The SCOTT AND FETZER CO., a major diversified conglomerate, began in 1914 when George H. Scott and Carl S. Fetzer organized the George H. Scott Machine Co. located at 118 Noble Ct. The firm incorporated on 30 Nov. 1917 as the Scott & Fetzer Machine Co. and then moved to the corner of Locust Ave. and W. 114th St. Two years later, it shortened the name to Scott & Fetzer Co. By 1922 the company had begun to manufacture the vacuum cleaner designed in 1918 by Cleveland inventor James B. Kirby.
Scott & Fetzer grew steadily and by 1951 had moved to 1920 W. 114th St. Its Kirby vacuum cleaners were sold door-to-door by 4,000 salespeople in 1956. The company began to expand and diversify in 1964, acquiring numerous companies, among them Cleveland's PLM Products, the Adalet Co., the Halex Die Casting Co., and the Cleveland Wood Products Co. Scott & Fetzer bought World Book-Childcraft Intl. Co. in 1978, boosting sales to $697 million in 1979. The company pared down its operations in 1982 after earnings declined 6.8%. Three product groups were established: Education, Information & Training, producing encyclopedias, reference books, and software; Household Products & Services, manufacturing Kirby vacuum cleaners and floor maintenance equipments; and Commercial Industries, making connectors, fittings, medical regulators, and flow meters. In 1984 Scott & Fetzer had sales of $695 million and a net income of $40.6 million from 12 subsidiaries, operating 42 plants that employed more than 16,000 people in the U.S. and Canada. In 1986 the company was taken over by Berkshire Hathaway of Omaha, NE, an insurance holding company.