Entering the Auto Industry 1903-1921


A. O. Smith Original Building 19041904: Arthur O. Smith incorporates A. O. Smith Company in Milwaukee. 
Ford Car 1906 1906: Henry Ford orders 10,000 steel automobile frames, leading the company to develop the world’s first mass production process for assembling frames. Within four years, A. O. Smith is North America’s largest frame manufacturer. 

Smith Motor Wheel 1914 1914: The company introduces the Smith Motor Wheel, a gasoline-powered device for bicycles. Three years later it developed the Smith Flyer, known as the world’s first 'sports car.' This technology was eventually sold to Briggs & Stratton Co. of Milwaukee. 

WWI Bomb 1918 1918: As part of the World War I effort, Smith engineers develop a coated welding rod. This breakthrough influenced the development of arc welding as a mass production method. The company remained in this business until 1965. 
Mechanical Marvel 1921 1921: Under the direction of L. R. Smith, A. O. Smith unveils “the Mechanical Marvel,” the world’s first fully automated automobile frame assembly plant. Capable of making a frame every eight seconds (10,000 frames a day), the plant operated until 1958.