Grayson Controls was located in Long Beach, California and was one of the finest and most respected manufacturers of automatic devices for controlling and regulating temperature. The principal products manufactured were used in cooking, water heating and home heating appliances. Grayson Controls had employeed over 1,800 people and was the third largest employer in Long Beach.
Incorporated before the Great Depression, Grayson Controls weathered the economic downturn and was one of the fastest growing manufacturing companies in
He sent samples to plumbers for testing. He discovered that there was demand for this product. With a $1,000 loan, he incorporated his new business under the name of Grayson Heat Control, Inc on May 18, 1928 (He changed the name in 1931 to Grayson Heat Control, Ltd and started issuing capital stock).
In order to facilitate manufacturing of his thermostats on a small scale, and since he was limited in his present one car garage, Mr. Grayson moved to
The demand for his thermostat was tremendous and expansion in some form was absolutely imperative. Rather than resort to remodeling his two-car garage, he decided to look for a suitable site on which to further develop his business venture. Finally, Mr. Grayson purchased the property on the northeast corner to Imperial and
Only two months later, Mr. Grayson realized he needed another expansion. He wanted to have move space where to do experiments of other thermostatic appliances. So on April 1, 1929, he had the building enlarged, doubling the space he had thought two months previous would be sufficient.
Having turned his inventive abilities into a new field, developing water heater burners, Mr. Grayson decided to organize a second company for the specific manufacture of these devices. Accordingly, on July 3, 1929, the state of California authorized the formation of the Grayson Appliance Company, Ltd and started issuing capital stock. The new company immediately purchased the southwest corner of Imperial Highway and State Street, and constructed there a duplicate building of the one that a few months previosly had been constructed on the northeast corner. Here he manufactured several models of water heater burners.
In 1931, John Grayson invented the automatic cooking clock mounted on a gas range. It automatically controls the heat and time for cooking with an oven. It became one of the best selling products for Grayson Heat Control Ltd.
Domestic Manufacturing Company was the dominant competitor in the 1930's. In 1935, Grayson Heat Control published an internal comparative report telling of the accomplishments in its short six year history. A list of customers was very impressive. In fact, Charles Grayson, John's younger brother and General Manager of Grayson Heat Control, Ltd, before introducing John at a company meeting talked about how far Grayson Controls had expanded in seven short years.
The Unitrol trade mark was patented on November 22, 1937 with patent number 361,576.
Rheem Manufacturing Company, one of the leading manufacturers of water heaters, wanted Grayson Controls to be its primary supplier of thermostats in 1938.
The foundry was built in 1939 when it was decided that it would be more economical to fabricate the castings on site rather than by an outside supplier. This required the company to purchase more property and the building of additonal buildings.
Congress in 1940 started a peace time draft in 1940. John A. Robertshaw sent out a memo outlining how employees called to active duty would be compensated.
In 1940, Grayson Heat Control made a contract with the Army to build controls for the B17 Flying Fortress. The list of parts were made for several aircraft companies.
In April 1942, the operation of Grayson Heat Control Ltd had a net worth of $2,000,000 and employed over 400 people
In 1947, Robertshaw Thermostat Company decided to merge it's thermostatic controls companies within one organization. As a result, Robertshaw Thermostat Company became Robertshaw-Fulton Company and Grayson Heat Control, Ltd became the Grayson Controls Division
After being in the same location for 35 years, space was becoming a problem. Grayson Heat Control Ltd tried to acquire adjacent property from the city of
From the 1950's the dominant competitor was Honeywell. Tom Arden saw a Wall Street article about Honeywell building a plant in the Los Angeles area.
The engineering facilities (laboratory) was added to the new plant in 1960.
Additional warehouse space was added to the Long Beach plant in 1970 (see photos).
In 1986, Reynolds Metals sold all of its shares of Robertshaw Controls to Siebe PLC of Windsor, England. Within five years, Siebe PLC dismantled Robertshaw Controls as it had done with other large companies it had purchased. Grayson Controls was then referred to as the Long Beach plant of Invensys Controls of Carol Stream, Illinois, a division of Invensys (a result of a merger between Siebe PLC and British Tire and Rubber in 1999).
In October, 2007 Rheem Manufacturing decided to discontinue buying thermostats from Invensys. This was devasting to Grayson Controls because Rheem Manufacturing was its major customer. As a result, Invensys made the decision to close the Long Beach plant and move the remaining operation to Mexicali, Mexico. This was completed on March 31, 2008.