Company History

Historical Fan


Two Scotland-born brothers, Charles and Alexander Meston, see a tremendous business opportunity in developing a reliable electric motor. With the financial backing of John Wesley Emerson, a former Union army officer, judge and lawyer, they establish The Emerson Electric Manufacturing Company in St. Louis, Missouri.


The fledgling company builds its business around AC motors and manufactures the first electric fans sold in North America.  Under new president Herbert L. Parker, Emerson develops a reputation for quality products. Net sales total nearly $60,000.

Historical Fan Drawing


The Emerson ceiling fan is introduced, making high-rise buildings livable. Ceiling fans soon become half the company’s business.


Emerson introduces the Parker scalloped blade design, moving air more quietly and efficiently.


A design breakthrough upgrades Emerson Motors to a more useful ½ horsepower, which are then used to power countless time and effort-saving devices, such as washing machines and sewing machines.


At the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Emerson displays its product line in the dazzling Palace of Electricity as the nationwide demand for electricity continues to soar.


By the end of World War I, Emerson’s annual sales approach $3 million dollars.


Under the leadership of Thomas Meston, the company expands into a new, eight-story factory building in St. Louis.


Herbert I. Finch becomes president during the ‘Roaring Twenties’ of general prosperity. But by the end of his tenure, the company loses almost two-thirds of sales as the effects of the Great Depression deepen.


Joseph Newman is named president and sets out to stabilize the company’s balance sheet. He moves the company to mass production of motors and adds a variety of fan lines to appeal to a broad range of consumers.


With fan sales stagnating, Stuart Symington takes over as president and wins a contract to build arc welders, thereby opening the door to sales at Sears.


Emerson begins construction of a new plant in St. Louis to build hermetic motors, but World War II intervenes and the plant is shifted to the production of shell casings.


Historical Annual Report


Emerson’s metal working capabilities are called on by the U.S. Army Ordinance Department. During the next five years, the company produces more than 10 million brass shell casings.

Much of Emerson’s dramatic growth in World War II results from government contracts to build airplane gun turrets, including the “Model 127” mounted in the nose of the B-24 bomber.


With the end of the war, Symington is asked by President Truman to head the War Surplus Property Board. He accepts and resigns from Emerson.

Oscar Schmitt is elected president and leads Emerson back to commercial production. Despite the introduction of the bench saw and a growing defense business, sales lag and Emerson faces another critical transition point.


Upon the sudden death of Oscar Schmitt, William Snead assumes the presidency of Emerson until new, long-term management can be secured.


W.R. “Buck” Persons is recruited as president. Led by Person’s focus on research and development and creating foreign markets, Emerson is reborn. He retools and decentralizes Emerson’s manufacturing base and begins a continuing process of diversification.

Over the next 15 years, Persons targets high-growth markets and diversifies the company’s business portfolio, acquiring 36 companies during his tenure, including White-Rodgers, Therm-O-Disc, U.S. Electrical Motors, Ridge Tool, and InSinkErator.

Persons institutes a strong corporate focus on cost reductions, quality improvements and formal planning.

Under Person’s leadership, the company grows from two manufacturing plants, 4,000 employees and $56 million in sales in 1954 to become an emerging global company with 82 manufacturing plants, 31,000 employees and $800 million in sales in 1973.


Charles F. (Chuck) Knight succeeds Persons as CEO and builds on the solid foundation laid by his predecessor.  Knight defines a new corporate strategy focused on new product and technology development, acquisitions and joint ventures and international growth.

Over the next 20 years, Emerson continues to expand through cornerstone acquisitions such as Rosemount (process control instruments) in 1976, Copeland (compressors for air conditioning and refrigeration systems) in 1986, Liebert (uninterruptible power and precision cooling systems) in 1987 and Fisher Controls (process control valves and regulators) in 1992.


Under Knight’s leadership, Emerson develops its best-cost producer strategy to meet the challenge of low-cost offshore competition. In the 1980s, Emerson moves into the international arena, investing abroad to meet customers’ needs in expanding markets.


The Emerson Motor Technology Center is established to support engineering and innovation in advanced motor design. It was the first of several advanced technology centers the company opens to support new product development.


Knight oversees a series of acquisitions totaling $2.5 billion. The acquisitions strengthen the company’s position in both providing reliable backup power for the rapidly expanding telecommunications industry and building infrastructure to support Internet Protocol-based communications.

When Knight retires as CEO in 2000, Emerson sales during his tenure had risen more than 16-fold, to over $15 billion in 2000. The company had also achieved its unprecedented record of 43 consecutive years of earnings growth and 44 years of consistent dividend growth.

Farr_David-Headshot-High Res


David Farr is elected CEO, succeeding Knight, who retained chairman title.

