NORTHERN TOWNSHIP – One hundred years ago, 160 of the world’s best sellers made a pilgrimage to Canton du Nord, the former capital of vacuum cleaners.
Men like Lloyd Doolittle and Fred Roake have come from afar to enjoy the camaraderie and celebrate the success of The Hoover Co.
And also discover some tips.
Founder WH “Boss” Hoover called it the International Sales Agreement, a retreat and convention that began July 20, 1921 and ended July 27 at Hoover Camp.
The camp, which now sits across from Walsh University on East Maple Street, was set up on the Hoover family farm. Today this land is known as Hoover Park and is owned by Walsh.
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âIt was a huge event that took place in our city,â said Megan L. Pellegrino, director of Historic Center Hoover, which occupies the former childhood home of âBossâ Hoover.
She said The Hoover Co. set up large tents and the vendors camped on the property for seven days, playing games and learning new tricks of the trade. There was also music and skits.
The meeting of the International Sales Convention
The 1921 convention would be the first in a long series spanning four decades at The Hoover Co.
Both events will provide the public with rare access to historic grounds, parts of which are typically private.
âI still think 100th birthdays are pretty cool and you shouldn’t miss them,â Pellegrino said.
The convention was an opportunity for the salespeople to build relationships with each other and meet their bosses, Hoover and his son HW Hoover.
Conversely, it was a chance for the Hoovers and other executives to “see the faces” of the men selling their product in England, Canada and the United States, Pellegrino said.
The convention – and the pageantry that accompanied it – was akin to the Hall of Fame dedication festival of professional football. It was a huge deal for the company and the community.
Salespeople “have flocked from all directions to attend the largest convention ever hosted by their company,” said the company’s internal publication, the Daily Ibaisic, July 21, 1921.
Ibaisaic was the abbreviation for âIt Beats As It Sweeps As It Cleans,â an old Hoover advertising slogan.
By train, tram and automobile, most of the men arrive in town on July 20 and are greeted by a welcoming committee. The headline of the Daily Ibaisaic read: âHi, hi, our gang is here!
Hundreds of Hoover employees, many of whom are residents of the Northern Township area, lined the streets near the factory and cheered on the vendors in town with a parade. It was a celebration.
All departments of The Hoover Co. were represented in the parade. There were flags, music and brightly colored floats.
âIt was huge for all of northern Canton,â said Pellegrino.
The conventions took place each year from 1921 to 1928; and, after a short break, they sporadically returned from the 1930s to the 1950s.
The conventions gained momentum with the addition of a banquet hall and auditorium at Hoover Camp. It has also become a meeting place for salespeople and factory workers.
âYou know they celebrated the vendors, but that wasn’t all for them. It was also for the community,â Pellegrino said.
Reconnecting the past
Pellegrino was curator of the Hoover Historical Center for 10 years before moving to another post in 2018. After a two-year absence, she returned in February to become director of the center.
âI want to relate the story to the events,â she said.
The Hoover Co. began manufacturing electric vacuum cleaners in 1908 after “Boss” Hoover purchased the patents from janitor and inventor James M. Spangler. Prior to that, Hoover was a tannery business.
The Hoover family retained control of the business until 1985 before Chicago Pacific acquired it. Maytag bought Chicago Pacific and Hoover for $ 1 billion in 1989.
In 1995, Maytag sold all of Hoover’s overseas operations. That left the North American operations. In 2004, Maytag moved all white collar jobs to Newton, Iowa. Whirlpool bought Maytag in 2006.
A year later, Techtronics Industries (TTI) purchased the Hoover unit from Whirlpool and eventually moved all of its operations out of Stark County, including North Canton.
Pellegrino said TTI Floor Care North America, a division of TTI, manages the Hoover brand and sponsors anniversary events. She said the North Carolina division wants to reconnect the brand to its roots and plans to be at the festival.
âIf you think about it, there aren’t many brands that would ever have this kind of historic opportunity,â said Jessica Rapp, vice president and general manager of TTI Floor Care, in a prepared statement.
Rapp added, “But we’re not just celebrating a milestone in time. We’re celebrating the people and community who have kept Hoover’s rich history alive for over 100 years. We are proud to be a part of this century – ancient heritage. “
The old Hoover factory still stands on the corner of Main Street and Maple Street in downtown North Canton. The fireplace remains an emblematic monument. Pellegrino said the company may be gone, but its place in local history has never wavered.
âYou know you can go to any part of the world and show the Hoover logo and people know that means vacuum cleaners,â Pellegrino said. “We should always be proud of it because it started here.”
Contact Benjamin Duer at 330-580-8567 or [email protected]
Follow on Twitter @bduerREP
Hoover Historic Center Vendor Birthday
- Hoover Park Camp (July 16): Families bring their own tents and spend the night enjoying the property. The cost is $ 30 per tent and a family movie will be shown in the banquet hall. Camp begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and ends at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Bring your own food. Space is limited. The deadline to purchase tickets online for this event is Tuesday.
- Hoover Park Festival (July 17): A free event open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. The festival will include tours of the Hoover Historic Center Museum and Gardens, history talks, a plant sale, storytelling, garden talks and food trucks.
- More details: www.walsh.edu/hoover-historical-center.html.