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.
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
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