The Early Years
Bettcher Industries, Inc. was originally founded in 1944 by Louis A. Bettcher under the name of Bettcher Dieweld Company. Mr. Bettcher started his Company with a capital investment of $800 in a small machine shop in the old meat district of Cleveland, Ohio.
Local meat companies such as Swift and Company found it nearly impossible during the war to purchase new equipment. These plants called on Bettcher Dieweld to keep their old machinery running by repairing what was impossible to replace. This exposure to the machinery needs of meat producers stimulated Mr. Bettcher’s fertile imagination, resulting in the invention of numerous machines and systems. One of the first was the Bettcher Carcass Splitter, the first efficient band saw splitter ever manufactured. Today, some 50 years later, many of the original Bettcher Carcass Splitters are still in use and the concept is a standard splitting approach worldwide.
- 1954: Lou Bettcher invents the first hand held, powered circular knife originally named the ‘Dumbutcher’. The name Dumbutcher was dropped for obvious reasons; however, today's Model 520 Whizard Bone Trimmer is very similar to the original invention.
- 1955: Bettcher Industries was incorporated.
- 1958: Bettcher Industries moves from Cleveland to downtown Vermilion, Ohio.
- 1955-1960: Defatting Whizard Trimmers were developed to increase production efficiency and labor savings in meat plants throughout the world.
- 1960: the Whizard Trimmer won Gold Medal Awards in Brussels and Paris for the best American invention of that year.
- 1965: Founded Miller Gear Company, a custom gear manufacturer. Sold to LaGrange Screw products in 1974.
- 1963-1966: Bettcher began work on the Power Cleaver, a powered slicer capable of slicingbone-in pork chops at a rate of 120 pieces per minute. It was designed to reduce labor, eliminate sawdust wastes, and increase the shelf life of bone-in pork chops. The slicing principle was readily adapted to fresh or semi-frozen steak cutting. With the acquisition and development of the first meat forming presses, Models 70 and 75, the "Bettcher system" led the Industry into the technology of freezing and tempering of meat products. Having developed both the machinery and the technology, Bettcher was off and running in the portion control machinery business. In the United States, roughly 70 percent of all steaks cut for restaurants were cut using the Bettcher portion control system. There were over 1500 systems in use worldwide at the height of meat industries’ mechanical control heyday.
- 1972: Bettcher Industries, Inc. moved from their facilities in Vermilion to a newly constructed plant in rural Birmingham, Ohio.
- Early 1970's: Bettcher adapted the Power Cleaver principle to the retail supermarket trade by designing the Model 39 Slicer. The advantages of the Model 39 Slicer over conventional backroom hand cutting and band sawing were many. Shelf life of fresh meat was increased by three to seven days through its clean slicing. Cleaver slicing versus traditional cutting methods increased yield three to six percent and production efficiency increased by over 100 percent. The Bettcher Slicer, used in a typical supermarket, would pay back its purchase cost in two to six months. There were thousands sold worldwide.
- Mid 1970’s: Bettcher Industries expanded the “Portion Line” to include a TR-2 Mechanical Tenderizer, a line of cutlet formers, CF-10, CF-16 and CF-24, a multi-blade slicer, Slice-N-Tact, and a Cryogenic Immersion Freezer.
- Late 1970's: Based on an original concept invented and licensed by Robert Byrnes of Packers Engineering, Bettcher Industries developed the highly cut resistant Whizard Glove, using a new fiber called Kevlar® together with stainless steel and other materials. This safety glove was more comfortable, had greater dexterity, was warmer, and cost considerably less than the chain mail products that had been in use for years. Led by Bill Bettcher, this new product line met with great success. The Whizard Glove, originally designed to protect meat cutters' hands from cuts and abrasions, opened up a whole new marketing arena in general industry related to protective wear. Sheet metal manufacturers, glass companies, cable and wire companies, and automotive assembly plants are examples of the general industry customers who are protecting their employees from cuts and lacerations with this product.
- 1979: Laurence Bettcher was appointed by the Board of Directors as President. Louis Bettcher continued as Chairman and CEO.
