Best known for its Dirt Devil brand vacuum cleaners, Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company is one of the world's oldest vacuum makers. After languishing for decades, a new management team and a redesigned product line took the firm to the top of Real Estate Company Slogans Ideas hand-vacuum heap in the late s. Fueled by sales of its devil-red hand-vacuums, Royal rose to the number-three spot among vacuum companies, behind Hoover and Eureka.

But Royal's sales and profits declined precipitously in the early s, as the hand-held segment matured and Royal encountered intense competition in Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company Inc hotly contested upright vacuum market. Balch resigned in mid He was succeeded by Michael Merriman, the year-old chief financial officer who had come to Royal just three years before.

Merriman and his team of "young turks" hoped to parlay the Dirt Devil brand's 90 percent awareness level into consistent sales and profitability in the mid-to-late s. Royal was founded as the P. Geier Company in Company namesake Philip Geier established the business in his garage, where he made some of the earliest vacuum cleaners by hand. Geier diversified into washing machines, hair dryers, mixers, and other small electric appliances, and was soon able to move his growing company into a four-story headquarters.

Inthe company introduced what it called "the industry's first hand-held vac," known either as "the Princess" or the "Royal Prince. Geier's appliance production continued Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company Inc until World War II, when the company's facility was drafted to make military goods like aircraft fittings, tank transmissions, and even some incendiary devices.

Geier continued to make vacuums in the postwar era, expanding his product line to include such eclectic devices as peanut roasters and hydraulic devices. The company experienced the first of many management shakeups inwhen it went bankrupt, was acquired by the Walter E. Schott Organization, and was renamed Royal Appliance Mfg. InStanley E.

Erbor led an employee buyout and became president of the rejuvenated company. According to a company history, Royal "thrived under Erbor's leadership," moving to a modernized, suburban headquarters in When Erbor died reportedly at the company water fountain in at the age of 82, the company's fate once again came into question.

Royal had been on the market two years when John A. Raised in rural Coshocton, Ohio, Balch had graduated from that state's Miami University in with Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company Inc degree in accounting and had gone to work for the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. He entered the Navy's officers candidate school in and returned to Arthur Andersen in after completing a tour of duty in the Mediterranean.

Balch lost his job as an information manager with a medical equipment manufacturer in a takeover. CEO Balch and his new management team overhauled the company from top to bottom. Balch quickly changed gears, reserving the heavy-duty Royal brand for the industrial market and creating an entirely new product for the consumer market. His company's second stab at the design resulted in the eye-catching, lightweight, red plastic model dubbed the "Dirt Devil" by Wyse Advertising agency.

The transformation of Royal included operational changes in manufacturing, distribution, and marketing techniques. The company outsourced parts manufacture, maintaining assembly plants instead. This strategy enabled Royal to stay fast on its feet in the rapidly changing, highly competitive vacuum market, and greatly reduced its overhead. The Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company Inc moved its distribution from independent "mom and pop" vacuum shops to mass retailers like Wal-Mart, KMart, and Target.

New marketing strategies included point-of-sale displays, cooperative advertising, a toll-free customer service number, and a day return policy. The Balch-led revitalization was wildly successful: Royal sold 50, Dirt Devils in alone and had captured a whopping two-thirds share of the hand-held vacuum segment by Royal worked to capitalize on the Dirt Devil success with product line and geographic expansions in the late s.

Although the brand dominated the hand-held segment, hand vacs constituted only less than one-third of the overall vacuum market. The real sales potential resided with uprights, which made up 70 percent of U.

Royal launched Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company Inc Dirt Devil Broom Vac, a lightweight upright, in and began offering a canister model the following year. The decline was precipitated by a combination of rumors and disappointing reports. Some analysts believed that the stock had risen unrealistically high and fast and that it was going through a predictable correction.

Others blamed Wall Street's rumor mill for the drop. Royal's guaranteed sales policy was a major bone of contention. Guaranteed sale can be defined as the direct sale of product to the retailer with the provision that any unsold merchandise will be repurchased. The company reported that a strong holiday season had fueled a percent year-over-year increase in sales.

The ones who stuck with the stock filed a dozen class action lawsuits, charging that Royal executives used guaranteed sales to inflate earnings figures, did not maintain a reserve against returns, and mischaracterized the company's financial health. Although the stockholder suits were dismissed inRoyal's problems continued throughout the early s. Richmont was thwarted in its attempt to gain a seat on Royal's board of directors, but increased its investment in the vacuum company to The fourth quarter merchandise returns came back to haunt Royal during 's holiday selling season, when retailers cut back their orders by 50 percent to avoid a repeat performance.

The company blamed its poor performance on high Richardson Cap Company advertising expenses and competitive pressure to lower prices.

Royal was also stung by losses in market share on both its hand vac and upright fronts--its share of the upright market declined from Inthe company moved its battle with primary competitor Hoover to the courtroom, challenging the latter's "Cleaning Efficiency Rating" as "misleading advertising. Royal and Hoover continued to wage this part of their "floor war" through Analysts agreed that the company needed a hot new product to resume profitability and growth.

On the operations side, Royal cut jobs, closed a plant, and shaved 30 percent from the domestic advertising budget.

The company appeared to have effected a tentative turnaround by The company dipped back into the red in In July, after two consecutive quarterly losses, Royal's board of directors asked for and received John Balch's resignation.

Balch and company had promoted CEO Michael Merriman to president and the new position of chief operating officer earlier that year, and the year-old executive advanced to the top position after just three years at Royal. Merriman Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company Inc spent his entire career at Arthur Andersen, and had been senior auditor of Royal's account there since Louis Schneeberger, an outside director, was elected chairman.

Merriman publicly revealed his strategy to revitalize Royal during his first month at the helm, thereby taking a first step toward one goal, "re-establishing ties to Wall Street. The company added an ingenious on-board tool, a leaf blower, to its Dirt Devil Wet Dry vacuum. Merriman also hoped to continuously raise product quality and improve productivity. The company blamed much of the loss on charges related to the pending sale of its European operations, but some of the shortcoming was also due to sliding gross margins.

In spite of its persistent difficulties, Royal had at least one undeniable strength: its widely known Dirt Devil brand. Merriman and company hoped to use that valuable tool to return to profitability and growth in the late s. Toggle navigation. User Contributions:. Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: Name:. E-mail: Show my email publicly. Public Comment: characters. Send comment. Other articles you might like:.

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The ROYAL APPLIANCE MANUFACTURING CO. had its beginnings in 1905 in the P.A. Geier Co. on E. 105th St. In 1912 the punch press manufacturer decided to launch a new line of vacuum cleaners which it marketed under the "Royal" trademark. In 1949, Schott Industries of Cincinnati bought the P.A. Geier Co. and, just three years later, decided to liquidate the local company.…

Royal Mfg

The Mallory family’s involvement with Royal Manufacturing began in the Depression years. "In the late 1930s, my mother Lee started working for Royal Manufacturing, which at the time was a small specialty grease company serving the oil fields," related Bill Mallory. Read More About Our History…