||Also in 1909, Harvey Hubbell, Incorporated, acquired a
"selling interest" in the Tea Tray Company of Newark, New Jersey. The name
referred not to equipment for afternoon socials, but to a particular configuration of lamp
shade which, fitted to Hubbell's electrical components, gave the Company a new family of
products and a more diversified business base. Acquisitions were to play a larger role in
the Company's diversification fifty years later.
The new Bridgeport plant had been in operation for more
than five years, and the Company's product lines had been continuously expanded. Catalogue
#17 was published in March of 1917 and made an interesting contrast to the old vest pocket
edition of 1901. Now 8 1/2 by 11 inches in size an bound in gold stamped leatherette, the
catalogue had more than 100 pages and listed more than a thousand products. In bulb
sockets alone, the Company manufactured 277 different types and sizes. Hubbell's toggle
action light switch which incorporated a "quick make or break" feature to meet
the rigid requirements of Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) was replacing the former two
button type push switch. Also appearing in the catalogue as a harbinger of the Company's
future focus on the industrial electrical equipment was a line of "Presturn"
products - 288 in all - which "...are guaranteed to sustain greater weight and resist
more strain than any on the market...especially suitable for general use in mills..."
Specialized designs and reliable performance in industrial electrical equipment, then as
now, are an area of expertise for Hubbell Incorporated.
Until its last year, the Twenties brought a prosperous time
and the nation had a seemingly insatiable demand for the convenience of electricity. A
Company advertisement of 1920 noted: "Over Fifty Million Hubbell Receptacles Already
Installed!" and new products emerged at a rapid pace. The Company produced a line of
32 volt devices for rural use; because city power had not yet reached the farms, some
farmers had generators to produce current at lower voltages. In the city, electricity for
public transportation and street lighting had become commonplace. The vibration of a
moving trolley car, however, caused the bulbs used for interior illumination to loosen in
their sockets, often shattering on the floor. Hubbell solved the problem with a
"Loxin" mechanism which fit into any standard socket and locked the bulb in
place. Falling lightbulbs no longer endangered streetcar passengers, and overly thrifty
commuters had to find a new source of replacement bulbs for home use.
For the home, the Company developed a system for lighting
fixture connections called "Elexit" which allowed the homeowner to install most
fixtures without hiring an electrician. Moving or replacing fixtures became much easier as
did the necessary task of taking all the lighting fixtures with you when moving to a new
The year also ended the Company's first era when its
founder Harvey Hubbell II died on December 17, 1927. He was succeeded as President of the
Company by his son, Harvey Hubbell III. Twenty-six years old when he succeeded his father,
Harvey Hubbell III had already spent years working in the business. That early experience
with electrical equipment engineering and learning the discipline of production was to
stand the Company in good stead in the decades to come.
Harvey Hubbell, Incorporated, like most manufacturers,
could not escape the rigors of The Depression. Employee layoffs were unavoidable, those
who were fortunate enough to remain saw pay cuts, and some received shares of the
Company's stock - issued in the 1936 when the Company went public to raise capital - in
lieu of pay. But as the county struggled with the economic storm, and manufacturers saw
previously robust markets shrink, there was time for preparation for better times ahead -
when they came. Harvey Hubbell III soon showed that he had inherited his father's twin
acumen for product innovation and business development. In product, as examples, he
devised the Company's lines of Twist-Lock industrial connectors with new 2-,3-,and 4-wire
devices of various ratings, designed a whole new series of locking connectors for
industrial use which he named "Hubbellock", and introduced heavy-duty,
circuit-breaking devices. During the same period, and with the help of his small staff,
Hubbell established a vital foundation for future success by assembling a network of
independent electrical distributors through which to market Hubbell products. This core
network of distributors, expanded in future years, formed a partnership with Hubbell
Incorporated which brought mutual growth in the decades ahead. Today, that partnership is
one of Hubbell Incorporated's greatest strengths.
The Company played a large part in the war effort not only
in meeting the demand for electrical components and systems to power the nation's
industries, but also in products for the special applications needed for victory. These
included components for military vehicle electrical circuits, battery-charging systems for
M-4 tanks, power jacks for test meters, vacuum tube sockets for radio communications, and
a line of electrical and electronic connectors for aircraft. The Company's years of
experience in building devices reliable enough for industrial use was a valuable asset in
the production of products which could perform under rugged battlefield conditions.
