Grayson Controls (1928 - 2008)

History of Robertshaw Controls Company 

Roberthaw Thermostat Company 

Grayson Controls was a division of Robertshaw Controls from 1936 to 1986.  In 1899, Frederick W. Robertshaw invented a thermostatic control device to control the flow of gas to the water heater in his home.  In 1907, he formed the The House Services Utility Manufacturing Company.

In 1914, the business had expanded to such a degree that it outgrew its plant in Pittsburgh.  He purchased a building in Youngwood, Pennsylvania and changed the name of the company to Robertshaw Manufacturing Company.  In 1922, the name was changed to the Robertshaw Thermostat Company.  He no longer manufactured plumbing supplies and other devices other than thermostats.

In 1928, the U.S. Foil Company acquired Robertshaw Thermostat.  At the same time, R. J. Reynolds, president of U.S. Foil changed  the company to Reynolds Metals Company.  It primary product was aluminum foil.  Also, in 1928, Reynolds Metals purchased Fulton Sylphon Company of Knoxville, Tenneessee.

In 1936, Robertshaw Thermostat purchased Grayson Heat Control, Ltd.  Also, Robertshaw Thermostat purchased American Thermostat Company of St. Louis.  And, they purchased Bridgeport Brass Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The company was renamed the Bridgeport Thermostat Company.

On September 24, 1947, Reynold Metals Company merged all these companies into one company to form the Robertshaw-Fulton Controls Company.

Robertshaw Controls Company

The Fulton Sylphon Company was incorporated on December 23, 1926.

The Fulton Sylphon Company merged with Robertshaw Thermostat Company on September 24, 1947 and changed its corporate title to Robertshaw-Fulton Company.

 Robertshaw-Fulton Company had subsidiary manufacturing operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, and West Germany.

In July, 1959 that Robertshaw-Fulton Company built a manufacturing plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil by the subsidiary, Robertshaw-Fulton Controls do Brasil S-A Industria E Comercio.

In 1961, Robertshaw-Fulton Controls Company formed a new subsidiary in Japan, Robertshaw Orient, Ltd.  L. P. Handy, from the Aeronautical and Instrument Division of Anaheim, California, was made President of the Japanese subsidiary.

Robertshaw-Fulton Company changed the corporate title to Robertshaw Controls Company on April 10, 1963.

Siebe (Invensys PLC)  acquired Robertshaw Controls for $465.9 mil through an $85 per share cash tender offer. Siebe outbid several unidentified bidders. The bids were made after the Robertshaw board, one-third controlled by Reynolds Metals, decided to put the company up for sale. Reynolds Metals held 41% of Robertshaw. Lazard Freres advised Siebe and acted as dealer manager for the offer. Goldman Sachs advised Robertshaw.


Federick Robertshaw - 1907 to ?

John A. Robertshaw - ? to 1957

He succeeded his father as president of Robertshaw Thermostat Company.

In 1963, the name of the company was shortened to Robertshaw Controls Company.  The Bridgeport Thermostat Division became the Milford DivisionRoberthsaw Thermostat Division became the New Stanton Division.

Thomas Arden - 1957 to 1972 (president and general manager of Grayson Controls - 1941 to 1957)

He played a key role in the development and growth of Robertshaw Controls.  He had been the sales manager for the American Thermostat Company.  Later, he became president of Grayson Heat Control, Ltd and eventually, in 1957, president of Robertshaw Controls Company in Richmond, Virginia.  The first of a long line of Grayson Controls Division general managers that were giving the opportunity to become president of Robertshaw Controls.

Ralph Thomas - 1972 - 1986 (general manager of Grayson Controls - 1967 to 1970)

In 1970, he became executive vice-president at Richmond, Virginia.  He succeed Thomas Arden as president of Robertshaw Controls in 1972.  

George Yeaman - 1986 - 1989 (general manager of Grayson Controls - 1982 - 1986)

Vice Presidents

George A. Robertshaw - ? to ?

Robertshaw Family

Frederick William Robertshaw (July 10, 1853 - August 24,1941) married to Ida Helen Oldshue (August 18, 1856 -  November 11, 1945)

They had eleven children:

Edward Robertshaw  

Helen Robertshaw

Martha Louise Robertshaw (b January 6, 1879 - )

Gertrude Robertshaw (b May 20, 1880 - )

Frederick Charles Robertshaw (b March 18,1883 - )

Mary Veronica Robertshaw (1b 885 - )

George Ansley Robertshaw (b July 15, 1887 - d June 5, 1975) - Vice President of Robertshaw Thermostat in July 1, 1938 and Chaiman of the Board of Directors in August, 1940

                  Paul Roberthaw (b 1917 - d 1975) worked in the Machine Shop at Grayson Heat Control Ltd, from the 1941 payroll.

Lincoln Oldshue Robertshaw (b September 5, 1890 -  d June, 1968)

John Alfred Robertshaw (b March 22, 1894 - d October, 1972) - President of Robertshaw Thermostat in July 1, 1938

Edward Joseph Robertshaw (b April 7,1896 - )

Clarence Wilfred Robertshaw (b Octobert 31, 1898 -  d March 31, 1963 )


Merger Announcement

The merger was proposed on November 13, 1946 to save the Grayson name.  Grayson was the "Cadillac" of the water heating business.    Rheem, a major customer, wanted to insure that Unitrol would be identified with the name Grayson rather than Robertshaw.  The demand for Grayson controls was high.  Some companies demanded  that water heaters be equipped with Grayson controls.  The merger  would retain the good will of the name Grayson.  The Grayson thermostats and controls have merit and uniform performance through the years have build up an enviable record. 

The Unitrol was the combination of a thermostat and automatic pilot first introduced in 1937. 

As of Jaunary 1, 1941, Reynolds Metals Company of Richmond, Virginia wholly owned these subsidaries:

          Fulton Sylphon Company  - Knoxville, Tennessee

          Bridgeport Thermostat Company - Bridgeport, Connecticut

          Robertshaw Thermostat Company - Youngwood, Pennsylvania

           Grayson Heat Control, LTD - Lynwood, California 

Robertshaw Thermostat Company was a company that build gas valves to control water temperature.  In 1947, a merger of related thermostat companies within Reynold Metals Company  formed the new company, Roberthaw-Fulton Controls Company Grayson Heat Control, Ltd was one of those companies to be renamed the Grayson Controls Division.  In 1963, the Robertshaw-Fulton Controls Company was renamed to Robertshaw Controls Company.  Later, the headquarters moved from Youngwood, Pennsylvania to Richmond, Virginia where the corporate offices of Reynolds Metals Company was located.