Tecumseh Products Company Records

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Tecumseh Products Company records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Tecumseh Products Company record group held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Tecumseh Products Company, founded in 1934 by Ray W. Herrick (1890-1973), manufactures hermetic compressors for refrigeration products and air conditioners. The Herrick Foundation, also founded by Herrick, is a philanthropic organization that supports education, civic, and religious causes. Records document the business operations of each company and include correspondence, annual reports, printed material, photographs, and audiovisual material.

Tecumseh Products Company was founded in 1934 by Raymond Wesley Herrick in Tecumseh, Michigan. Prior to founding Tecumseh, Mr. Herrick and Charles F. Sage formed Hillsdale Machine and Tool Company, an automotive parts manufacturer, in 1931. Upon moving to Tecumseh, the company changed its name to Tecumseh Products Company and began manufacturing hermetic compressors for refrigeration products and air conditioners.

Tecumseh Products Company applied the assembly-line production techniques of the automotive industry, which Ray Herrick learned as an employee at Ford Motor Company, to the production of refrigeration compressors. Tecumseh was responsible for multiple industry innovations including the first compressor used in window air conditioning units and the first high-speed hermetically-sealed compressor designed for commercial use. By the 1950s, Tecumseh was the largest independent producer of refrigeration compressors and condensing units in the world with notable customers such as the General Electric Company. The 1950s was also a distinct era of growth for Tecumseh. The company acquired subsidiaries Tecumseh Refrigeration Sales and Engineering Company (TRESCO, Inc.) in 1955 and Lauson Manufacturing Company in 1956. Tecumseh expanded operations globally with joint ventures in Brazil and France, in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ray W. Herrick remained president of Tecumseh Products Co. until his retirement in 1966. He passed away in 1973. Ray was succeeded by his son, Kenneth G. Herrick, who served as president until his retirement in 2003. Under Kenneth’s direction, Tecumseh expanded from 426 million dollars in annual sales to 1.34 billion dollars. Kenneth died in 2004. Kenneth was succeeded by his son, Todd Herrick, who served as president from 2003 to 2007. Todd's son, Kent Herrick, served in several leadership roles, including chairman of the board, until 2013.

Ray and his wife, Hazel Marie Forney Herrick, founded the philanthropic organization, the Herrick Foundation in 1949. The Herrick Foundation is one of the largest charitable foundations in the state of Michigan. It supports education, the arts, and civic and religious organizations through research grants, scholarship programs, and capital funding. Projects of the Herrick Foundation include building initiatives at Adrian College, Howe Military Academy, and Siena Heights College. The Foundation was responsible for the construction of Herrick Memorial Hospital, located in Tecumseh, Michigan, in the 1960s. The Herrick Foundation continues to support initiatives in the state of Michigan such as higher education, youth programs, health care agencies, churches, and libraries.

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Access to digitized sound recordings may be limited to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library, located on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.

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