A second plant was opened in Lexington, Kentucky, in order
to meet the demand and as a safety measure since the main plant in Bridgeport was
considered vulnerable to air or sea attack. A further protective step was taken to ensure
availability of Hubbell's critical components by microfilming all engineering drawings,
production records, bills of material, etc. Three sets were produced, sealed in metal
tubes, and secreted in safe places. Fortunately, the "insurance" was never
needed and the Company continued its contribution to the national effort until the end of
In retrospect, the war had helped end the nation's economic
depression of the Thirties, and Harvey Hubbell, Incorporated, had helped end the war. In
the interim between the two periods, in the Company's 50th Anniversary Brochure published
in 1938, Harvey Hubbell III had marked his, and his Company's philosophy for the future:
"The present management is proud of the
Company's past, but concerns itself entirely with its present and future, recognizing that
times change and that it is the service of today that determines our position in the
Perhaps seen only as an introduction to the brochure at the
time, the statement now confirms the validity of his vision and his resolution to take the
Company forward to success. By establishing the foundation of Hubbell Incorporated's vital
distribution network in the 1930's, by continuing his father's record of technological
innovation with patents of his own and by extending the Company's focus on customer
service, Harvey Hubbell III formulated the corporate philosophy which positioned the
Company for the accelerating growth which would mark the last three decades of the
Company's first century.
The shift to a peacetime economy had not been without
difficulties - housing, appliances, clothing were in short supply for several years after
the war - but the thousands of veterans back from the overseas and the consequent increase
in the nation's marriage and birth rates comprised a soaring domestic demand. Industry
modernized - wartime shortages had kept plant maintenance to a minimum - then expanded.
Housing contractors and consumer goods manufacturers were busy. New businesses began to
meet the needs of increased leisure time. Harvey Hubbell, Incorporated, was ready to serve
all of these markets.
Hubbell had been one of the first to manufacture flush
toggle switches for alternating current only. The first Safety Receptacle was designed and
produced as were the original "grounding only" devices which, again, helped to
set the standards for the industry. And while Hubbell was busy on land, the Company found
new opportunities at sea.
In 1952, the ocean liner "United States" was
launched in Newport News, Virginia. Queen of the seas for many years, the ship was
completely fitted with Hubbell wiring devices designed expressly for narrow stateroom
partitions and to withstand the effects of salt air. An ardent yachtsman himself, Harvey
Hubbell III designed a complete family of corrosion resistant devices including both
on-board and dockside equipment for the expanding pleasure boat industry. A familiar sight
of marinas today, these first products were so successful that alternative designs were
produced for many industrial applications where corrosive atmospheres and materials pose
problems for standard wiring devices. The Company's sales in the new products and
continuing lines increased proportionately to these successes, but more was to come as
Harvey Hubbell, Incorporated, added diversification.
Beginning in 1960, the Company entered a new period of rapidly expanding growth in both sales and income.
Much of the growth resulted from the Company’s internal product development, a longstanding Hubbell tradition,
and a source which expanded under the industry leadership of Harvey Hubbell III and other Hubbell engineers.
A second source of growth through acquisition not only brought additional products to the Company’s network of distributors,
but opened entirely new market opportunities as well. The acquisition program began in 1958 when a plastics molding operation
was purchased to provide both in-house supply of components to other Hubbell operating units as well as incremental sales to
independent customers. Other businesses, all contributing to the Company’s growth, have been added through the continuing
acquisition program. These businesses, their year of acquisition, and their products were:
- 1962: Kellems Division with mesh grips, cord connectors, and wire management products
- 1963: Shalda Lighting as the foundation of Hubbell Lighting Division with fixtures for indoor and outdoor applications, and Grelco Ltd. industrial controls in England
- 1966: Euclid Electric which became Hubbell Industrial Controls, Inc.
- 1967: The Watford Electric Company in England producing industrial electrical components now manufactured by Harvey Hubbell, Ltd.
- 1969: The Kerite Company producing critical application electric power, signal, and control cables
- 1970: Steber Lighting with fixtures which further broadened the base of today’s Hubbell Lighting Division
- 1972: Pulsecom Division with voice and data signal processing components and systems for telecommunications, and Southern Industrial Diecasting providing components to Hubbell operating units and independent customers
- 1976: Hubbell Hermetic Refrigeration, Inc., for the remanufacture of air conditioning compressors
- 1978: The Ohio Brass Company with post and suspension polymer insulators and surge arresters for electric utilities
- 1981: Raco Inc. manufacturing switch, junction, and outlet boxes and electrical fittings
- 1985: Miller Lighting indoor fluorescent fixtures for office and commercial applications, and The Killark Electric Manufacturing Company with specialty application enclosures, wiring devices, and lighting fixtures
- 1986: The Bell Electrical Products lines of outdoor and weatherproof boxes and enclosures
- 1989: Efcor, Inc., with enclosure products, and Elan Lighting products
- 1990: Marvin Electric Manufacturing with track and down lighting fixtures, and certain assets and the business of Brand-Tex Telecommunications – Modular Products Group which became Hubbell Premise Wiring which manufactures components used in applications for voice and data signal routing and connections
- 1991: The net assets of Bryant Electric with its wiring devices and associated components, and Lexington Switch and Controls with its transfer switches and fire pump controls
