Harold E. Saper
Harold Saper was a pioneer in the vacuum cleaner parts distribution business. He began his parts distribution company in Chicago in 1929. Over the next forty years, the Harold E. Saper Company grew into the largest parts distributor in the Midwest.
Beginning in the 1930’s the Harold E. Saper Company made a name for itself as a parts rebuilder. Replacement parts for many vacuum items, such as motor armatures, fields, brush rolls and brush strips were not available from original equipment manufacturers. Independent vacuum dealers mailed in their old motors, which Saper rewound, and old brush rolls and brush strips, which he rebristled, providing the parts they needed to make repairs.
Saper’s business was born out of the Depression. It began very small, with Harold delivering stock out of the back of his car. Even though materials were scarce, his business grew. As independent vacuum cleaner repair shops began to open during the 1940’s, business kept growing. It thrived as independent repair shops flourished in the 1950’s.
The years during World War II, with the allocation and rationing of most materials, was a make or break time for the Harold E. Saper Company and the vacuum industry as a whole. The war years brought out Harold Saper’s genius. He was a self educated man who knew, above all else, how to deal with people. His resourcefulness in securing scarce materials enabled him to rewind motor armatures, rebristle brush rollers and strips and find other vacuum replacement parts. His efforts, and those of his contemporaries in the replacement parts business, kept the vacuum industry alive during the war.
After the war, Harold was joined in business by his brother Gene and continued to expand his company. To provide replacement parts at the best possible price, Harold scoured the country for manufacturers to supply them. He even accompanied the governor of Illinois to Japan in 1953 on one of the state’s first trade missions.
By the time Harold was ready to retire, he had built a reputation as a resourceful and tough, but fair, businessman. Independent dealers liked and respected him, for he knew what it was like to struggle while building a successful business. Harold retired in early 1970, selling his company to the Gerson family, which continues to operate it as HESCO.
1994 Vacuum & Sewing Hall of Fame Inductee