Magnet features an advertisement for 1946 Norge appliances, picturing a mother and daughter looking at a window display in a Norge appliance store at a washing machine, kitchen range and Norge refrigerator.
|Father of Norge, Howard E. Blood, worked with Louis Chevrolet on the Cornelian racing car used to run in the 1915 Indianapolis 500. Blood would eventually become president of Borg-Warner.||
The Norge company was founded January 6, 1927 by an engineer, Petoskey, Michigan native, Howard E. Blood (1886-1968). Blood became aware of a compressor designed by a St. Louis engineer that used only 3 moving parts, hermetically sealed in an oil bath. The son of a Kalamazoo, Michigan auto maker, Blood found $2 million in capital and an experienced board of directors that included Elmer McCray, commercial refrigeration man from Kendalville, Indiana, and Dubois Young, president of Hupp Motors. He named his company after the Italian-built dirigible, the Norge, made the first arctic crossing in May, 1926 (in an expedition led by Roald Amundsen, Lincoln Ellsworth and Umberto Nobile).
In its first year, Norge built 1,000 refrigerators. In 1928 it built 3,000. When it hit 6,000 in 1929, there was enough volume that Chicago-based Borg-Warner purchased both Norge and another of Blood's companies, Detroit Gear & Machine. With B-W capital to fund his ambitions, Blood was soon engaged in expanding Norge. His first addition, in 1930, was what he reported was the world's first plug-in self-contained refrigerator. Prior to the Norge Rollator Coldmaker, refrigerator motors and compressors were located in the basement with tubing that ran through the kitchen floor to the refrigerator. Blood then beefed up the product line with wringer washers (1933), gas kitchen ranges (1934), electric stoves (1935), home freezers (1945), water heaters(1947), clothes dryers (1953). By 1936 the Norge Rollator refrigerator was the second best selling refrigerator in America.
Norge sales in 1959 were over $100 million. It is maybe not coincidental that Borg-Warner's decision to sell Norge to Fedders Corp came the year Howard Blood died, 1968. Perhaps B-W had been thinking that home appliances made an odd match with its many automotive products but had kept the mismatched division in deference to Blood.
In 1970 acquired Ranney Refrigerator of Greenville, Michigan and put Ranney to work making Norge appliances. In 1978 Northland bought Fedder, in 1979 Magic Chef bought the Norge brand, then Maytag bought Magic Chef and now Whirlpool owns Magic Chef.
1901 newspaper advertisement for Ranney iceboxes.
Ranney was founded in 1892 and just four years later, in 1896, employed 130 workers to produce 30,000 iceboxes. Southwest of Detroit, Ranney's home in Greenville, Michigan, population under 10,000, has been called the refrigerator capital of the world, having been the one-time home of Ranney, Gibson, White and Frigidaire.