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Clarence G. Frantz
Co-founder, Frantz Industries
D.O.B. - D.O.D. unknown

Ed Frantz met Jim Kirby in 1910 when he sold him one of the apartment houses that he and his brother Clarence were building on speculation and then selling on completion. Ed was so impressed with a new, innovative vacuum that Kirby had invented that he bought the rights and founded the Premier Vacuum Cleaner Company, which started production in 1911. The cleaner used a G.E. 3000 RPM motor and sold for $25.00. A Philadelphia jobber, L. D. Berger, purchased and marketed all the units the factory could produce. The first Premier motors were purchased from Fort Wayne Electric; however, a shortage in supply caused the Frantz Brothers to hire several engineers (Milton Spielman, Walter Posse) to make their own motors. In 1915, the company was purchased by the General Electric Company, which changed the name to the Electric Vacuum Cleaner Company. This was GE’s entry into the vacuum market. In 1912, Clarence and Walter formed the Apex Electric Manufacturing Company to make both vacuums and washing machines.

William Orr, who designed the first Apex cleaner, went to GE with their purchase of Premier. In 1916, Spielman and Posse left Premier along with other associates to make small motors and formed the Domestic Electric Co. (VIZ. Black & Decker and Lamb Electric). The Frantzes are credited with many firsts which include the first divided model, the first use of a motor-driven brush, the first use of a two-speed vertical motor. They were also the first to retain an industrial designer to add professional styling to their machines. Among the most unusual vacuums introduced was a 1920 German-designed unit which looked like an ice cream cone and rolled on the floor. Sold in Germany under the trade name Rotorex, it was also manufactured in the Frantz factory under the name Apex Rotorex. Later the name was changed to “The Renovator.” With several styling changes, it was marketed by a New York entrepreneur, Martin V. Kelley, until the start of World War II when the company was dissolved.

1994 Vacuum & Sewing Hall of Fame Inductee