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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Ekco Products Company - Lehman Brothers Collection

Ekco Products Company

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Ekco Products Company was founded in 1888 by Edward Katzinger. Originally called the Edward Katzinger Company, this Chicago business manufactured tin pans for commercial bakeries. By the end of the following decade, the company's product line included equipment for confectioners and ice cream manufacturers as well as bakeries. It was incorporated in 1903, and three years later the company erected a five-story building.

In 1927 the company made its first acquisition, purchasing the August Maag Co., a small Baltimore bakeware-manufacturing firm. Two years later the company entered the kitchenware business when it purchased the A & J Manufacturing Co., the largest producer of kitchen tools. The company went public in 1945 under the name Ekco Products Co.

Ekco thrived and grew through acquisitions from the 1930s through the 1960s. In 1934 it purchased Geneva Cutlery Co. Three years later, the company formed a 69 percent Ekco-owned English subsidiary called Platers and Stampers, Ltd., to make a line of housewares there. In 1943 the company acquired Sta-Bright Products Corp., a producer of stainless steel cutlery. Two years later, Ekco bought E.L. Tebbets Spool Co., a manufacturer of wooden handles, rolling pins, spools, and toy parts; that same year the company also purchased Massillon Aluminum Co., a manufacturer of cooking utensils. Net sales rose from $5.4 million in 1938 to $19.5 million in 1944, and net income from $357,000 to $1.06 million. In the decade following the end of World War II Ekco continued to make acquisitions, including Murdock Metal Products, Byesville Products Co., Bergen Forge Co., Diamond Silver Co., Minute Mop Co., Republic Stamping and Enameling Co., Adams Plastic Co., Autoyre Co., and Shore Machine Corp.

The company formed a Canadian subsidiary in 1947 and a Mexican subsidiary the next year. In 1949 Ekco established the National Glaco Chemical Co. to handle the treatment and coating of commercial baking pans. The same year the company created Prudential Housewares, Inc., a house-to-house selling organization later renamed Ekco Home Products. By the late 1950s it was said that Ekco produced nearly 65 percent of all kitchen tools and 40 percent of all kitchen and table cutlery.

By 1960 the company's principal brand names were Ekco, Ekco Eterna, Ekcoloy, Ekco-Autoyre, Flint, Geneva Forge, Waverly Edge, Berkeley, Kennatrack, Worley, McClintock, and Pakkawood. Net sales rose from $31.5 million in 1950 to $85.2 million in 1960; net income increased from $2.9 million to $4.8 million in that period. The company entered new fields during that time. With the Aluminum Co. of America (Alcoa), it formed Ekco-Alcoa Containers, Inc., in 1955 to supply rigid aluminum-foil containers, particularly to processors of frozen foods and for TV dinners. Ekco bought its partner's interest in 1962 and changed the company's name to Ekco Containers, Inc. In 1963 Ekco formed a joint venture with Haustrups Fabriker Co. to establish an aluminum-foil container company in Denmark.

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