In 1897 John K. Stewart and Thomas Clark incorporated their Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, which made horse trimming and sheep shearing machinery. [4] In 1910 the company produced its first Sunbeam branded household appliance, the Princess Electric Iron. The company did not officially change its name to Sunbeam until 1946. [5] In 1928, the company's head designer, Swedish immigrant Ivar Jepson, invented the Mixmaster mixer.

Introduced in 1930, it was the first mechanical mixer with two detachable beaters whose blades interlocked. [6] The Mixmaster became the company's flagship product for the next forty years, but the brand also became known for the designs, mainly by Robert Davol Budlong, of electric toasters, coffee makers, and electric shavers, among other appliances. [edit] Purchases and acquisitions Sunbeam bought out the Rain King Sprinkler Company and produced one of the most popular lawn sprinkler lines of the 1950s and 1960s.

Meanwhile, Sunbeam continued to expand outside of Chicago. By the end of the 1970s, as the leading American manufacturer of small appliances, Sunbeam enjoyed about $1. 3 billion in annual sales and employed nearly 30,000 people worldwide. The John Oster Manufacturing Company was acquired in 1980 by Sunbeam Corporation. In 1981, after Sunbeam was bought by Allegheny International Inc. of Pittsburgh, most of the Chicago-area factories were closed and the headquarters moved from the Chicago region.

During this time the companies Allegheny controlled included John Zink Company (manufactured air pollution control devices) and Hanson Scale (manufactured bathroom scales and other balance machines). [7] Allegheny's 4 principal divisions, including Sunbeam, went into decline through the mid 1980s. Since Sunbeam-Oster was one of the most important divisions, responsible for nearly half of all sales, the stockholders were very concerned about the leadership. In 1986, the stockholders accused the Chairman and CEO, Robert Buckley of mis-appropriating funds. 8][9] Buckley's successor, Oliver Travers, downsized considerably and by 1988, the company was essentially just Sunbeam and Oster. The decline continued aided by the stock market crash of October 1987 and Allegheny filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. [10] In the fall of 1989 an investment group called Japonica Partners [11] purchased the remains of Allegheny for $250 million ($468. 7 million today) in hostile takeover. [12] The company was renamed Sunbeam-Oster Company, Inc. At this point the usiness was then divided into 4 divisions: Outdoor Products, Household Products, Specialty Products, and International Sales. The company headquarters were moved again from Pittsburgh to Providence, Rhode Island and then finally to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. [13] By late 1991, Sunbeam-Oster's sales had increased 7% enabling it to make the Fortune 500 list. [edit] Chainsaw Al In 1996, Albert J. Dunlap was recruited to be CEO and Chairman of Sunbeam-Oster. In 1997, Sunbeam reported massive increases in sales for its various backyard and kitchen