Company History

Emerson was founded in 1890 in St. Louis, Missouri, as a manufacturer of electric motors and fans. Over the past 100-plus years, we have grown from a regional manufacturer into a global technology solutions powerhouse.

Sort By:
Historical Fan
Historical Fan

Two Scotland-born brothers, Charles and Alexander Meston, see a tremendous business opportunity in developing a reliable electric motor. With the financial backing of John Wesley Emerson, a former Union army officer, judge and lawyer, they establish The Emerson Electric Manufacturing Company in St. Louis, Missouri.

The fledgling company builds its business around AC motors and manufactures the first electric fans sold in North America.  Under new president Herbert L. Parker, Emerson develops a reputation for quality products. Net sales total nearly $60,000.

Historical Fan Drawing
Historical Fan Drawing

The Emerson ceiling fan is introduced, making high-rise buildings livable. Ceiling fans soon become half the company’s business.

Emerson introduces the Parker scalloped blade design, moving air more quietly and efficiently.

A design breakthrough upgrades Emerson Motors to a more useful ½ horsepower, which are then used to power countless time and effort-saving devices, such as washing machines and sewing machines.

At the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Emerson displays its product line in the dazzling Palace of Electricity as the nationwide demand for electricity continues to soar.

By the end of World War I, Emerson’s annual sales approach $3 million dollars.

Historical Factory
Historical Factory

Under the leadership of Thomas Meston, the company expands into a new, eight-story factory building in St. Louis.

Joseph Newman is named president and sets out to stabilize the company’s balance sheet. He moves the company to mass production of motors and adds a variety of fan lines to appeal to a broad range of consumers.

With fan sales stagnating, Stuart Symington takes over as president and wins a contract to build arc welders, thereby opening the door to sales at Sears.

Emerson begins construction of a new plant in St. Louis to build hermetic motors, but World War II intervenes and the plant is shifted to the production of shell casings.

Historical Annual Report
Historical Annual Report

  • Emerson’s metal working capabilities are called on by the U.S. Army Ordinance Department. During the next five years, the company produces more than 10 million brass shell casings.
  • Much of Emerson’s dramatic growth in World War II results from government contracts to build airplane gun turrets, including the “Model 127” mounted in the nose of the B-24 bomber.

  • With the end of the war, Symington is asked by President Truman to head the War Surplus Property Board. He accepts and resigns from Emerson.
  • Oscar Schmitt is elected president and leads Emerson back to commercial production. Despite the introduction of the bench saw and a growing defense business, sales lag and Emerson faces another critical transition point.

Upon the sudden death of Oscar Schmitt, William Snead assumes the presidency of Emerson until new, long-term management can be secured.

  • W.R. “Buck” Persons is recruited as president. Led by Person’s focus on research and development and creating foreign markets, Emerson is reborn. He retools and decentralizes Emerson’s manufacturing base and begins a continuing process of diversification.
  • Over the next 15 years, Persons targets high-growth markets and diversifies the company’s business portfolio, acquiring 36 companies during his tenure, including White-Rodgers, Therm-O-Disc, U.S. Electrical Motors, Ridge Tool, and InSinkErator.
  • Persons institutes a strong corporate focus on cost reductions, quality improvements and formal planning.
  • Under Person’s leadership, the company grows from two manufacturing plants, 4,000 employees and $56 million in sales in 1954 to become an emerging global company with 82 manufacturing plants, 31,000 employees and $800 million in sales in 1973.

  • Charles F. (Chuck) Knight succeeds Persons as CEO and builds on the solid foundation laid by his predecessor.  Knight defines a new corporate strategy focused on new product and technology development, acquisitions and joint ventures and international growth.
  • Over the next 20 years, Emerson continues to expand through cornerstone acquisitions such as Rosemount (process control instruments) in 1976, Copeland (compressors for air conditioning and refrigeration systems) in 1986, Liebert (uninterruptible power and precision cooling systems) in 1987 and Fisher Controls (process control valves and regulators) in 1992.

Under Knight’s leadership, Emerson develops its best-cost producer strategy to meet the challenge of low-cost offshore competition. In the 1980s, Emerson moves into the international arena, investing abroad to meet customers’ needs in expanding markets.

The Emerson Motor Technology Center is established to support engineering and innovation in advanced motor design. It was the first of several advanced technology centers the company opens to support new product development.

  • Knight oversees a series of acquisitions totaling $2.5 billion. The acquisitions strengthen the company’s position in both providing reliable backup power for the rapidly expanding telecommunications industry and building infrastructure to support Internet Protocol-based communications.
  • When Knight retires as CEO in 2000, Emerson sales during his tenure had risen more than 16-fold, to over $15 billion in 2000. The company had also achieved its unprecedented record of 43 consecutive years of earnings growth and 44 years of consistent dividend growth.

