Edwin L. Wiegand, a young, brilliant, self-taught engineer was granted his first patent for inventing a resistance heating element embedded in an insulating refractory enclosed in a metal sheath. This invention was ahead of its time. Who could imagine that electric heat would become an integral part of cooking, home heating, and manufacturing processes?
A few years later, with one employee, the company was founded in a small room in Pittsburgh, PA. They received their first order for a strip heater, which paved the way for today's modern household iron. Edwin needed a name for his new company. He chose a name that reflected on his new product. Combining the word “chrome” found on a strip heater and “locks” because a cement mix locks in the heating element, he came up with “Chromalox.” The company grew rapidly.
With about 100 employees, the company moved from downtown Pittsburgh to a new plant in the suburbs. As demand increased, Chromalox developed new materials and processing methods. The company took a giant step forward when electrical grade granular magnesium oxide (MgO) became available as insulation in tubular products.
When nuclear power became popular in the mid-fifties, Chromalox was the first to supply pressurizer heaters for nuclear power plants and nuclear submarines. Developing products for new applications like these expanded the standard industrial heater line.
During the Space Age, Chromalox was the major supplier to the manufacturers of support equipment. A Chromalox type WS strip heater achieved another "first" when it landed on the moon.
Chromalox expanded into global markets by acquiring two manufacturing facilities, Grimwood in England, and Etirex in France. In 1977, Chromalox Industrial Controls was born with the purchase of Rosemount Temperature Controls in LaVergne, TN. The controls product lines were diversified and expanded, positioning Chromalox as a leader in the industry.
Changing economic conditions in the Far East opened new markets for Chromalox products. Additional manufacturing and engineering facilities were obtained with the acquisitions of Bray and Eltron in England. Chromalox became the world's most technologically advanced electric heating equipment producer. This global expertise provided unchallenged capabilities to meet stringent third-party and local code approvals throughout the world. In 1993, Chromalox opened a regional sales office in Hong Kong to aggressively pursue Asian markets.
The decade began with the transfer of ownership from Emerson Electric Co. to J.P. Morgan Partners. Chromalox remained resilient in the industry by capitalizing on its design expertise and excellent reputation for high quality. With the purchase of Ogden Manufacturing Company in 2003, Chromalox strengthened its component heater manufacturing business and distribution network in the United States. To remain competitive during a strong economic downturn, the company expanded its manufacturing facility in Nuevo Laredo Mexico and consolidated operations in the U.S. by moving many production lines to to a new, larger facility in La Vergne, TN. Asian markets remained a strategic focus with the opening of a direct sales office in Shanghai, China.
Chromalox continues to expand its international presence with the opening of direct sales offices in India, Thailand and Germany. These offices have positioned the company to respond to the growing power generation industries in those regions of the world.
Today, Chromalox is owned by Irving Place Capital ("IPC"), a middle-market private equity firm. Through investment in capital resources, quality control, supply-chain management, and customer service, Chromalox is strategically positioned for future growth. Our continued focus is on engineering innovative heaters and controls of the highest quality for our customers, just as Edwin L. Wiegand did more than 90 years ago.