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A.O. Smith Corporation has become a global leader in water technology and leading manufacturers of residential and commercial water heaters and boilers. They offer a comprehensive product line that features the best-known brands in North America, China, and India. Here is a history of A.O. Smith and the legacy that they’ve built over 145 years.

Small Beginnings

A.O. Smith Corporation began with Charles Jeremiah Smith in the summer of 1874. He started a small business in Milwaukee, Wisconsin making “hardware specialties.” He couldn’t have imagined that his one-person endeavor would grow into the thriving, global manufacturer that it is today with more than 16,000 employees.

C.J. Smith had one focus: take care of his customers, solve their problems, and help them find “a better way.” And, he did so with honesty and integrity, which continues to be the foundation of A.O. Smith today.

Innovating the Automobile Industry

S.J. Smith’s small business quickly grew, supplying metal parts for baby carriages and bicycles. It wasn’t long before all three of his sons joined the company. They shared their father’s belief in technology and innovation.

During the earliest days of the automobile revolution, A.O. Smith developed a new, lightweight steel car frame. Within a few years, he sold those frames to “who’s who” of carmakers including Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and Ford.

In 1906, with the help of Henry Ford’s 10,000 frames order, the company developed the world’s first mass-production process for assembling frames. Within four years, A.O. Smith was North America’s largest frame manufacturer.

A.O. Smith continued to produce innovative ideas and products for the automobile industry through the years, as well as in many other technological ventures.

History of A.O. Smith Water Heaters

A.O. Smith patented the glass-line water heater in 1936. This concept quickly became the standard of the industry (even to this day), making the water heater affordable for homeowners. Three years later they began mass-producing residential water heaters.

After acquiring the Burkay Company of Toledo, Ohio, the company officially entered the market for commercial water heaters. The coil-type “instantaneous” heaters served as the foundation for the development of their commercial water heater line. By 1954, the water heater division introduced the first glass-lined commercial water heater, the A. O. Smith Burkay B-65.

The Company Expands Beyond the U.S.

The company continued to grow and expand outside of the United States for more opportunities. A.O. Smith expanded into Canada and Europe, opening small water heater operations to serve those markets.

More recently, the corporation became one of the first U. S. water heater manufacturers to enter the Chinese and Indian market, bringing with it the honesty and integrity synonymous with the A.O. Smith name.  Today, A.O. Smith is a global water technology company manufacturing residential and commercial water heaters and boilers and water purification equipment.

A Company of Solutions

As indicated by their timeline, the history of A.O. Smith is one of discovering creative ways to solve customer problems so that they can be successful. It’s also a history of achievement, integrity, innovation, and customer satisfaction.

Wallingford Sales ships A.O. Smith commercial water heaters and parts directly to you at wholesale prices. Shop our online catalog for electric, gas, and propane water heaters for your business or facility. We are happy to answer any questions you have or help you with your order. Contact us at (866) 977-2537 or visit our website.

SEE HERE: A.O. Smith BTH-199 Commercial Water Heater