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In 1908, Joe Barlow and John Seelig, two hardware store owners in Ripon, WI, purchased several hand-powered washing machines from a company in Kansas City, MO. After experimenting with the machines, the inventors were successful in devising a way to increase the machine’s efficiency through high speed gearing. The partners then purchased the manufacturing rights from the company in Kansas City and Barlow & Seelig Manufacturing was born. The company initially produced a limited amount of washers named the “White Cloud”. It wasn’t until 1928 that the brand name became Speed Queen.
During the ownership period of Joe Barlow and John Seelig, Speed Queen saw many new innovations. In 1911, the company’s first washer powered by an electric motor was built. In 1915, they introduced the first swinging wringer to operate in any direction and in 1922, the manufacturing of washers built with nickel copper tubs, a first in the industry began. In 1939, Speed Queen traded in the nickel copper tubs for stainless steel and it’s still used in our machines today.
Like many manufacturers during World War II (1942 ‘ 1945), Speed Queen halted its production of laundry equipment to manufacture 20mm shells as well as parts for airplanes, tanks and guns. Operating 24-hours a day to support the war effort, the company received numerous awards for its service.
The history of Speed Queen, from its humble beginnings in 1908 as Barlow and Seelig Manufacturing to the present is a fascinating change of events. And today, as in 1908, Speed Queen continually strives to provide you with quality products that are backed by superior customer service. With over 90 years of commercial quality and expertise we bring to you a line of washers and dryers built with a no-nonsense design and performance-based construction for your home. These products will get your clothing cleaner. After all, it’s what you expect from a company that only does laundry!