- 1982: Bettcher Industries acquires Stein Associates in Sandusky, Ohio. This company is the world leading manufacturer and marketer of high volume continuous flow batter-breading equipment, conveyorized deep fryers, counter-flow ovens, filtration equipment and conveyor systems.
- 1986: A new product line was developed around a newly designed table-top slicer (the Ultimax) for the Food Service Equipment Industry. Bettcher now had a full line of equipment to offer the hotel/restaurant/institutional industry.
- 1987: Stein sales doubled. The Stein subsidiary is sold to Frigoscandia of Helsinki or Sweden, a leading international manufacturer of commercial freezing equipment.
- 1988: A Batter-Breader machine was developed specifically for fast food restaurants to apply their coating to onion rings, chicken, cutlets, etc. before deep frying. SBB (Sonic Batter- Breader) machines save food costs, labor, increase yields, and provide a more uniform, consistent coating of their product. One of these machines is now specified into virtually every Sonic Restaurant. Other customers are Hardrock Café, Max & Erma’s, Dairy Queen, Fat Burger, A & W Restaurants and many others.
1990: Due to primarily market saturation, production of portion control equipment was discontinued. We continue to support portion customers with replacement parts and service to this day.
1994: Bettcher Industries designed a Power Knife specifically for portion slicing Gyro’s Cones in Gyro’s retail sandwich shops. Greatly increased yields and productivity are just two of the reasons this tool is fast becoming a standard in that unique industry.
1995: Introduction of the AirShirz pneumatic scissors. This revolutionary new tool was designed to replace conventional manual scissors in the poultry industry but also has many general industry applications.
AirShirz won the Industrial Engineers Excellence in Productivity Improvement the same year for the favorable impact this tool has on the human factor in a high production atmosphere.
Bettcher introduces the EdgeKing sharpening machine for edge management of any type of scissor at this time.
1996: Whizard Protective Wear division was sold to the world’s largest producer of gloves, Wells Lamont, who represented the best opportunity to take the product line to the next level in successful world-wide marketing.
The ABB or Automatic Batter Breader was designed and introduced. The Bettcher Coating Line expanded to include the models ABB, SBB-1, SBB-2, and the Optimax. These innovative machines are a spin off of the single purpose SBB machine designed for onion rings. By refining the design, the second-generation machines are now capable of coating essentially every batter/breaded item in today’s restaurants.
1997: Bettcher Industries, Inc. became ISO-9001 certified (Passed certification test on the first audit!)
1998: Bettcher received the EDI (Enterprise Developments, Inc.) Innovation Award for the earlier introduction of the AirShirz . By introducing this tool, Bettcher brought a portion of the poultry processing industry into the 20th century.
We continue our commitment to human factor engineering with the introduction of the Modular Whizard Trimmer.
1999: Bettcher purchased Gainesville Scales, Inc. a manufacturer of high speed poultry weighing, sorting, loading and bagging devices. Name is changed to Gainco, Inc . and moved from Lula, GA to a new 20,000 square foot plant in Gainesville, GA. Recently Gainco has developed and introduced a Belt Sizer, High Speed Turkey Overhead Weighing and Sorting System, and Whirlybird Portion Spacer since the acquisition.
Continued ergonomics emphasis resulted in an all new Whizard Trimmer line , the Series II. This new generation family of trimmers provides lighter, faster, simpler, safer and more efficient features.
- Bettcher achieves ISO 9001:2008 Certified.
- Bettcher doubles the size of its manufacturing space and expands their research department to meet the needs of the future.
- Bettcher acquires the assets of Reese Manufacturing breader sifting tables.
- Bettcher introduces a redesigned line of breader/sifter tables under the DuraSift brand name.
- 2007 Don Esch is promoted to Chief Operating Officer.
From an $800 investment in 1944 to today’s recognition as a world leader in food machines, food research, and cutting edge technology in ergonomics BETTCHER INDUSTRIES CONTINUES ON THE MOVE TO NEW SUCCESSES!