Square D marks 100 years in power, control fields

Square D celebrated its 100th birthday on Dec. 15, 2002. One of America's best-known brands of electrical distribution and control equipment, Square D accounts for the greatest share of $2.7 billion in annual sales by Schneider Electric's (Paris, France) North American Division, which provides nearly one-third of Schneider's global revenues and employs 17,000 people in the U.

01/01/2003


Palatine, IL -Square D celebrated its 100th birthday on Dec. 15, 2002. One of America's best-known brands of electrical distribution and control equipment, Square D accounts for the greatest share of $2.7 billion in annual sales by Schneider Electric's (Paris, France) North American Division, which provides nearly one-third of Schneider's global revenues and employs 17,000 people in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Before it was acquired by Schneider in 1991, Square D earned a unique distinction on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) of never reporting a financial loss in any calendar quarter during the 55 years of its NYSE listing, and also paying 220 consecutive quarterly dividends to shareholders.

One hundred years ago, on Dec. 15, 1902, Bryson D. Horton and James B. McCarthy formed the McBride Manufacturing Co. (Detroit, MI). They hired two women to assemble an initial order of 1,000 cartridge-type electrical fuses, working in an 18-x-40-ft rented room. The firm set the standard for the metal-enclosed safety switch, the modern residential circuit breaker and other electrical innovations.

Users call for ''Square D''

The cartridge fuse business fueled rapid growth at McBride Manufacturing during its first decade in Detroit. This was also a period when the company underwent numerous name and management changes, while Mr. Horton led the business.

In 1915, the company, known than as Detroit Fuse and Manufacturing Co., began marketing a new sheet metal version of its cast iron enclosed safety switch with a cover displaying an embossed letter ''D,'' for Detroit, within a square border. The simple trademark design soon had customers asking for the ''Square D'' switch. This new switch was so successful that the fuse business was sold in 1917, and the firm officially changed its name to Square D Co.

Throughout the 1920s and on to 1930, Square D grew by acquiring related electrical products, such as porcelain insulating parts and industrial controllers. The firm eventually grew beyond Detroit, and opened operations in Peru, IN, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.

Production and product innovation both expanded rapidly after World War II. In 1955, the revolutionary Square D circuit breaker found markets in commercial, residential and industrial applications, succeeding traditional screw type fuse boxes in most homes and businesses. The company's continued national expansion led it to relocate its corporate headquarters in 1960 from Detroit to the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, IL; and then move again in 1979 to nearby Palatine, IL.





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