“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
West Bend in Washington County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The West Bend Aluminum Company

The West Bend Aluminum Company Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, September 7, 2014
1. The West Bend Aluminum Company Marker
Inscription. Wisconsin's aluminum cookware industry boomed in the 20th century. Production grew exponentially from under 5 percent of the nationís aluminum cookware in 1910 to over 50 percent in 1920. Local financier Bernhard C. Zieglar (1884-1946), anticipating this trend, encouraged S.F. Mayer, Martin Weber, his cousins A.J. and C. Edwin Pick, and brothers Carl and Robert Wentorf to each invest $1,000. On September 27, 1911, the West Bend Aluminum Company was incorporated. The Wentorf brothers, formerly employed by Mirro Aluminum in nearby Two Rivers, became West Bend employees, bringing their aluminum manufacturing expertise with them.

The first products to bear the West Bend name were saucepans, a frying pan, a pie pan, and a water dipper. In 1914 Ziegler became general manager, and the company moved from an old knitting mill and button factory into a new 14,000-square-foot plant. Ninety percent of the companyís sales went to Sears and other mail-order houses.

The company introduced a “water-less cooker” (crock-pot) in 1921, one of its most successful products ever, and the “Flavo-perl” drip coffeemaker in 1922, which didnít require filter paper. Ziegler was made president in 1921 and remained so until his death. A.C. Kieckhafer (1946-1959) and J.R. Brown (1959-1971) followed.

Because aluminum
The West Bend Aluminum Company Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, September 7, 2014
2. The West Bend Aluminum Company Marker
looking south along the Milwaukee River.
was restricted to war production during World War II, the company started supplying war materials for the military. Production continued 24 hours a day until 1945, when it transitioned back to a civilian market. In 1961 the company dropped “Aluminum” from its name to reflect its use of stainless steel and other materials. The West Bend Company was acquired by Rexall Drug and Chemical Company in 1968, at which point the company employed approximately 2,000 people, about one-sixth of the communityís population. Though other ownership changes took place, the company continued to operate independently. The company, whose slogan was “Where Craftsmen Still Care,” dissolved in 2002.
Erected 2013 by Wisconsins Historical Society with funding provided in memory of J.R. Brown. (Marker Number 551.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Wisconsin Historical Society marker series.
Location. 43° 25.906′ N, 88° 11.173′ W. Marker is in West Bend, Wisconsin, in Washington County. Marker is on North Main Street (Wisconsin Route 144) half a mile north of Washington Avenue (Wisconsin Route 33), on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is located in the Riverfront Parkway, across North Main Street from the entrance to Regner Park. Marker is in this post office area: West Bend WI 53095, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Stephan F. Mayer Home (approx. 0.3 miles away); Washington House (approx. half a mile away); Old Settlers Triangle (approx. half a mile away); Tuchscherer Residence (approx. 0.7 miles away); James Kneeland House (approx. 0.8 miles away); Court House Square (approx. 0.8 miles away); Washington County Courthouse Square (approx. 0.8 miles away); First Rural Power Line (approx. 1.5 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in West Bend.
Also see . . .  West Bend Company. (Submitted on September 25, 2014, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin.)
Categories. Industry & CommerceWar, World II
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 302 times since then and 70 times this year. Last updated on , by Donald Yochem of West Bend, Wisconsin. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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