Tecumseh Products Company, a multinational company with deep roots in American’s heartland, is known worldwide for its products designed to promote health, comfort, and convenience. Chances are pretty good if you take a look behind a pop dispenser or vending machine, you’ll find a Tecumseh compressor inside keeping things cool. And your child’s mini bike probably had a Tecumseh engine on it. Tecumseh’s products are everywhere, in the machines consumers and industries use every day.
A full-line, independent global manufacturer of hermetic compressors for air conditioning and refrigeration products, gasoline engines and power train components for lawn and garden applications and pumps, Tecumseh has prospered by providing high quality, competitively priced products on an expanding global basis. Its 68-year history of growth is through acquisitions and also due to successful development and application of new technologies. The company’s sound financial basis allows it to exploit technological and strategic opportunities in order to maximize shareholder and stakeholder value.
Tecumseh has adhered to its policy of not competing with its customers, preferring instead to furnish the driving force to power its customers’ finished products. Tecumseh still does business the old fashioned way, with uncompromised integrity.
Humble beginnings lead to worldwide recognition
In 1930 Ray W. Herrick opened the Hillsdale Machine & Tool Company of Hillsdale, Mich. A former employee of Henry Ford at the Ford Motor Company, Herrick initially produced parts for automobiles, as well as electric refrigerator components, small tools, and toys. In 1934, the company moved to Tecumseh, a small town 60 miles southwest of Detroit, and Herrick renamed his company after its new hometown. In 1937 Tecumseh went public with an offering of 25,000 shares.
It wasn’t long before Herrick realized the future of Tecumseh Products Company was not in the automobile industry, but in the flourishing new refrigeration industry. This resulted in the conception of the hermetically sealed compressor that became the backbone of the company’s product line.
In the 1950s the company acquired two Wisconsin-based small engine manufacturers, Lauson Engine and Power Products. These additions made Tecumseh an important presence in the expanding outdoor power equipment industry. Other acquisitions and partnerships were to follow, including two pump operations and several significant foreign operations. Today, Tecumseh has more than 30 principal locations producing compressors, engines and pumps worldwide, with facilities in Brazil, Canada, France, India, Italy, the Czech Republic, and the U.S.
Founder Ray Herrick passed away in 1973, but his vision lives on in his son, Ken, who is the current chairman of the board, and grandson Todd, who lead the company today.
High standards in refrigeration technology
Tecumseh Products Company’s global presence allows for the highest standard of refrigeration technology. With manufacturing and technology centers throughout the world, Tecumseh employs fully equipped research and development centers operated by some of the best minds in the refrigeration industry. From the U.S. to Brazil, from India to France, Tecumseh Products’ presence is well known in industry circles as a leader in refrigeration technology. Tecumseh’s refrigeration products include a broad range of air conditioning and refrigeration compressors, condensing units and refrigeration systems.
Tecumseh now participates in four distinct markets: household refrigerators and freezers, room air conditioning, unitary air products and commercial refrigeration. “Global production of the compressors for these markets number in the 10s of millions each year, elevating Tecumseh to one of the global leaders in the refrigeration industry,” says Bill Merritt, vice president of marketing and sales for the North American Compressor Group.
Engine, Power Train, Pumps
Tecumseh’s Engine and Power Train Products consist of two- and four- cycle gasoline engines ranging from 1.6hp to 25hp for use in a wide variety of lawn and garden applications as well as other consumer and light commercial applications. The Engine Group is unique in that it not only supplies the engine but the entire power train assembly including the transmission, transaxle, and differential giving the customer a complete package. Tecumseh produces and sells engines and power train products to original equipment manufacturers and distributors primarily in North America and Europe, principally in lawn, garden and snow removal equipment.
The company’s pump products are manufactured by two companies that are fully owned subsidiaries, MP Pumps and Little Giant Pump Company.
MP Pumps, a subsidiary of Tecumseh since 1975, was organized in Detroit in 1942, shortly after America’s entry into World War II. The first pumps built were used in landing craft and other amphibious vehicles in which quality and reliability were absolutely essential. After the war, the company continued to grow along with Tecumseh’s reputation for superior design, engineering and manufacturing of centrifugal pumps for a wide variety of applications.
MP Pumps remains committed to designing and developing innovative products to meet fluid handling requirements of current markets as well as emerging ones. The company currently services a broad range of markets including industrial, transportation, agriculture, and marine.
