Necessity and ingenuity have long been driving forces behind the world’s great inventions, and the Hoover vacuum cleaner is no exception.
The story begins in 1907. Murray Spangler, an inventor who worked nights as a janitor, was cleaning rugs in a Canton, Ohio, department store. But all the dust raised from his broom aggravated his asthma, and he called upon his inventor’s creativity to find a solution to the problem.
Spangler gathered a tin soap box, a fan, a sateen pillow case and a broom handle, then assembled an odd-looking, cumbersome contraption that managed to pull the dust away from the air he breathed. He quickly realized that this “suction sweeper,” as he called it, had enormous sales potential, and he began seeking financial backing.
Spangler’s family friend, Susan Hoover, agreed to try the machine in her home. Before long, she was singing its praises to her husband, W.H. “Boss” Hoover, owner of a leather goods manufacturing shop. Hoover bought the patent from Spangler in 1908, retained him as a partner, and soon had six employees assembling six units a day in a corner of the leather goods shop.
To educate the public about the product, Hoover placed a small ad in the Saturday Evening Post offering 10 days’ free use of a Hoover suction sweeper to anyone who wrote and requested it. But instead of sending the cleaner directly to the potential customer, he chose a reputable store in each city from which requests arrived and sent the product to that store. He sent a letter requesting that the store manager deliver the machine and keep the commission from any resulting sale, then offered the store the opportunity to become a dealer for the Company. This laid the groundwork for a national dealer network which continues today as the main channel of distribution for Hoover products. © 2006 Hoover