reincorporated in November 1991 with Howard Witt as its president and CEO.[12] Witt had worked for Littelfuse since 1979 and had been president and CEO of Littelfuse since February 1990, when the company was still owned by Tracor.[12] In 1991, Littelfuse offered its second IPO in company history.[4] The company’s profits rose throughout the 1990s and the company expanded its operations in Europe and Asia.[5][9] Littelfuse also expanded into South America with a distribution and engineering center in São Paulo, Brazil.[5]

Gordon Hunter replaced Witt as president and CEO of Littelfuse at the end of 2004.[4] In 2008, Littelfuse restructured its manufacturing operations, closing 16 small manufacturing plants and opening 6 new, larger plants.[13] The company moved its headquarters from Des Plaines, Illinois to Chicago, Illinois the same year.[13]

The company was recognized as Product of the Year by Specifying Engineer in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Arrow Electronics recognized Littelfuse with an award for Supplier Excellence in 2011. The company received TTI Supplier's Excellence Award in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Littelfuse received the Chicago Innovation Award in 2012. In 2013, the company received Processing Magazine’s Breakthrough Product of the Year. Littelfuse was recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Illinois in 2012, 2013 and 2014.[14][15][16][17]


Littelfuse designs and manufactures circuit protection products for the electronics, automotive and electrical industries.[2][3] The company operates between three business unit segments: Electronics, Electrical, and Automotive.[3] Products include: fuses and protectors, suppressors, gas discharge tubes, electronic switches, solenoids, battery management devices, and protective relays.[3]

With the acquisition of Hamlin, Inc. in 2013, Littelfuse expanded its product offering to include sensors for the automotive, industrial and consumer industries.[1][2]


Littelfuse has acquired multiple companies since 2003, including:

  • 2004 - Heinrich Industrie, a German manufacturer of circuit protection products, including the Wickmann brand.[4][20][21]
  • 2006 - Taiwan-based silicon manufacturer Concord Semiconductor, Inc. and Catalina Performance Accessories, which manufactures and distributes blade-type automotive fuses.[22][23]
  • 2008 - Shock Block Corporation and Startco Engineering Ltd., companies that develop and manufacture ground fault protection technology.[24]
  • 2010 - Cole Hersee, a maker of power management products, heavy duty electromechanical and switches for commercial vehicles.[25]
  • 2011 - Selco A/S, a Danish company, which produces electrical equipment for use in maritime and industrial environments.[26]
  • 2012 - Accel AB, a Swedish company that manufactures advanced automotive switches and senors, and Terra Power Systems, which manufactures electrical components for heavy-duty vehicles and trucks.[2][27]
  • 2013 - Hamlin Inc., an automotive sensors manufacturer.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c Debbie Cai (April 15, 2013). "Littelfuse to Buy Hamlin for $145 Million". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Littelfuse buys sensor-maker Hamlin for $145M in cash". Chicago Tribune. April 15, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Form 10-K Littelfuse". SEC. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Robert Manor (November 6, 2004). "Littelfuse's succession direction no surprise". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Littelfuse, Inc.". International Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "SEC IPO". SEC. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ "31 May 1968 Page 14". The Daily Herald. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  8. ^ In the matter of certain miniature plug-in blade fuses. United States International Trade Commission. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c David Young (May 6, 1995). "Charged Littelfuse Seeks Acquisitions". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Company News; Invensys Sells Semiconductor Unit To Littelfuse". New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Tracor Files for Protection From Creditors". LA Times. February 19, 1991. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Form 10-K Littelfuse, Inc.". SEC. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "How Gordon Hunter successfully led Littelfuse Inc. through a series of pivotal changes". Smart Business. November 1, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  14. ^ "2010 Product of the Year Winners". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "Motor protection relays". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "Arc flash relay". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "Ground fault, phase-voltage indicator". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Film Capacitors Market Outlook". Passive Component Magazine. July–August 2003. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Form 10-K Littelfuse". SEC. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Littelfuse To Increase Ownership Of Heinrich Industrie AG To 96.8 percent". Electrical Marketing. November 19, 2004. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Form 10-K Littelfuse, Inc.". SEC. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  22. ^ H. Lee Murphy (May 5, 2006). "Littelfuse's focus on Asia to gain momentum". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Littelfuse Buys Catalina Performance Accessories in Mountainburg". Arkansas Business. June 26, 2006. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Form 10-K Littelfuse, Inc.". SEC. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Littelfuse buys Cole Hersee for $50M". Crain's Chicago Business. December 22, 2010. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  26. ^ H. Lee Murphy (July 16, 2012). "Why Littelfuse finds dividends by going offshore". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Bellingham manufacturer acquired by global company". The Bellingham Herald. November 13, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 

External links[edit]