Farr_David-Headshot-High Res
Farr_David-Headshot-High Res

  • David Farr is elected CEO, succeeding Knight, who retained chairman title.
  • The company shortens its name to “Emerson” and launches a new brand strategy with a new corporate logo to reflect technology leadership and commitment to cross-divisional collaboration. The company posts annual sales of $15.5 billion.

Emerson makes two key moves in the fast-growing Asian markets, purchasing Avansys, China’s leading network power provider, and forming Emerson Network Power India Private Ltd.

Emerson launches its first corporate advertising campaign with tagline “Emerson. Consider It Solved.”

  • Farr named chairman of Emerson’s board of directors, upon the retirement of Chuck Knight.
  • Emerson acquires Marconi’s outside plant and power systems business.
  • Emerson named one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by Business Ethics magazine.

Emerson sales reach $17.1 billion, an 11 percent increase over the prior year.

  • Emerson airs its first-ever TV commercials to spotlight the company’s global capabilities.
  • The company acquires Germany-based Knürr AG and U.S.-based Artesyn Technologies further strengthening the capabilities of its network power business.
  • Company sales reach $20.1 billion, and dividends increased for the 50th consecutive year.

  • Emerson strengthens its network power and storage solutions businesses with the acquisition of, respectively, Motorola’s embedded communications computing business and Lionville Systems, a leading manufacturer of point-of-care carts for healthcare facilities.
  • Sales surpass $22 billion for the year, a new record. Emerson’s international sales total 52 percent, surpassing U.S. sales for the first time in the company’s history.

  • Emerson acquires Aperture, a leading provider of data center management software.
  • Emerson reported 140,700 employees worldwide that year.

It's Never Been Done Before Wall Plates
It's Never Been Done Before Wall Plates

  • Emerson introduces DeltaV™​ Electronic Marshalling with CHARacterization Module (CHARM) technology. This new solution reduces the complexity of connecting automation systems with thousands of temperature, pressure, level, flow, and other control and measurement devices in a typical process operation. The approach helps companies complete projects on budget, on time.
  • Emerson launches the “It’s Never Been Done Before” advertising campaign, focusing on examples of unique and innovative solutions that Emerson delivers to its customers.

  • Emerson’s new global data center in St. Louis earns two industry recognitions for environmental responsibility: LEED® Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and a 2009 Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building Award from the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council.
  • Emerson opens the Emerson Innovation Center, Fisher® Technology in Marshalltown, Iowa (USA).  This facility performs “flow testing” for every Fisher control valve design that simulates real-world plant conditions, including seismic qualifications for valves used in nuclear power plants.
  • Emerson strengthens with two major acquisitions: Avocent Corporation, a leader in delivering solutions that enhance companies’ integrated data center management capabilities and Chloride, which provides commercial and industrial uninterruptible power supply systems and services.

  • Emerson earns placements in Software Magazine’s list of the world’s 500 largest software and services providers, the InformationWeek 500 list of the nation’s most innovative users of technology and the CIO 100 Awards recognizing examples of organizations using information technology in innovative ways.
  • Emerson sales are up 15 percent in fiscal 2011 to a then-record level of $24.2 billion.

  • Emerson introduces the Trellis™ platform, the first data center infrastructure management (DCIM) hardware and software package that can control a complete array of data center equipment and IT resources from a single console.
  • Emerson’s process management business reaches one billion total hours of wireless operations across 10,000 systems with its Smart Wireless technology.

  • Emerson Process Management’s CHARMs automation technology logs one billion operating hours across more than 300 customer sites.
  • Emerson’s InSinkErator business, the world’s largest manufacturer of food waste disposers for home and commercial use, announces it has produced 150 million disposers since its founding 75 years earlier.
  • Emerson acquires Virgo Valves and Controls LTD of Pune, India, a leading manufacturer of ball valves and automation systems, and Enardo LLC of Tulsa, Oklahoma (USA), a manufacturer of tank and terminal safety equipment. Both are absorbed into the Emerson Process Management business.
  • Emerson sales reach a record high of $24.7 billion, up one percent from the previous year.

  • Emerson opens the Emerson Innovation Center, Process Systems and Solutions, in Round Rock, Texas (USA) to drive research and development for its process control and automation technologies.
  • Emerson launches Engineers in Leadership, a competitive recruitment and rotational program that allows entry-level U.S. engineering school graduates to work at three Emerson locations (two domestic and one international) over a two-year period in a variety of functional areas to gives them broad exposure to the company.
  • Emerson introduces Sensi™, its first universal Wi-Fi thermostat with an app that provides homeowners with remote access to their thermostat from smart phones, tablets or PC’s. 
  • Emerson assumes full ownership of Appleton Group (formerly a joint venture called EGS Electrical Group) which is folded into Emerson Industrial Automation.
  • Emerson completes its 58th consecutive year of increased dividends in fiscal 2014.

