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World affairs : the editors #109, media watch #109.
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1 videocassette : VHS ; 13 mm
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Electrohome Limited was an international manufacturer of home electronics, appliances, furniture, and high-tech commercial projection and display systems, and an investor in television broadcasting, based in Kitchener, Ontario.
In April 1933, Arthur B. Pollock formed Dominion Electrohome Industries Limited with the purchase of the combined assets of two of his companies, Pollock-Welker Limited and the Grimes Radio Corporation Limited. His son Carl became general manager. The company, commonly called Electrohome, originally had three manufacturing divisions: radio and communications, appliances and metal products, and furniture and woodworking. It became a publicly traded company in 1946.
Over the next several decades, Electrohome produced a growing diversity of consumer and commercial products, including furniture (using the brand name Deilcraft); fans, humidifiers, and other appliances; electric motors; stereo hi-fi consoles; television receivers; and organs. Carl A. Pollock, who had replaced his father as president in 1951, implemented organizational change to manage the increasingly complex company. The operating divisions became Deilcraft, Electrohome Products, Motors and Metal Products, and Defence and Industrial Contracts; staff divisions were Design, Finance and Accounting, Industrial and Public Relations, and Purchasing and Customs. In the mid-1960s, the management structure was further decentralized, and operating divisions now included Private Trade Label, Product Styling, Motor and Metal Products, Consumer Products Merchandising, Consumer Products Engineering and Manufacturing, Deilcraft, and Distributor Products.
In 1967, the company’s name was officially changed to Electrohome Limited. In 1969, Carl’s son John A. Pollock was made vice-president, electronic products and was elected to the board of directors, and in 1972 became president. When Carl retired in 1974, Donald S. Sykes took over as chairman. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw more management changes: James Holmes joined the company as chairman and CEO from 1976 to 1979, and Stewart Maclellan as president and CEO in from 1979 to 1982, at which time John A. Pollock assumed the role of chairman and CEO. During that time, Electrohome abandoned television manufacturing and the electronics division focused on commercial and industrial products, including specialized video and data display monitors and large-screen projection television. Electrohome also entered new fields, including reverse osmosis/ultrafiltration systems and video-game monitors. It was also briefly involved with ventures in satellite television and videotex hardware. By the end of the 1980s, the company withdrew completely from the manufacturing of consumer products to focus on the two remaining business segments: broadcasting and commercial data and video projection and display systems.
Electrohome’s interest in broadcasting began in 1970 with the formation of Electrohome Communications Inc. to acquire Central Ontario Television Limited (later CAP Communications), the Kitchener broadcasting company formed by Carl A. Pollock, Kitchener-Waterloo Broadcasting Limited, and Famous Players Canadian Corporation Limited in 1953. The company, which operated CKCO-TV, CKKW-AM and CFCA-FM, was expanded in 1988 with the purchase of Sunwapta Broadcasting in Edmonton. In 1997, Electrohome sold these broadcasting operations as well as its interest in CTV to Baton Broadcasting Inc. for cash and shares in Baton.
In 1987 when Electrohome introduced the ECP 1000 single lens colour data and graphics video projector, the first of its kind in the world, the company soon became a leader in the field. The Display Systems business focused on monochrome and colour monitors and high-performance LCD monitors; it became a leading supplier for medical imaging and financial trading rooms. The Projection Systems business produced large screen colour video projection systems for data and graphics with developments in LCD and DLP (digital light processing) technologies. The 1999 acquisition of two smaller high-tech companies allowed Electrohome to also enter the fields of advanced visualization/virtual reality and digitized audio systems.
In 1998, Electrohome was divided into two entities, Electrohome Limited and Electrohome Broadcasting Inc. (EBI). The display and projection businesses were sold in 1997 and 1999 respectively and in 2004 the last manufacturing plant and head office building on Wellington Street in Kitchener was sold. For a time, Electrohome remained a holding company, and then in 2007, it sold its trademarks and in 2008 the corporation’s shares were cancelled and delisted. Electrohome maintains an office in the Wellington Street building and is in the process of dissolving.
Electrohome once employed 4400 people in almost 1.6 million square feet of factories and service areas in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, as well as sales offices throughout Canada and the US and in Europe. It also established manufacturing facilities in Tennessee and Malaysia. Over the years, Electrohome formed, acquired, and partnered with many other companies, including: Raytheon Corporation (Waltham, MA), Campbell Electric (Brantford, ON), Hawkesville Lumber Limited (Hawkesville, ON), Fry and Blackhall Limited (furniture manufacturer in Wingham, ON), Flexsteel Industries (Canada) Limited (upholstered furniture manufacturer in Stratford, ON), Lightning Circuits and Planar Circuits (Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON), Brinkley Motor Products Company (Brinkley, AR), Gensat Communications Corporation (Toronto, ON), Display Technologies (Carthage, MO), Robotel Electronique (Laval, QC) and Fakespace Systems (Kitchener), which eventually merged with Mechdyne Corporation (Marshalltown, IA).