Square D Brand Builds on 100 Years of Leadership in Power and Control

From Its Small Start in Detroit on Dec. 15, 1902,

Business Gains Global Reach Through Schneider Electric

Dec 12, 2002, 00:00 ET from Schneider Electric

    PALATINE, Ill., Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Sunday, December 15 marks the
 centennial of one of America's best-known brands of electrical distribution
 and control equipment -- SQUARE D -- serving residential, commercial and
 industrial customers.  SQUARE D continues today as the flagship brand of
 Schneider Electric in the U.S.
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20021212/CGTHFNS3
              http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/19990301/CGM046 )
     Prior to the Square D Company merger with Schneider Electric in 1991, it
 earned unique distinction on the New York Stock Exchange by 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.
     "Very few brands that have been around for 100 years can claim that they
 meet the same essential needs of society as when they began," says Chris C.
 Richardson, president and CEO of the North American Division of Schneider
 Electric, who himself is a company veteran of more than three decades.
 "Electrical safety has always been a major priority for us, and new
 technologies we're introducing to improve electrical energy conservation and
 to support the distribution and control of alternative electrical energy
 production make this business more critical than ever."
     One hundred years ago on Dec. 15, Bryson D. Horton and James B. McCarthy
 formed the McBride Manufacturing Co. in Detroit.  They hired two women to
 assemble an initial order of 1,000 cartridge-type electrical fuses, working in
 an 18-by-40-foot rented room.
     That modest beginning grew to be a multi-billion-dollar North American
 electrical industry leader that set the standard for the metal-enclosed safety
 switch, the modern residential circuit breaker and a host of other electrical
 innovations -- protecting people's lives while efficiently distributing,
 managing and controlling electricity.
                      Signature Brand in a Global Business
     SQUARE D is now a market leading brand of Paris-based Schneider Electric,
 a $9 billion enterprise committed to "Building a New Electric World" in more
 than 130 countries around the globe.  The brand accounts for the greatest
 share of $2.7 billion in annual sales by the company's North American
 Division, which in turn provides nearly one-third of Schneider Electric global
 revenues and employs 17,000 people in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
     Complementing the SQUARE D brand in North America are TELEMECANIQUE
 control and automation products and systems, MERLIN GERIN products for
 electrical distribution, and FEDERAL PIONEER products in Canada as well as
 FEDERAL PACIFIC in Mexico.  Together, the brands of Schneider Electric meet
 the needs of customers in the residential, buildings, industry, and energy and
 infrastructure markets.
                     SQUARE D Brand Name Given by Customers
     The cartridge fuse business produced rapid growth for McBride
 Manufacturing in its first decade in Detroit, a period when the company
 underwent numerous name and management changes while Bryson Horton led the
     In 1915, the Detroit Fuse and Manufacturing Co. began marketing a new
 sheet metal version of its cast iron enclosed safety switch -- with the 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.
 So successful was the new switch that in 1917 the fuse business was sold and
 the firm officially changed its name to Square D Company.
     Around 1920, the company's famous "Jones Is Dead!" magazine advertisement
 vividly engraved the SQUARE D safety switch in the minds of company managers
 concerned about the shock hazard from exposed electrical switches.
     Through the 1920s to 1930, by acquiring related electrical products like
 porcelain insulating parts and industrial controllers, the company grew beyond
 Detroit to operations in Peru, Ind., Milwaukee, Los Angeles, San Francisco and
     World War II brought dramatic changes.  By the end of 1941, more than 90
 percent of the company's work was devoted to defense.  For a time, the company
 even made aircraft instruments and binoculars.
                           Peacetime Growth Pays Off
     Production and product innovation both expanded rapidly after World War
 II.  In 1955, the revolutionary SQUARE D QO circuit breaker found an eager
 market in commercial, residential and industrial applications -- succeeding
 the traditional screw type fuse boxes in most homes and businesses.
     New and acquired manufacturing locations in Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio,
 Wisconsin, Nebraska, North and South Carolina and elsewhere in the U.S. and
 abroad provided the products to support the company's advertising slogan at
 the time -- "Wherever Electricity Is Distributed and Controlled."
     The company's continued national expansion led also to the relocation of
 its corporate headquarters in 1960 from Detroit to the Chicago suburb of Park
 Ridge, and in 1979 to nearby Palatine, Illinois.
     Over its history, the company built a 2,000-member network of independent
 electrical distributors in North America -- the electrical industry's largest
 -- who are a vital channel in making SQUARE D the brand of choice for quality
 and reliability among local electrical contractors and industrial and
 commercial users.  In recent years, the focus on strategic accounts in North
 America and globally has made the company a preferred supplier to leaders in
 semiconductors, food and beverage, automotive, pharmaceutical and a host of
 other multinational industry leaders.
     Innovative power management technologies are helping North American
 Division customers gain greater efficiency, cost savings and electrical
 reliability for operations at single locations or spread hundreds of miles
     As global power needs intensify, new technologies are being combined to
 control and distribute electricity where it's needed, to automate homes,
 businesses and industries and to tie everything together seamlessly through
 voice, data and image communications.  SQUARE D and the other major brands of
 Schneider Electric also offer web-enabled open standards, technology and
 equipment for automating factories and power distribution, with products that
 include web-enabled PLCs (programmable logic controllers), AC drives, motor
 starters and other equipment connected to the Internet through standard
 Ethernet cable installations in buildings of every kind.
                           Brand Name Speaks Volumes
     In brand studies conducted over more than four decades, the SQUARE D
 trademark continues to be among the most highly recognized brands of its kind,
 says Robert P. Fiorani, vice president of communication for the North American
     "The North American brand strength of SQUARE D was an asset that Schneider
 Electric prized when the two companies merged in 1991, and it continues even
 stronger today," Fiorani commented.
     "Wherever end users, contractors, builders or engineers make a choice
 among electrical brands, SQUARE D comes to mind as a preferred brand.  We
 continue working to enhance the perception of the SQUARE D brand and Schneider
 Electric as the most focused, customer-oriented provider of electrical
 distribution, control and automation solutions in North America and wherever
 our multinational customers may be operating."
     Headquartered in Palatine, Ill., the North American Division of Schneider
 Electric had sales of $2.7 billion in 2001. The North American Division is one
 of three geographic divisions of Schneider Electric, headquartered in Paris,
 France, and markets the brands of Schneider Electric in the United States,
 Canada and Mexico. In the U.S., it is best known by its flagship SQUARE D
 brand, a market-leading brand of electrical distribution, industrial control
 and automation products, systems and services. Schneider Electric is a global
 electrical industry leader with 2001 sales of approximately $8.7 billion.
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SOURCE Schneider Electric