The company shortens its name to “Emerson” and launches a new brand strategy with a new corporate logo to reflect technology leadership and commitment to cross-divisional collaboration. The company posts annual sales of $15.5 billion.


Emerson makes two key moves in the fast-growing Asian markets, purchasing Avansys, China’s leading network power provider, and forming Emerson Network Power India Private Ltd.


Emerson launches its first corporate advertising campaign with tagline “Emerson. Consider It Solved.”


Farr named chairman of Emerson’s board of directors, upon the retirement of Chuck Knight.

Emerson acquires Marconi’s outside plant and power systems business.

Emerson named one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by Business Ethics magazine.


Emerson sales reach $17.1 billion, an 11 percent increase over the prior year.


Emerson airs its first-ever TV commercials to spotlight the company’s global capabilities.

The company acquires Germany-based Knürr AG and U.S.-based Artesyn Technologies further strengthening the capabilities of its network power business.

Company sales reach $20.1 billion, and dividends increased for the 50th consecutive year.


Emerson strengthens its network power and storage solutions businesses with the acquisition of, respectively, Motorola’s embedded communications computing business and Lionville Systems, a leading manufacturer of point-of-care carts for healthcare facilities.

Sales surpass $22 billion for the year, a new record. Emerson’s international sales total 52 percent, surpassing U.S. sales for the first time in the company’s history.


Emerson acquires Aperture, a leading provider of data center management software.

Emerson reported 140,700 employees worldwide that year.

It's Never Been Done Before Wall Plates


Emerson introduces DeltaV™​ Electronic Marshalling with CHARacterization Module (CHARM) technology. This new solutions reduces the complexity of connecting automation systems with thousands of temperature, pressure, level, flow, and other control and measurement devices in a typical process operation. The approach helps companies complete projects on budget, on time.

Emerson launches the “It’s Never Been Done Before” advertising campaign, focusing on examples of unique and innovative solutions that Emerson delivers to its customers.


Emerson’s new global data center in St. Louis earns two industry recognitions for environmental responsibility: LEED® Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and a 2009 Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building Award from the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council.

Emerson opens the Emerson Innovation Center, Fisher® Technology in Marshalltown, Iowa (USA).  This facility performs “flow testing” for every Fisher control valve design that simulates real-world plant conditions, including seismic qualifications for valves used in nuclear power plants.

Emerson strengthens with two major acquisitions: Avocent Corporation, a leader in delivering solutions that enhance companies’ integrated data center management capabilities and Chloride, which provides commercial and industrial uninterruptible power supply systems and services.


Emerson earns placements in Software Magazine’s list of the world’s 500 largest software and services providers, the InformationWeek 500 list of the nation’s most innovative users of technology and the CIO 100 Awards recognizing examples of organizations using information technology in innovative ways.

Emerson sales are up 15 percent in fiscal 2011 to a then-record level of $24.2 billion.


Emerson introduces the Trellis™ platform, the first data center infrastructure management (DCIM) hardware and software package that can control a complete array of data center equipment and IT resources from a single console.

Emerson’s process management business reaches one billion total hours of wireless operations across 10,000 systems with its Smart Wireless technology.


Emerson Process Management’s CHARMs automation technology logs one billion operating hours across more than 300 customer sites.

Emerson’s InSinkErator business, the world’s largest manufacturer of food waste disposers for home and commercial use, announces it has produced 150 million disposers since its founding 75 years earlier.

Emerson acquires Virgo Valves and Controls LTD of Pune, India, a leading manufacturer of ball valves and automation systems, and Enardo LLC of Tulsa, Oklahoma (USA), a manufacturer of tank and terminal safety equipment. Both are absorbed into the Emerson Process Management business.

Emerson sales reach a record high of $24.7 billion, up one percent from the previous year.


Emerson opens the Emerson Innovation Center, Process Systems and Solutions, in Round Rock, Texas (USA) to drive research and development for its process control and automation technologies.

Emerson launches Engineers in Leadership, a competitive recruitment and rotational program that allows entry-level U.S. engineering school graduates to work at three Emerson locations (two domestic and one international) over a two-year period in a variety of functional areas to gives them broad exposure to the company.

Emerson introduces Sensi™, its first universal Wi-Fi thermostat with an app that provides homeowners with remote access to their thermostat from smart phones, tablets or PC’s. 

Emerson assumes full ownership of Appleton Group (formerly a joint venture called EGS Electrical Group) which is folded into Emerson Industrial Automation.

Emerson completes its 58th consecutive year of increased dividends in fiscal 2014.


Emerson’s celebrates its 125th Anniversary by launching “I Love STEM,” an advertising, marketing and social media campaign to encourage greater interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.

Emerson announces portfolio repositioning to two core business platforms – Automation Solutions and Commercial & Residential Solutions. This optimization will drive growth, enhance investment opportunities and accelerate value creation for shareholders. 

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