Sunbeam Products

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sunbeam Products, Inc.
IndustryConsumer products
Founded1897; 126 years ago (1897)
as Sunbeam Products
1924; 99 years ago (1924)
as John Oster Manufacturing Company
Area served
Key people
Andrew C. Hill
(CEO & President)[1]
ProductsKitchen appliances
Home and health products
ParentNewell Brands

Sunbeam Products is an American brand that has produced electric home appliances since 1910. Its products have included the Mixmaster mixer, the Sunbeam CG waffle iron, Coffeemaster (1938–1964)[2] and the fully automatic T20 toaster.

The company has endured a long history of struggles, including, in 2001, when it filed for bankruptcy and was also found to have committed massive accounting fraud, for which it was subject to SEC investigation. In 2002, Sunbeam emerged from bankruptcy as American Household, Inc.(AHI). Sunbeam was owned by Jarden Consumer Solutions after Jarden's acquisition in 2004, which was itself later purchased by Newell Rubbermaid (now Newell Brands).


Early history[edit]

Sunbeam's flagship Mixmaster
(model A24, c. 1969–72)

In 1897 John K. Stewart and Thomas J. Clark incorporated their Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, which made horse trimming and sheep shearing machinery. In 1910 the company produced its first Sunbeam branded household appliance, the Princess Electric Iron (with an option to buy a fireproof metal storage box). The name "Sunbeam" came from a company wide contest to rebrand its growing home appliance business. Edwin J. Gallagher (1897–1983), a buyer and traffic manager for the company, won the contest and received a check for $1,000. The company did not officially change its corporate name to Sunbeam until 1946.[3]

In 1928, the company's head designer, Swedish immigrant Ivar Jepson alongside Bernard Alton Graham invented the Mixmaster mixer. Introduced in 1930, it was the first mechanical mixer with two detachable beaters whose blades interlocked.[4] Several attachments were available for the Mixmaster, including a juice extractor, drink mixer, meat grinder–food chopper,[5] and slicer–shredder.[6][7] Other accessories include: dough hooks, blender, meat mincer, fine and coarse graters and came with 2 bowl sizes. The bowls rotated, sitting atop a free-running turntable and being driven by the 'edge' beater via a plastic cupped washer on the tip of the beater using friction drive against the sharply sloping side of the bowls near the bottoms. The mixer simply unclips from the base stand so it could be used as a hand mixer too. The Mixmaster became the company's flagship product for the next forty years, but the brand also became known for the designs, mainly by Robert Davol Budlong, of electric toasters, coffee makers, and electric shavers, among other appliances.

The Mixmaster universe, a cosmological model of the early universe, was named after the Mixmaster product.[8]


Sunbeam acquired Rain King Sprinkler Company producing a popular lawn sprinkler line of the 1950s and 1960s. Meanwhile, Sunbeam continued to expand outside of Chicago. By the end of the 1970s, as the leading American manufacturer of small appliances, Sunbeam enjoyed about $1.3 billion in annual sales and employed nearly 30,000 people worldwide. The John Oster Manufacturing Company was acquired in 1960 by Sunbeam Corporation. In 1981, after Sunbeam was bought by Allegheny International Inc. of Pittsburgh, most of the Chicago-area factories were closed and the headquarters moved to downtown Pittsburgh. Under Allegheny International's ownership Sunbeam became the world's largest maker of small appliances through much of the 1980s. Allegheny International moved its headquarters into a 32-floor signature skyscraper in Pittsburgh.[9] During this time the companies Allegheny controlled included John Zink Company (manufactured air pollution control devices) and Hanson Scale (manufactured bathroom scales and other balance machines).[10]

Allegheny's four principal divisions, including Sunbeam, went into decline through the late-1980s. Since Sunbeam-Oster was one of the most important divisions, responsible for nearly half of all sales, the stockholders were very concerned about the leadership. In 1986, the stockholders accused the Chairman and CEO, Robert Buckley of mis-appropriating funds.[11][12] Buckley's successor, Oliver Travers, downsized considerably and by 1988, the company was essentially just Sunbeam and Oster. The decline continued aided by the stock market crash of October 1987 and Allegheny filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[13] In the fall of 1989 an investment group called Japonica Partners[14] purchased the remains of Allegheny for $250 million ($546.5 million today) in a hostile takeover.[15] The company was renamed Sunbeam-Oster Company, Inc. At this point the business was then divided into four divisions: Outdoor Products, Household Products, Specialty Products, and International Sales. The company headquarters were moved again from Pittsburgh to Providence, Rhode Island and then finally to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.[16] By late 1991, Sunbeam-Oster's sales had increased 7% enabling it to make the Fortune 500 list.

