Quick Company Facts:
The 1930s were an eventful decade for Reg and his wife, Jean. They were married, founded a new company, moved the company's operations twice, and became parents for the first time with the birth of a son, John.
World War II brought major set-backs to many businesses in the United States, and Beckett was no exception. With fuel in tight supply and components unavailable, burner production came to a halt. However, Reg found a way to keep the company's doors open by installing insulation in area homes. Fuel rationing created a need to conserve energy, and the company survived by shifting its emphasis to this task. The war's end once again made burner production possible and brought a surge of interest in home construction and improvements. Oil burners were ideal for use with the new automatic heating systems that provided constant comfort levels without the need to shovel coal. The company was back in the oil burner business!
Reg Beckett's commitment to quality engineering and the growth of the market led to significant sales increases. As the demand for burners increased, so did the need for additional production space. A new plant was built on land Reg had purchased during the depression, which had been used by employees for victory gardens during the war. The office portion of the building, still in use today, was designed to look like a home to make the plant fit into its rural residential surroundings. Construction meant total "hands on" involvement by Reg. He did the surveying and was the general contractor, tending to most every detail, including the planting of a vibrant array of flowers, shrubs and trees. The gardens around the plant are still enjoyed by company employees today.
Once he realized the need for a new product, Reg Beckett undertook the project vigorously. The result, the Model S (for "small") was a lighter, less costly burner but it maintained the quality and performance of its predecessor. The new burner was introduced in 1961 and began reviving the company's lagging sales. The Beckett family celebrated two weddings in 1961. Their daughter Bev was married in June. In August, John, a recent graduate of MIT, married Wendy Hunt.
With the introduction of the Model A burner in the late ‘60s, then the Model AF (flame retention) in the early ‘70s, sales increased dramatically. The company expanded its manufacturing facilities in 1973. Just as the expansion was complete, however, war broke out in the Middle East. Immediately following were a series of dramatic worldwide dislocations in oil production and distribution. The Arab oil embargo of October, 1973 shook the entire oil industry. Beckett experienced declining sales for the first time since the early 1960's. Though set back temporarily by the impact of the oil embargo, Beckett was soon able to expand sales and penetrate new markets. Remarkably, some of its best years came in the mid-‘70s as homeowners aggressively replaced their old burners with new highly efficient units.
With its new-found leadership role in the oil industry, the company embarked on a number of new efforts to assist with education and the promotion of oil heat. The company produced an industry-standard training manual entitled "The Professional Serviceman's Guide to Oil Heat" and a number of statement stuffers aimed at helping oil dealers communicate the benefits of oil to their customers.
The effects of a second OPEC oil shock in the late 1970's hit the U.S. economy in the early 1980's, and, because of a run up in fuel prices, cut the industry's oil burner sales in half. Though Beckett was in a much better position to handle the crisis than many other companies, every effort had to be made to cut costs, short of laying off workers. The latter was especially significant to the local community. Unemployment in North Ridgeville during the period soared past 30%. It was also time to seek divine wisdom. In early 1980, twenty-five Beckett employees gathered one evening after work to talk and pray together. John later recalled, "We affirmed our confidence that God was bigger than the Middle East crisis, and that we should take each day one at a time, with our trust in Him."
Beckett personnel began to address influential trade gatherings in an attempt to rally support for the industry's future. Their theme was upbeat: the dislocations in oil price and supply would settle down, and this was a time to actively market, not sit back in desperation. New equipment provided much needed fuel savings to customers and far-sighted marketers began to promote its sale. By the end of the 1980's, the company was again strong, with growing sales and market share.
Rather than being forgotten mantras in a planning folder, these values are thoroughly communicated through the organization on a regular basis. Consistent with John's commitment to respect the individual, the company offers a variety of educational, health and retirement benefits. The company's management and employees worked together to set up a fitness center in the building. Short courses on a variety of subjects such as health, nutrition and personal finance are offered during lunch breaks in the company's well-equipped training center. These innovative programs helped Beckett win Cleveland's "Employer of the Year" award from the Employers Resource Council.
At the onset of the new millennium Beckett is repositioning itself to provide the highest technology and innovation to the oil heat industry. The company continues to focus on the needs of the customer and fully meeting their requirements. Beckett has made significant improvements to the AFG burner, which has been its staple for the last two decades. These upgrades include private–branded PSC motors, controls, and pumps. Beckett is now manufacturing its own electronic oil igniter to imp
rove burner performance and reliability. All of these changes make the AFG better than ever. Beckett also continues to develop new burner technology. The NX burner is a new high-tech addition to the company’s product line.
In 2001, Beckett created the Advanced Technology Center. The Center’s director, Kurt Oswald, brings tremendous knowledge and industry experience to this endeavor. This division is charged with continuing the focus on the new technology, specifically in the area of low emissions. It will also lead the company in continuous improvement efforts. Beckett continues to make the transition to the next generation. Although John is still very active in the company as Chairman, in 2003 Kevin assumed the role of President and CEO.
As we look to the new millennium, Beckett has the leadership, technology, and commitment to be a leader in the oilheat industry. Beckett’s owners continue to trust in God’s goodness and provision, believing the future to be bright for Beckett and the industry it has been proud to serve.