100 years ago vacuum cleaner vendors swept tips at camp
NORTHERN TOWNSHIP – One hundred years ago, 160 of the world’s best salespeople made a pilgrimage to Canton du Nord, the former capital of vacuum cleaners.
Men like Lloyd Doolittle and Fred Roake have come from afar to enjoy the camaraderie and celebrate the success of The Hoover Co.
And also discover some tips.
Founder WH “Boss” Hoover called it the International Sales Convention, a retreat and convention that began July 20, 1921 and ended July 27 at Hoover Camp.
The camp, which now sits across from Walsh University on East Maple Street, was set up on the Hoover family farm. Today this land is known as Hoover Park and is owned by Walsh.
“It was a huge event that took place in our city,” said Megan L. Pellegrino, director of Historic Center Hoover, which occupies the former childhood home of “Boss” Hoover.
She said The Hoover Co. set up large tents and the vendors camped on the property for seven days, playing games and learning new tricks of the trade. There was also music and skits.
The meeting of the International Sales Convention
The 1921 convention would be the first in a long series spanning four decades at The Hoover Co.
And, 100 years later, the Hoover Historical Center and Walsh University will mark the anniversary with a camp on July 16 and a free festival on July 17.
Both events will provide the public with rare access to historic grounds, parts of which are typically private.
“I still think 100th birthdays are pretty cool and you shouldn’t miss them,” Pellegrino said.
The convention was an opportunity for the salespeople to build relationships with each other and meet their bosses, Hoover and his son HW Hoover.
Conversely, it was a chance for the Hoovers and other executives to “see the faces” of the men selling their product in England, Canada and the United States, Pellegrino said.
The convention – and the pageantry that accompanied it – was akin to the Hall of Fame dedication festival of professional football. It was a huge deal for the company and the community.
Salespeople “flocked from all directions to attend the largest convention ever hosted by their business,” the company’s in-house publication, the Daily Ibaisaic, said on July 21, 1921.
Ibaisaic was the abbreviation for “It Beats As It Sweeps As It Cleans,” an old Hoover advertising slogan.
By train, tram and automobile, most of the men arrive in town on July 20 and are greeted by a welcoming committee. The headline of the Daily Ibaisaic read: “Hi, hi, our gang is here!
Hundreds of Hoover employees, many of whom are residents of the Northern Township area, lined the streets near the factory and cheered on the vendors in town with a parade. It was a celebration.
All departments of The Hoover Co. were represented in the parade. There were flags, music and brightly colored floats.
“It was huge for the entire Northern Canton,” said Pellegrino.
The conventions took place each year from 1921 to 1928; and, after a short break, they sporadically returned from the 1930s to the 1950s.
The conventions gained momentum with the addition of a banquet hall and auditorium at Hoover Camp. It has also become a meeting place for salespeople and factory workers.
“You know they were celebrating the vendors, but it wasn’t just about them. It was also about the community, ”said Pellegrino.
Reconnecting the past
Pellegrino was curator of the Hoover Historical Center for 10 years before moving to another post in 2018. After a two-year absence, she returned in February to become the director of the center.
“I want to relate the story to the events,” she said.
The Hoover Co. began manufacturing electric vacuum cleaners in 1908 after “Boss” Hoover purchased the patents from janitor and inventor James M. Spangler. Prior to that, Hoover was a tannery business.
The Hoover family retained control of the business until 1985 before Chicago Pacific acquired it. Maytag bought Chicago Pacific and Hoover for $ 1 billion in 1989.
In 1995, Maytag sold all of Hoover’s overseas operations. That left the North American operations. In 2004, Maytag moved all white collar jobs to Newton, Iowa. Whirlpool bought Maytag in 2006.
A year later, Techtronics Industries (TTI) purchased the Hoover unit from Whirlpool and eventually moved all of its operations out of Stark County, including North Canton.
Pellegrino said TTI Floor Care North America, a division of TTI, manages the Hoover brand and sponsors anniversary events. She said the North Carolina division wants to reconnect the brand to its roots and plans to be at the festival.
“If you think about it, there aren’t many brands that would ever have this kind of historic opportunity,” said Jessica Rapp, vice president and general manager of TTI Floor Care, in a prepared statement.
Rapp added, “But we’re not just celebrating a milestone in time. We celebrate the people and community who have kept Hoover’s rich history alive for over 100 years. We are proud to be part of this century-old heritage.
The old Hoover factory still stands on the corner of Main Street and Maple Street in downtown North Canton. The fireplace remains an emblematic monument. Pellegrino said the company may be gone, but its place in local history has never wavered.
“You know you can go anywhere in the world and show the Hoover logo and people know that means vacuum cleaners,” Pellegrino said. “We should always be proud of it because it started here. ”
Walsh University’s Historic Hoover Center will mark the 100th anniversary of the first international sales convention in North Canton next weekend.
Megan Pellegrino, director of Walsh University’s Hoover Historic Center, spoke on Thursday of the 100th anniversary of the first international sales convention when The Hoover Co. brought its best salespeople from around the world to North Canton.