Fraud investigation and bankruptcy[edit]

In 1996, Albert J. Dunlap was recruited to be CEO and chairman of Sunbeam-Oster. Dunlap quickly announced that he would lay off half of Sunbeam-Oster’s work force among other measures.[17] In 1997, Sunbeam reported massive increases in sales for its various backyard and kitchen items. Dunlap purchased controlling interest in Coleman[18] and Signature Brands (acquiring Mr. Coffee and First Alert) during this time. Stock soared to $52 a share. However, industry insiders were suspicious. The sudden surge in demand for barbecues did not hold up under scrutiny. An internal investigation revealed that Sunbeam was in severe crisis, and that Dunlap had encouraged violations of accepted accounting rules. Dunlap was fired, and under CEO Jerry W. Levin,[19] the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2001.

Soon after Sunbeam filed for bankruptcy, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Dunlap and four other Sunbeam executives, alleging that they had engineered a massive accounting fraud. The SEC said $60 million of Sunbeam's supposed record $189 million earnings for 1997 were the result of fraudulent accounting. It also said that Dunlap had falsely created the impression of massive losses in 1996 to make it look as if Sunbeam made a dramatic turnaround the next year. Along with Dunlap and several other officers, the SEC sued Phillip Harlow at Sunbeam's accounting firm, Arthur Andersen. Dunlap was ultimately banned from serving again as an officer or director of a public company.

Post-SEC investigation[edit]

In 2002, Sunbeam emerged from bankruptcy as American Household, Inc. (AHI), a privately held company. Its former household products division became the subsidiary Sunbeam Products, Inc.

AHI was purchased in September 2004 by the Jarden Corporation, of which it was a subsidiary until 2016 when Jarden Corporation was purchased by Newell Rubbermaid to form Newell Brands.[20]


Jarden has continued to grow its brands, purchasing the Holmes Group in 2005,[21] K2 in 2007,[22] and Mapa Spontex in 2009.[23] More recently, Jarden purchased Aero International and Quickie Manufacturing. As of 2015, Sunbeam batteries were made in China and imported into the United States by Greenbrier International and into Canada by DTSC Imports for Dollar Tree stores.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sunbeam Products, Inc". Press release. Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on 2012-09-23. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  2. ^ "Vacuum Brewer Hey Day". CoffeeKid. 1951-08-12. Archived from the original on 2012-10-28. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  3. ^ O. C. Ferrell; John Fraedrich; Linda Ferrell (2009). Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases. Cengage Learning. p. 373. ISBN 978-1439042816.
  4. ^ David John Cole; Eve Browning; Fred E. H. Schroeder (2003). Encyclopedia of Modern Everyday Inventions. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 420. ISBN 978-0313313455.
  5. ^ How to use your Sunbeam Mixmaster, Instruction manual for Model 9B, publication MX 392
  6. ^ Recipes and Instructions, Mixmaster model A24, publication MX51534A, January 1969
  7. ^ Box for "Slicer and Shredder for use with Model A12 Sunbeam Mixmaster"
  8. ^ Barry R. Parker, Chaos in the Cosmos: The Stunning Complexity of the Universe, Springer, 2013, p. 257.
  9. ^ Zellner, Wendy (April 30, 1984). "AI: Shift here to save $100 million". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 11. Retrieved August 20, 2019 – via Google News Archive.
  10. ^ "History of Sunbeam-Oster Co., Inc. – FundingUniverse". Archived from the original on 2012-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  11. ^ Flanigan, James (August 12, 1986). "Allegheny Mess Shows Dark Side of Business". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  12. ^ "Allegheny International's Buckley Quits". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. August 11, 1986. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved Oct 4, 2011.
  13. ^ Thornton, Jerry (Feb 22, 1988). "'Business As Usual' For Sunbeam". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  14. ^ Rosenberg, Hilary (2000). The Vulture Investors, Revised and Updated. Wiley. pp. 165–230. ISBN 978-0-471-36189-3.
  15. ^ Light, Larry (May 27, 1991). "The Complex Art Of The Chapter 11 Deal". Businessweek. Archived from the original on 29 November 2004. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  16. ^ "Florida Move For Sunbeam". The New York Times. October 4, 1993. Archived from the original on 28 April 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  17. ^ Sandomir, Richard (February 5, 2019). "Albert J. Dunlap, Tough Executive Known as Chainsaw Al, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 February 2019.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Norris, Floyd (May 20, 2005). "At Sunbeam, Big Guys Won, Public Lost". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  19. ^ Norris, Floyd (July 16, 2001). "The Incomplete Resume: A Special Report; An Executive's Missing Years: Papering Over Past Problems". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 30 January 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Jarden Corp: Not A Household Name – Yet". Bloomberg Businessweek. November 29, 2004. Archived from the original on November 1, 2005.
  21. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross (June 29, 2005). "Deal Seen By Makers Of Household Goods". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  22. ^ de la Merced, Michael (April 25, 2007). "Sporting Goods Maker Is Said To Be Acquired". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  23. ^ DEALBOOK (Dec 17, 2009). "Jarden Makes $500 Million Bid For Mapa Spontex". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 10 May 2018. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  24. ^ Notice ©2015 on package of Sunbeam batteries.

External links[edit]