Former Major Business
Automotive Products (1899-1997)
Arthur O. Smith experimented with a pressed-steel construction automobile frame at the close of the 19th Century. His first order, to the Peerless Car Company, was in 1902. Following a major order from Henry Ford, A. O. Smith Corporation quickly became the largest manufacturer of car frames in North America. Other components included truck frames, side rails for heavy trucks, axles, steering gears, and control arms. Company sold the business to Tower Automotive (1997).
Beer Tanks (1933-1963)
Using its glass-fused-to-steel technology, the company developed a one-piece glass-lined tank for the brewing industry immediately after Prohibition. The seamless tank was easier to clean and maintain than existing tanks. The company branched out, making storage tanks for other beverages and chemicals. A. O. Smith sold the business to Coors Brewery (1963).
Electrical Products (1940-2011)
The company originally entered motors to supply oil well pumps and motors to support its oil industry activities. After World War II, the motor product line expanded, particularly with the 1950 acquisition of the former Whirl-A-Way business in Tipp City, Ohio. Electrical Products made motors for a wide variety of residential and commercial applications. A. O. Smith sold the business to Regal Beloit Corporation in August 2011.
Harvestore ® Products (1946-2001)
Another application of the company's glass-fused-to-steel technology, the Harvestore ® structure was used to store feed for dairy and livestock operations. From 1949 until 1984, nearly 75,000 units were sold to farms throughout North America. The recession of the 1980s caused major downturn in the business. In 1995, the company acquired Peabody TecTank and combined that business with Harvestore to form the Engineered Storage Products unit. The business was sold to CST Industries, Inc. in January 2001.
Line Pipe (1927 until 1972)
Company began manufacturing large-diameter welded steel pipe for the oil and natural gas industries in 1927, later introducing welded casing for oil well drilling. Renamed Tubular Products Division (1945). Formed joint venture in Houston, Texas, with Armco Steel Corporation (A. O. Smith of Texas). Company closed pipe mill in Milwaukee (1970) and sold its interests to Armco (1972).
Pressure Vessel Division (1925-1963)
A. O. Smith began making welded pressure vessels for the petroleum refining industry in 1925, eventually branching out to the chemical, paper-making, and related industries. Pressure Vessel Division formed in 1945, later renamed the Process Equipment Division (1958). The company sold the business to Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (1963).
Smith Fiberglass Products Inc.(1958-2000)
The company began experimenting with fiberglass pipe and fittings in a Milwaukee pilot operation during the 1950s. Formed Dow Smith, Inc., a joint venture with Dow Chemical Co. (1962) and opened a plant in Little Rock, Ark. In 1969, A. O. Smith and Inland Steel formed a venture to manufacture metal powder and glass fiber reinforced products including automobile bodies such as the Corvette. The A. O. Smith-Inland powered metal operation liquidated in 1978, and A. O. Smith bought Inland's share of the fiberglass business (1986) creating Smith Fiberglass Products subsidiary. Business sold to Fiberglass Systems, L.P. and Tuboscope (Holding U.S.) Inc. (2000).
Smith Meter Systems (1937-1976)
This unit manufactured petroleum meters, valves and related oil-field equipment as well as gasoline dispensing pumps. The original Smith Meter Company was founded in Los Angeles, Calif., by R. Stanley Smith, a nephew of A. O. Smith and son of Alonzo Smith. Smith Meter was acquired in 1937, followed by Neptune Meter (1948) a manufacturer of service station pumps. Added the Erie Meter Systems Inc. operation (1958) and consolidated operations in Erie, Pa. Reformed as Meter & Service Station Equipment Division (1961). Business sold to GeoSource Inc. of Houston, Texas (1976).
Welding Products (1918-1965)
A. O. Smith began making its own welding electrodes during World War I. The company developed proprietary technology for weld rods and used that capability to expand its business into pressure vessels and line pipe. Began marketing weld rods and welding equipment to outside customers in 1938. Company sold the business to Harnischfeger Corporation of Milwaukee.