Robert Ridderhoff, founder of the Sewing Machine Blue Book and Bobette Industries in Atlanta, Georgia, has had a great impact on the sewing machine industry. His Sewing Machine Blue Book, first published in 1969, has standardized the trade-in value dealers allow for used sewing machines.
Bob came into the sewing machine business after serving in the Navy during WWII and working as a machinist in the Tucker Automobile plant. In 1948, after a year of selling vacuum cleaners door to door, he and two partners established the Sewmaster Sewing Machine Company with three stores in the Chicago area. In 1951, Bob relocated to Los Angeles to work full time for the county government. He continued to sell sewing machines on a part time basis for an area dealer.
In 1962, Bob became a full time sewing machine distributor for a major brand, covering the state of California. By building a solid dealer organization, providing both sales and service training, and offering exclusive service areas, he increased, by 70 times, the brand’s California sales by the late 1970’s.
The idea for the Sewing Machine Blue Book stemmed from a dealer meeting in 1964. For the next five years Bob searched his dealer organization, dealers in other states and various distributors to obtain the necessary information. He compiled and analyzed this information and published the first edition of the Sewing Machine Blue Book in 1969.
The book was quickly recognized as a useful source of information by dealers and distributors. In 1970 a large group of distributors agreed to share their unbiased valuations in a cooperative effort. The Sewing Machine Blue Book has since become an industry standard.
In 1971, Bob and his wife established Bobette Industries to publish the Blue Book and sell sewing related items and parts. By 1982, Bob gave up his distribution of sewing machines to focus on his parts business and the Blue Book. He formally retired from the sewing machine business in 1990 to devote his full time to researching and publishing the Sewing Machine Blue Book.
For his contributions to the sewing industry, Bob has also been inducted into the ISMDA Hall of Fame.
1995 Vacuum & Sewing Hall of Fame Inductee