History of Eggers

History of Eggers

In the small town of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, one thing has not changed: Eggers Industries.

Eggers Industries is an anomaly in today’s world of corporations and big business buy-outs. Eggers has been privately held since its inception in 1884 and there are no signs of that changing. The primary focus isn’t on the short term, but rather on the long term: sustainability, reinvestment, and providing for the customer’s needs through a set of core principles. It is that set of core principles that has guided Eggers Industries over the last 134 years. These values have led to innovative products, industry changing discoveries, and a company that remains true to its reputation for quality products.

Eggers’ history is one that covers three centuries and numerous economic and business conditions, including both World Wars, the Great Depression, and the credit crisis of the 1980’s. Through it all, Eggers has managed to not only get by, but, in many cases, come out a stronger company.

1848—14 year-old Fredrick Eggers emigrates with his family from Germany to Two Rivers.

1884—Fredrick Eggers, along with two of his sons, establishes Eggers Industries. The company starts by producing farm baskets, but turns to veneer seating when the basket market falls through nine months into the company’s life.

1893—The “Panic of 1893,” begins a four year period of business freefall and the lumber industry is hit hard. Eggers is able to escape intact, a result of its commitment to running a primarily cash-based business without significant debt.

1901—The lumber industry returns to a growth industry. Eggers Industries is so successful it must expand, doubling its workforce.

1914-1917—World War I breaks out. Eggers Industries receives a large government contract to produce fuselage parts for military aircraft.

1920-1929—Eggers is a top veneer manufacturer and business is booming. This results in continued expansion, new technology and a larger workforce.

1929-1941—The Great Depression. Virtually all families and industries are affected, and Eggers is no exception. By the time the Depression is over, Eggers is a shell of its former self.

1941-1944—World War II breaks out, effectively ending the Depression. Eggers sees a modest boost from a military contract, but continues to struggle.

1944—Struggling for survival, President Russell Eggers, grandson of founder Fredrick Eggers, meets George Lester, whose experience in the wood products industry and winning personality make him an ideal fit. Lester is offered the position of General Manager. Company stock and part ownership are paid as compensation.

1944-1954—George Lester quickly builds up a customer base and doubles the company’s gross profits and triples net profit. Profits are funneled into modernization and increased product offerings. Eggers regains its reputation as the leader for high-end, high-quality products.

1954—Russell Eggers leaves the company and George Lester is named company President.

1960-1964—By this point George Lester has earned a controlling portion in stock ownership. Eggers continues to expand its facilities and product offerings. George Lester’s son James joins the company, first in engineering, then in sales.

1965—Eggers acquires Hardwood Products Corporation, a struggling high-quality door manufacturer in Neenah, Wisconsin. With this acquisition, Eggers enters the world of door manufacturing.

1971—George Lester, after successfully turning around two companies, retires. His son James Lester is named his successor. As President, James Lester develops a comprehensive employee profit sharing program that receives national praise.

1984-Eggers celebrates 100 years, earning high profile jobs such as the large conference table in the Cabinet Room of the White House.

1994—The core beliefs of Eggers Industries are compiled and published as “The Eggers Way,” ensuring future generations would understand the values and attitudes that made Eggers Industries so successful for so long. Jay Streu, James Lester’s son-in-law, joins the company as Vice President of Sales and Marketing

1999—Company profits are reinvested into a significant expansion at the Neenah facility. The expansion focuses on sustainability and work flow. James Lester announces his retirement and names Jay Streu his successor.

2000—Jay Streu takes over as company President. The Neenah expansion earns Eggers the “2000 Innovator of the Year” award from the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association.

2004—Eggers builds a new state-of-the-art facility to replace the East Twin River facility in Two Rivers. The new facility utilizes the newest technology available.

2009—Eggers Industries celebrates 125 years of quality wood products

Even against the backdrop of uncertainty our country is facing, Eggers has a lot to celebrate. The company continues to focus on what has made it sustainable for the last 125 years: strong core values and principles. And yet, the focus at Eggers does not seem to be on the past, but on the future: a future built on the same vision that has brought Eggers so much success over the last 125 years. The history of Eggers Industries has been a remarkable one. Let the next chapter begin.


References:

University of Wisconsin Digital Collections

Lester Public Library - Two Rivers, Wisconsin


History of Eggers Gallery