  • Emerson’s celebrates its 125th Anniversary by launching “I Love STEM,” an advertising, marketing and social media campaign to encourage greater interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.
  • Emerson announces portfolio repositioning to two core business platforms – Automation Solutions and Commercial & Residential Solutions. This optimization will drive growth, enhance investment opportunities and accelerate value creation for shareholders. 

The Helix Hero
The Helix Hero

  • Emerson opens The Helix Innovation Center on the campus of the University of Dayton (Dayton, Ohio) to provide a collaborative environment to advance research and education for the global HVACR industry.
  • Emerson sells its Network Power business for $4 billion to Platinum Equity and a group of co-investors. The sale is a major milestone in the strategic portfolio repositioning announced in 2015.
  • Emerson expands its global capabilities in fresh food temperature monitoring with the acquisitions of Locus Traxx and PakSense, extending its leadership in “cold chain” management technologies.

  • Emerson completes the acquisition of the Valves & Controls business from Pentair plc for $3.15 billion. The acquisition expands Emerson’s final control portfolio of process automation technologies.
  • Emerson appoints a vice president of diversity and inclusion to drive strategies in support of a diverse workplace.
  • Emerson completes the sale of the Leroy-Somer and Control Techniques business units to Nidec Corporation for $1.2 billion. The divestiture is part of the strategic portfolio repositioning announced in 2015.
  • Emerson launches ’We See” global advertising campaign showcasing its breakthrough innovations and opportunities to improve productivity, performance and quality of life for customers worldwide.

  • Emerson Introduces seven unified company values to its global workforce, based on inputs from 13,999 employees around the world.
  • Emerson acquires Intelligent Platforms, a division of General Electric that makes programmable logic controllers for machine automation applications. The acquisition enables Emerson to provide its customers broader control and management of their operations.  
  • Emerson purchases the Tools and Test Equipment (Tools & Test) business of Textron, which makes electrical and utility tools, for $810 million. Tools and Test is combined with Emerson’s Ridge Tool unit to form a $1+ billion global professional tools business focused on serving mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors.

  • Emerson launches a new Digital Transformation business within its Automation Solutions platform to bring together critical resources to help manufacturers develop and implement pragmatic digital transformation strategies to deliver industry-leading performance.
  • Emerson sells its Air Comfort Products business unit, which makes ceiling fans, to Luminance Brands.

  • Emerson is named “Industrial IoT Company of the Year” by IoT Breakthrough for an unprecedented third consecutive year.
  • Emerson responds to the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing employee health and safety measures globally in line with local requirements and public health recommendations in order to continue serving customers as a business supporting essential industries. Emerson technologies play key supporting roles in the production of face masks, ventilators, hand sanitizers and the manufacturing of vaccines and other pharmaceutical products, as well as HVACR systems for medical facilities.
  • Emerson is named 2020 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy for its top-rated Sensi™ smart thermostat suite. Sensi is the first smart thermostat brand to receive this honor.
  • The company posts $16.8 billion in global sales and announces 64th consecutive year of increased dividends to shareholders.
  • In its 2020 Annual Report, Emerson unveils a company purpose statement -- We drive innovation that makes the world healthier, safer, smarter and more sustainable -- and five causes it seeks to impact in positive ways (Planet, Humanity, Champion, Inclusion and Future). This initiative is based on input collected from 17,000 employees around the world.

Lal Karsanbhai
Lal Karsanbhai

  • David Farr retires after 20 years as CEO. Lal Karsanbhai is named CEO. Karsanbhai is only the company’s fourth CEO since 1954.
  • Emerson completes the purchase of Open Systems International, Inc. for $1.6 billion. OSI Inc. is a leading operations technology software provider that helps customers in the global power industry and other end markets digitize operations to improve energy efficiency, reliability and more seamlessly incorporate renewable energy sources.
  • Emerson introduces its new Lumity™ brand of analytics software and digital solutions that monitor environmental factors to help safeguard temperature- and humidity-sensitive products across the pharmaceutical and food supply chains.
  • Emerson appoints its first-ever chief sustainability officer to guide the company’s environmental sustainability strategy.

  • Emerson makes some of the boldest portfolio moves in its more than 130-year history, including an agreement to sell a majority stake in its Climate Technologies business, the sale of its InSinkErator and Therm-O-Disc businesses, and the combination of its industrial software businesses – OSI Inc. and Subsurface Science and Engineering business – with AspenTech, among other strategic acquisitions and divestitures.  
  • Emerson launches its new “Go Boldly” tagline and global brand campaign reinforcing its transformation from a trusted manufacturing stalwart into a global industrial automation leader. 
  • Emerson announces its sustainability strategy to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 2045. 
  • Emerson appoints first Chief People Officer.
  • Emerson introduces its new Emerson Management System, focused on three value creation opportunities: Organic Growth, Portfolio Management and Operational Excellence.  
  • Emerson achieves 100% on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index, is named one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality and a Readers’ Choice Top Employer by Women Engineer Magazine, among other culture and employee experience accolades. 

Please enable JavaScript to use this website.