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Maytag Cleveland Cooking Products

Based in Cleveland, Tennessee, Maytag Cleveland Cooking Products began in 1916 as a family-owned and -operated company known as Dixie Foundry. Company founder S. B. Rymer Sr. was a native of Polk County, but his family later immigrated to what was then Oklahoma Territory. In 1916 Rymer and his family returned to Tennessee, settling at Cleveland, where he established several retail businesses and the Dixie Foundry Company. Dixie Foundry initially produced cast-iron holloware used for corn stick molds, fireplace grates and frames, sugar pots, and teapots. In 1921 the company began to make coal and wood ranges for the kitchen; thereafter, ranges of different sorts have been the company's main items. In 1924 production expanded to coal and wood heaters. Gas ranges came off the company's lines in 1928, and in 1952 Dixie Foundry produced its first electric ranges.

In 1958 Dixie Foundry acquired Magic Chef, which had been a St. Louis-based manufacturer of gas ranges and an industry leader since the 1930s. Two years later, company officials decided to capitalize on the consumer name recognition of "Magic Chef." They changed the company's name from Dixie Foundry to Magic Chef. Within a year the company had reasserted its leadership in the national market for gas and electric ranges, and by 1969 the corporation had achieved 11 percent of the market share in the United States.

In 1957 the company acquired Dixie-Narco, a manufacturer of soft drink vending machines, and invested in refrigerator production. In 1964 the Rymer family gave up its total control of the company's stock in order to raise new capital through a public offering of stock, and during the 1960s, the company expanded into air-conditioning manufacturing, especially after its acquisition and consolidation of the Gaffers and Sattler company of Los Angeles in 1969-70. By 1970 Magic Chef was listed in the New York Stock Exchange and had significantly diversified its factories and products. During the next two decades Magic Chef aggressively moved into the production of microwave ovens in response to consumer demand. By the late 1970s Magic Chef employed 1,800 workers at its modern factories in Cleveland, making it one of the region's key private employers. In the 1990s the company was merged with other local firms into Maytag Cleveland Cooking Products, a division with 2,800 employees in 2001.

Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » February 21, 2011