Little Giant Pump Company’s history begins in 1941, when an idea by a plumber named Doc Wolfe became the world’s first submersible electric motor-driven pump – the answer to the problem of water transfer in “swamp” evaporative coolers, a forerunner of modern refrigerated air conditioning. Called “a submersible vaporizer,” this unique, patented pump design became the cornerstone for the hundreds of different pump models Little Giant Pump Company manufactures and ships worldwide today.
Little Giant Pump Company’s comprehensive line now includes wastewater pumps, sump, effluent and sewage pumps, dewatering/trash pumps, condensate pumps, magnetic drive pumps, low pressure sewer systems, water garden pumps and products, and a wide variety of utility pumps.
With Applied Electronics, Tecumseh provides a single solution for electronic control design and manufacturing needs for a wide range OEM products. Applied Electronics focuses on the total application of technology in customers’ products. It not only supplies the design, but the design tools to help derive the desired specification. Its business is focused on providing innovative, state-of-the-art control designs to OEM manufacturers of equipment, combined with ISO 9001/2 and QS 9000 manufacturing. Applied Electronics’ mission is to develop and commercialize electronic goods and services that deliver added value, increased performance, enhanced reliability, and world-class quality, in support of the company’s global customers.
Applied Electronics presently provides electronic goods and services to the following markets:
• Commercial and residential refrigeration
• Outdoor power equipment
• Commercial and residential pumps
• Aftermarket appliance services
• Commercial beverage and ice
• Environmental comfort
MDSI, Masterflux supply superior service
Tecumseh adds to its well-known, global technical presence through its relationships with MSDI or Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc., Applied Electronics and Masterflux.
Manufacturing Data systems Inc. (MDSI) is a subsidiary of Tecumseh Products Company. MDSI’s supplies Internet-enabled, open-architecture software motion control applications that increase manufacturing flexibility and enable agile manufacturing for the CNC and GMC markets. Unlike traditional hardware or proprietary-based CNC or motion controls, MDSI’s solutions are unbundled from – and require no – proprietary hardware or motion control cards.
Masterflux was born from the need to satisfy a growing demand for powerful highly specialized thermal management systems in a number of emerging markets. The choices offered by Masterflux, include compressors with brushless DC, with advanced sensor-less drives (BLDC) and compressors with variable speed induction (VSIM) drives. The power and driving force behind Masterflux is the revolutionary control features available with this product. Customized control designs allow the customer the flexibility to vary the speed, power requirement and cooling capacity of the compressor to optimize energy use throughout the customer’s system.
A refrigeration giant in the refrigeration capital
Known for years on the city-limit sign as the “Refrigeration Capital of the World,” Tecumseh, Mich., is the operations base to which all Tecumseh’s operations report, and each operation complements the company in its mission to provide:
• A lower total applied cost
• First response and correct solutions
• Continuous value
• Exceptional customer service
• Unsurpassed quality
• Mutually beneficial customer partnerships
• Globalized engineering and research
• Utilization of the company’s complete research and development facilities
• Uncompromised integrity
As a company that realizes such integrity on a daily basis, Tecumseh also recognizes its responsibility to manufacture products, conduct operations and provide services in a manner that is responsible to the earth’s environment and protective of it’s natural resources.
The first company to market with ozone friendly and interim refrigerant products to meet government regulation for the phase-out of CFC refrigerants, Tecumseh continues to use its 68 years of refrigeration experience to continually develop and research new generations of product. These products continually meet government standards ahead of required phase-out schedules. Many of Tecumseh’s facilities have been awarded the ISO 14000 standard for their environmental responsibility.
Looking aheadand switching focus
Tecumseh recently stepped back to take a hard look at its operations and how to continue the international success it has enjoyed for the past 68 years. Intellectual and financial capital is being directed from a principally manufacturing driven focus to a market driven focus. Simply put, Tecumseh realized it needed to get even closer to its customers, learn and anticipate their needs, and quickly provide viable solutions to market problems. Says Merritt, “We value our relationships with our customers. Our success is dependent upon theirs, so giving them the necessary technology service and solutions, isn’t just important, it’s critical.”
Tecumseh has and will continue to build the finest facilities and tool those operations with the most capable machine tools and gauging systems with all the advantages that technology can offer. In the final analysis, all of this is not just window dressing, but highlights the best investment of all – Tecumseh’s consistent, close understanding and attention to its customers and their needs. Hardly a revolutionary thought, but the principle that everyone at Tecumseh lives by. The principle that has provided the company with a road map for survival, success, and growth in a rapidly changing and competitive world.