- 1992: Hipotronics, Inc., with high voltage test equipment
- 1993: E. M. Wiegmann, Inc., which fabricates a wide range of cabinets, panels, and other enclosures
- 1994: A. B. Chance Industries, Inc., with electrical apparatus, associated hardware, tools, and safety equipment for electric utility applications
- 1996: Anderson Electrical Connector which manufactures electrical connectors, hardware, and tools for the electric utility industry, Gleason Reel Corp., with cable and hose management products, and two small acquisitions of businesses manufacturing power poles for commercial applications and fault detection systems for power cables
- 1997: Fargo Manufacturing Company, Inc., with transmission and distribution line products for the electric utility industry
- 1998: Three lighting businesses to broaden the Company’s product lines which were Devine Lighting (architectural outdoor fixtures), Sterner Lighting (specification grade and custom fixtures for outdoor and indoor applications including sports facilities), and Chalmit Lighting (fixtures for harsh and hazardous locations), and Siescor Technologies with digital loop carrier systems for telecommunications
- 1999: Chardon Electric Components with high voltage cable accessory products for electric utilities, and Haefely Test AG with high voltage test and instrumentation
- 2000: GAI-Tronics which manufactures specialized communication systems for indoor, outdoor, and hazardous locations, and Temco Electric Products with its boxes, enclosures and related accessories
- 2001: MyTech which designs and manufactures microprocessor-based occupancy sensors and other controls for lighting systems
- 2002: Lighting Corporation of America which manufactures a wide range of indoor and outdoor products for commercial, industrial, and residential applications, Hawke Cable Glands, Ltd., with its range of brass cable glands and connectors, enclosures, and field bus connectivity components for harsh and hazardous applications, and a pole line hardware business manufacturing various components used in the construction and maintenance of utility transmission and distribution lines
In 1975, Robert W. Dixon succeeded to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer.
Like his predecessors and those Chief Executive Officers who followed him, Mr. Dixon brought to the company’s top position the
qualities needed for continued leadership for Hubbell Incorporated: an expertise in professional management founded on years
of service with the Company in positions of increasing responsibility and the flexibility to adapt the Company’s assets and
human resources to maximize opportunity. Mr. Dixon was succeeded as President and CEO in 1983 by Fred R. Dusto. Mr. Dusto
led the Company through the mid-1980’s, lengthening those Hubbell traditions of product innovation, complementary acquisitions,
and management succession through internal development. His retirement in 1987 and the appointment of G. J. Ratcliffe, a
member of senior Hubbell management for 13 years at that time, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer positioned Hubbell
Incorporated for a new era of growth.
In June, 2001, Hubbell’s Chief Financial Officer Timothy H. Powers was appointed as President
and Chief Executive Officer and a Director of Hubbell Incorporated succeeding G. J. Ratcliffe who continues as the Chairman
of the Board of Directors.
Hubbell Incorporated Today
The Company operates through multiple manufacturing divisions and subsidiaries located in
North America, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The Company participates in a joint
venture in Taiwan, and maintains sales offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea. Product research, marketing, and
sales are conducted in this country and abroad. Because the Company has been an integral part of the growth of the
electrical equipment industry and a pioneer in the development of new products and technologies, the Company has established
a foundation of basic strengths on which to build its future growth.
Fundamentally, Hubbell Incorporated’s commitment to electrical equipment manufacture has
enabled the Company to consistently maintain its focus and apply its energies to the technology of generating, transmitting
and utilizing electrical energy. Electricity is the most adaptable form of energy, and the one which will power the 21st
century from basic industry to the most advanced electronic devices. The expertise developed during the first 100 years is
an asset vital to the Company and its customers in the future.
Diversification of product and market will provide the advantage of flexibility, i.e. the
benefits to the Company of counter-cyclical markets to provide opportunity in a dynamic economy, the benefit to customers
of a single source of supply for new construction, modernization, or rehabilitation. Through internal growth and acquisition,
in the future as in the past, Hubbell Incorporated’s breadth of line will expand the Company’s position among the industry’s
The Company’s tradition of quality, most apparent in its products but a part of its operations
as well, will continue its contribution in the future. To Hubbell management, quality is an emphasis on asset deployment to
provide the flexibility and resources to implement planned growth and consistent return to shareholders. To Hubbell employees,
quality is the focus on each day’s work in design, engineering, testing, and production. To customers, Hubbell quality is the
superior operation, reliable performance, and dependable service which distinguish Hubbell products from others.
The Company’s network of independent electrical distributors, who provide Hubbell products
and their own expertise to the end-user, are a critical asset. Some of those distributors have been associated with the
Company since the early years; others have joined as the industry expanded. Together, they form a partnership with Hubbell
Incorporated which has played a large part in the past growth, and which will plan a larger part in the future.
The combination of these – commitment to the industry, diversification of product and market,
a continuing tradition of quality, partnership with the independent electrical distributor, and the experience of
accomplishment in research and development – have forged Hubbell Incorporated’s exceptional records of growth.
The same comprehensive corporate capability will expand Hubbell’s growth in the commercial, telecommunications, lighting,
utility, industrial, and consumer markets of the future.