For more than half a century, the unwavering leadership of John E. Reed has fueled the growth of a continually successful business. From three employees to thousands, from one product to multiple companies, from Sterling Radiator to Mestek, the organization has always sought new opportunities.
Today, Mestek is a family of over 30 specialty manufacturers providing heating, ventilating, and air conditioning products, coil handling equipment, extruded aluminum products, and computer information systems and services. And while technology and markets have changed since 1946, the commitment to serve customer needs profitably is as important today as it was in a rented garage in Westfield.
A Successful Historical Partnership
SpacePak systems can be categorized as a high velocity system, or a min-duct system. The system was first invented in 1946 in a home in River Edge, New Jersey. The system was named Jet-Heet, since it’s basic design, incorporated some of the principles of the jet engine. This design used a furnace to deliver hot air through small insulated ducts to rooms throughout the house.
In 1960, fourteen years after the initial installation, and after 2000 similar installations, the Jet-Heet system went into quantity production. The product evolved into adding a companion air conditioning component to their system, called Jet-Cool. Over the next few years the company became very successful and caught the eye of a company called Space-Conditioning Inc. located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Space-Conditioning purchased the Jet-Heet company, and changed the name of the product line to SpacePak. The rest is history. SpacePak has been synonymous with the highest grade central air conditioning systems.
By the mid 1960s, Sterling began to enhance its growth opportunities through strategic mergers and acquisitions which have continued to the present day. One such opportunity came in 1986 when the company, then known as Reed National, merged with a smaller company, Mestek, Inc. Mestek had recently emerged from bankruptcy, the remnants of once-great Mesta Machine Company founded in West Homestead, Pennsylvania in 1898.
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In August 1955, Hurricane Diane dumped 15 inches of rain on Westfield. A railroad embankment northwest of the Sterling Radiator plant gave way, sending a 12-foot high wall of water crashing through our buildings and leaving behind four feet of mud. Dedicated employees, working 60 to 80 hours a week in two shifts, got the plant running again within ten days. The flood's impact lingered through 1956, but Mr. Reed's commitment to rebuilding his company resulted in an enlarged plant and greater efficiency.
In the spring of 1946, America was bristling with optimism. The war was over and the Allies had won on every front. Our men and women were welcomed home by a grateful country. Years of rationing had created unsatisfied consumer demand for every product imaginable. It was a time when people with new ideas, when entrepreneurs with new vision, initiated the largest economic expansion ever known.
As new homes and factories went up across the nation, new companies began to make products to keep them warm and comfortable. An idea conceived over a lobster dinner led to the founding of Sterling Radiator Company in February 1946. In July of that year, the first lengths of finned-tube radiation were manufactured by a work force of three in a rented garage in Westfield, Massachusetts. Spurred by demand for its high quality products, the company moved to larger facilities in 1947, again in 1950, and again in 1954.
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