The Electric Vacuum Cleaner Company was founded in 1909 by Clarence Frantz, his brothers, and James Kirby. Its main industrial product during it's lifespan was (portable electric vacuum cleaners for the home). It's first headquarters were originally located at 1110 Power Avenue (Now St.Clair Avenue, in Cleveland Ohio), and final factory located at (1740 Ivanhoe Rd, Cleveland, Ohio, building still extant).
1910-1919: The Electric Vacuum Cleaner Companies (here on referred to as EVCC) first successful electric cleaner was trade named the "Frantz" cleaner, coming out in late 1909 or early 1910, a James Kirby design in total. This cleaner was discovered when James Kirby, interested his landlord (Clarence Frantz) in a vacuum prototype he had created. Frantz, and his brothers liked James cleaner and decided to start a partnership, to build this new lightweight cleaner in their manufacturing shops on Power Avenue. Later on, the "Premier" name was added to a new design of cleaner, referred to as the "Frantz-Premier" debuted in 1912. After a few years producing these early electric vacuum cleaners, Under the Frantz, Frantz-Premier, New Premier and others, the Edison General Electric Company, (G.E's original corporate name); asked the EVCC to manufacture for them a line of electric cleaners starting in 1912. The company EVCC continued to prosper much from the advent of the G.E. deal, and being one of 9 different vacuum cleaner manufactures in the Cleveland area as of 1916, was acquired via merger, by the General Electric Company in March 1919. This merger, being beneficial to all, gave G.E. a ready made (wholly owned) manufacturing division into the vacuum cleaner industry. It was known thereafter as the Electric Vacuum Cleaner Division (EVCC) of General Electric. Frantz as a brand name was dropped at some point by the time of the merger.
1920-1941: The Premier brand name after the G.E. merger, continued on all successor vacuum cleaner models, including upright, tank, canister style and hand cleaners; and all bearing similarities to the more common and better advertised G.E. versions. One notable cleaner from this period was the "Premier Grand", coming out in 1935. This "Art Deco" unit had the strange quirk of having the machines rotating carpet brush, spin "backwards". Most electric cleaners (then and now), that do have a motorized brush; have the brush-roller sweeping back towards the rear of the nozzle (or) towards the rear of the machine into the suction. The "Grand", swept, or the rotating brush moved (away) from the cleaner nozzle but had high suction to make sure the dirt did not spit back out in front of the cleaner.. It actually cleaned very well in this form, and was one revolving brush upright that did NOT yank delicate rug fringe like others. The company in the late 1920's began to tout their uprights with a small companion hand vacuum, and later a small canister called the "Premier Pic-Up" about 1939, and began a trend of selling the consumer not ONE, but TWO cleaners. Instead of offering a customer a tool-set that plugged into an upright (with varying results ), the new two- for-one sales (Being mimicked by General Electric as well), sent the company into the 1940's (and WWII); selling normal design vacuum cleaners of all various types.
1941-1945: The Cleveland Ohio facilities were used during WWII for governmental business, like most other companies making various munitions, and pieces subcontracted to not on GE but other companies making larger items.
1945-1949: In the postwar years, G.E. decided to take more control over their semi- autonomous divisions that included EVCC, and changes were coming for the division. G.E. continued to allow the Premier branded vacuum cleaners to be manufactured for a time alongside nearly identical G.E. units. Premier's were sold by various channels up until at least 1949. At this time, G.E. chose to have EVCC focus only on the G.E. line of cleaners. It instructed the EVCC to stop the sale of all Premier branded product, and focus only on the development of future G.E. product.
Sidebar: From 1949 to 1974, there were no proper Premier badged cleaners made, although G.E. used the Premier name on a line of gas appliances it manufactured in the 1960's. G.E., being an "all-electric" appliance producer began to hurt their market share and thusly used the Premier Moniker (of which it owned fully since the merger) on gas built appliance wares.
1949-1959: General Electric continued the manufacture of their Premier like floor care appliances, updating them as the market deemed necessary thru the immediate postwar years and had fairly successful uprights and canister including the Air-Flo Canister. As the 1950's dawned, the EVCC and GE together had a few hot products debut. Those products were: the famous G.E. Swivel-Top (1952) and Roll-Easy type Cleaners (1955) amongst others. GE rambled on fairly successfully thru the end of the decade with it's newly named "Floor Care Division", further distancing EVCC from it's past.
1960-1974: By 1960, GE had a fairly decent share of the vacuum cleaner business, and wanted more. Their hopes were devastatingly dashed however. A new line of traditional upright cleaners in 1961, a Power-Nozzle version of it's famous Swivel Top in 1962, A new (square) rather than (round) tank cleaner in 1964 called the "Power Cleaner" and a few other notables failed to give GE what it wanted, more market shar/more profit.. In fact, in terms of market share, G.E. lost some during the 1960's despite good quality machines with good features, much more was yet to be lost. By 1970, it began to be felt by G.E., that the millions it was throwing towards it's Floor Care Division; and all subsequent "new ideas" tried, was still failing to overtake Eureka, Kenmore, Kirby, Electrolux not to mention Hoover; and was being relegated to a division with about another dozen or so small players, including Westinghouse, Hamilton Beach and Lewyt. Watching Westinghouse, a major G.E. competitor who sold off it's appliances divisions in 1972 (Vacuums/Floor Care) and 1974 (Major Appliances) G.E. began to make plans to shake it's corporate structure, and to sell off- or discontinue various divisions, that weren't "guaranteed" profit makers. Sadly, after seeing that there want much fuss made to Westinghouse about abandoning vacuums G.E. decided to sell off it's floor care division in 1974. No one took the offer, and after selling some ideas and designs to other companies, a "new" version of EVCC emerged. Premier Electric Company emerged out of the G.E. fire sale and continued for 8 years.
1974-1980: After being sold off to local interests in the vacuum industry, and with the weight of the GE name still hoping to propel the new company, Premier Electric Company retreated to it's Cleveland facilities to bang out replacement parts for G.E. and to market a "dusted off" "Premier" name for a indistinguishable line of previously offered General Electric vacuum cleaners of various type and kind. The production lines stopping for "maybe" a color change, and possibly the name changes to the various dies prints, and molds needed to complete the task. Now, Premier Electric, using only the Cleveland facility strummed out designs based solely on developments while Electric Vacuum Cleaner Company was a division of General Electric . Little by little these last Premier's lost more market share, and became cheapened down horribly and by the very end were being trotted out thru discount department stores, and a few vacuum shops at incredibly low prices. The Last Premier cleaners were manufactured in late 1980 or early 1981, and afterward replacement parts ran until 1982 or so. At the very end of production, the lineup was just down to a model or two of the lowly swivel top canister. EVCC had come to an end. Jim Kirby and the Frantz brothers dream was finally gone. Tooling and such was either given to, or sold to GE foreign subsidiaries and General Electric and Premier brand cleaners continued to me manufactured, and marketed in Canada and foreign markets until the late 1980's.
Frantz Premier Company (1909-1919)
Electric Vacuum Cleaner Company (1919-1956)
General Electric Floor Care Divison (1956-1974)
Premier Electric Company (1974-1982)
- "New Premier" Electric Cleaner
- Model 19
- Premier "ShagMaster" Upright (1975)
- Premier "Whirlwind" Canister (1979)