Appleton Celebrates 120 Years of Service to the Electrical Industry

September 8, 2023

Appleton™, a cornerstone brand of Emerson, is proud to announce its 120th Anniversary of service to the electrical industry.

Since 1903, the Appleton brand has been the benchmark for quality in the industrial and commercial construction sectors. Today, with a stable of hazardous and non-hazardous location products that number over 21,000, Appleton is recognized as a global leader in supplying the energy, chemical, mining, and wastewater industries, as well as the commercial and manufacturing markets, with a highly diversified range of solutions that enhance business value while delivering safer, more reliable power.

Appleton traces its roots back to the dawn of the electrical age in America. The Appleton Electric Company was founded by Albert Ivar Appleton, an entrepreneur and recent immigrant to the United States, who traveled by horseback to sell his Unilet® conduit bodies and boxes through the streets of Chicago. By 1947, Albert’s two-employee office had been replaced by modern facilities boasting more than one million square feet of manufacturing and warehousing space.


That same year, Albert Appleton turned over the reins of the Appleton Electric Company to his son, Arthur, who would lead the company into a period of unprecedented expansion. It was Arthur Appleton who, in the early 1960s, shifted the company’s product focus towards the fledgling hazardous location marketplace. Through continuous innovation, hard work, and an aggressive network of 1,200 distributors, Appleton leapfrogged into the number one ranking worldwide in several key categories of that product arena. 

The Appleton Electric Company was founded in 1903 by Albert Ivar Appleton. He is pictured above traveling by horseback to sell his Unilet® conduit bodies and boxes through the streets of Chicago.

During his tenure Arthur Appleton contributed many inventions to the electrical field, acquiring more than 160 patents still in use today. Upon his retirement in 1982, the Appleton Electric Company was sold to Emerson Electric with its headquarters later moved from Chicago to Rosemont, Illinois. In the ensuing years, Arthur Appleton devoted a significant portion of his time to charitable causes, notably the establishment of the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida. 

Appleton was energized by becoming a member of the Emerson portfolio of global brands. In 1997, it joined forces with OZ-Gedney, SolaHD, and Nelson to better provide industry-wide electrical solutions. To fulfill the rising demand for residential and commercial heating cables, Appleton purchased EasyHeat in 1998. In 2003, it expanded internationally into the IEC and ATEX markets with the acquisition of ATX, based in Amiens, France. Appleton can now supply a global portfolio of top-quality electrical solutions that enable defense against severe industrial conditions and dust, fumes, and gas in hazardous situations as one brand under Emerson.

Appleton has a long-standing commitment in Canada too. Its old manufacturing plant located at 750 Lawrence St, Cambridge, ON N3H 2N1 recently demolished in 2018, is pictured below. From that plant many Appleton products were made for the North American market while specialized products were engineered to serve the Canadian oil and gas segment.

Today Appleton continues to serve the Canadian Market though its newer 60,000 SF facility in Elmira Ontario.

Photo Source

By partnering with other Emerson companies, Appleton accelerated its evolution as a technology innovator and is now better positioned than ever before to supply comprehensive power solutions to hybrid, process, and discrete manufacturing in the Industrial IoT era. For instance, Appleton recently upgraded its leading LED fixtures, including adding dimming and integrating Emerson’s transformative PlantWeb™ digital ecosystem to give plant operators improved control, operational visibility, better energy efficiency, and significant performance gains. It has also embraced Emerson’s environmental sustainability strategy to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.  

Regardless of the challenges it has confronted throughout the past 120 years, including the Great Depression, two world wars, and the global financial crisis, Appleton has remained one of the strongest, best-recognized brands in the electrical industry. Moving forward, Appleton continues to pave the way for safer, more reliable delivery of critical power and lighting to essential industries worldwide.

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