Our Stories
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    The Year it all Began (1928)

    Frank and Martin Callahan along with Ray Owen founded what is now known as Health-Mor, Inc. in 1928. Their original company name was Sanitation Systems, Inc. and was located in Chicago, IL. Sanitation Systems, Inc. was just a small direct sales distributorship that was trying to turn around a business that was failing miserably. The business turned into a success story with healthy doses of hard work and sales know-how. As the distributorship became profitable, the ambitious principals sought to develop their own product. In 1929, they approached the manufacturer P.A. Geier, to build a vacuum cleaner under the Health-Mor name. Their first product was the “Health-Mor Sanitation System” upright vacuum. In May 1930, Sanitation Systems, Inc. changed its name to Health-Mor Sanitation Systems, Inc. and became the largest direct-selling organization of any electric appliance in the city of Chicago.

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    invention of the filterqueen (late 1930's)

    By 1930, Health-Mor Sanitation Systems had become the largest direct selling organization in Chicago, Illinois. However, Health-Mor had a more ambitious dream. They met with a man named Ed Yonkers, who was working on a patent for a new kind of home cleaning system. While on a business trip, Ed was introduced to a new kind of porous paper. On his train ride home, that very paper sparked his great idea for filtration. He visualized an inverted cone with incoming air hitting it on an tangential angle. This air movement knocked dirt off the filter cone and sent it to the vacuum’s pan below. Ed’s cyclonic action and use of filter cones were just the breakthrough in filtration that Health-Mor was looking for. This was the birth of the FilterQueen®, which remains one of the most powerful dust separators on the market today. 60 years later, Ed reflected on how he came up with the idea for the FilterQueen®, the first home cleaning system in the world to use "cyclonic cleaning action," a landmark invention that others have since tried to copy, but without success.

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    Need for Speed (1951)

    Starting in 1951, FilterQueen® played a role in the pre-race cleanup of the brick straightway for the Indianapolis 500. In 1958, Distributor E.L. Baker Jr. gained national attention with his team when they took to the Indianapolis Speedway track as part of the annual clean-up event at the Speedway. Baker and his team organized an attack on dust, dirt and tiny pebbles between the bricks of the famous raceway. The FilterQueen® handled the debris to help ensure the safety of the 33 drivers who were to drive over 100 miles per hour in the 500 mile race. In 1953, they removed 1800 pounds of dirt! Through the years, FilterQueen® continued to play a role in the pre-race cleanup. It was an honor to be a part of the festivities and some Distributors even used it as a contest for their sales representatives to help with the pre-race preparation. Famous race car driver Wilbur Shaw thought so highly of the FilterQueen® role in protecting the lives of the 500 track drivers that he wrote a letter stating that the use of the FilterQueen® Sanitation System was one of the most important safety measures ever introduced to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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    Father and Sons (1952)

    Paul Kolenda (pictured age 59) was the head of what is probably the nation’s largest father-and-son business partnership of all time. Kolenda got his sales start as a way to supplement his income in the depression era of the early 1930’s. He needed the money at that time to support his wife and his growing family – he already had six sons! Paul said it took him three weeks to make his first sale, but he kept plugging away. After World War II, six of his sons returned from the armed services and the family decided to pool their money and open a FilterQueen® Distributorship. He is pictured here inspecting his ten sons and partners in front of their FilterQueen® office in Detroit. His sons ranged in age from 17 to 35. The Kolenda family’s partnership paid no salaries or commissions, but divided the year’s profits equally. Nine sons and one daughter-in-law lived with Paul in his family home in Clio, Michigan. The tenth son and his wife lived only two blocks away. Now that’s a family affair!

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    Accessories (1960)

    FilterQueen® has offered a variety of accessory attachments, many of which seem bizarre or just plain weird in today’s time. What exactly is this contraption above, you ask? No, it’s not a helicopter, this is the “Filter-Dri” Clothes Dryer Attachment Set, circa 1960. If you have never seen one before, you’re definitely not alone! These are very hard to come by. So how did it work? First you would hang your damp laundry on the spokes. Then warm, filtered air from the main exhaust funneled up the center tube, and was then released through tiny slits in the “spokes”, which would then dry the clothes. The Filter-Dri set even included its own system of “grip tite” clothespins to use! It is pictured here atop a FilterQueen® Model 31, the very Unit it was designed to be used with.

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    Quality (1967)

    FilterQueen® has taken pride in their product quality for over 87 years. This photo from 1967 shows Bill Barry and Millie, former employees, working at the Paint Station and inspecting dirt canisters, making sure they look perfect before being sold. The employees are wiring canisters for the pre-painting process. Next, they would completely submerge the canisters in paint. Today, the canisters are no longer painted. The 1960’s FilterQueen® Model 33 was the last known Unit to be painted in-house. The canister painting was then outsourced and shipped to the FilterQueen® warehouse... one less step to worry about! Today, canisters are made out of durable ABS plastic – a high impact material that is resistant to scratches and is very long lasting.

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    Dust to Dust (1994)

    Annie Kaduck, right, watches as Natalie Rivera assembles a top-of-the-line Majestic Triple Crown FilterQueen® vacuum cleaner for her at Health-Mor’s plant in Cleveland, Ohio. All Kaduck had to do was trade in her half-century-old FilterQueen®. Health-Mor cooked up the swap to begin a collection of older FilterQueen® machines. They invited Kaduck (pictured age 75) over to see her new machine being built. Kaduck said her late husband, Walter, paid about $100 when he bought the FilterQueen® for her in 1945 after he returned from the war. The old machine was still in good shape and used regularly. Besides the price and a more powerful motor, the big difference is that the new machine had wheels. In the end, Kaduck asked if she could still keep her 1945 model because she loved it so much, and of course we let her!

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    Performance (2013)

    Recently, we set up a head-to-head challenge between a 1940’s FilterQueen® model (straight out of Grandma’s attic) and one of today’s most popular vacuum brands; old school technology vs. new school plastic. We put them to our filtration test to see which cleaner would capture the most dirt, dust and debris. They each took ten passes over our dirt covered carpet area. The 1940’s FilterQueen® performed far better than the modern vacuum model and was named the “Challenge Champ”. This proves that Grandma was right... they just don’t make things like they used to! How many 70-year-old appliances do you know that can outperform their modern day competitors? Today, the FilterQueen® is built with the same amazing filtration technology that was developed in the 1940’s. Today’s FilterQueen® combines the durability and performance of Grandma’s era with the best filtration on the market today. Check out the FilterQueen Champ Video.