The Victoreen Instrument Company is a former manufacturer of x-ray dosimeter equipment in Cleveland, Ohio. It was considered to be “the first nuclear company.”4


History

The Victoreen Instrument Company was founded in 1928 by John Austin Victoreen who had founded the Victoreen Radio Company.11 A few years after Victoreen began making superheterodyne radios and parts, the government appointed the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) as owner of the important patents of the superheterodyne principle, leaving Victoreen without a product. Victoreen, in conjunction with Dr. Otto Glasser of the Cleveland Clinic, went into the field of X-ray technology.

The Victoreen Instrument Company was born at 2825 Chester Ave. The new company produced an x-ray dosimeter to eliminate the possibility of x-ray burns and control dose delivery to patients.1 2 11 The first commercial model was the Condenser-R meter, which measured the intensity and total dosage of X-ray exposure. The company went on to develop other radiation measurement equipment, eventually dominating the market.

The company moved to a large purpose-built factory at 5806 Hough Avenue.15

Prior World War II, Victoreen was contracted by the Manhattan Project to manufacture portable radiation devices as part of Operation Peppermint leading up to D-Day.3 The portable units, called the Minometer, were initially released in 1940 and was essentially a simplified version of their Condenser-R meter.5 Nearly fifty devices were produced for the war effort, which were later reused to measure radioactivity during A-bomb testing in New Mexico. After the war concluded, Victoreen provided 95% of the instrumentation for nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.

In April 1965, Victoreen announced that it was moving its headquarters and plant from Hough Avenue to a larger site at 10101 Woodland Avenue, the site of former Clark Controller Company.15 Its Government Instruments Division, which had been at 5200 Euclid Avenue in leased space, was also moved to Woodland Avenue.

Mergers

To remain competitive and grow in emerging markets, Victoreen acquired numerous companies. In 1951, Victoreen acquired Pioneer Electronics Corporation of Salem, Massachusetts followed by the announcement in June 1955 for the acquisition of Olympic Radio into the newly formed Nuclear Electronics Corporation.8

On April 31, 1958, Victoreen purchased outdoor electric sign maker Kolux Corporation of Kokomo, Indiana. Kolux was then operated as a subsidiary out of two factories in Kokomo.9

On July 29, 1959, Victoreen agreed to merge with Tenney Engineering of Union, New Jersey, a manufacturer of environmental test chambers, to form the Victoreen-Tenney Corporation.7

Victoreen by the close of the decade had two plants in Cleveland and subsidiaries in Chicago, Kokomo, Indiana and Alhambra, California producing radiation monitoring and control equipment, electronic devices and neon display signs with sales of $5.5 million in 1958.7

In May 1960, Victoreen acquired Elctronic Products Company of Mount Vernon, New York, a designer and manufacturer of electronic instrumentation for atomic submarines.13

To expand into the business equipment field, Victoreen offered to purchase all of Bohn Business Machine’s stock on March 27, 1964.10 Bohn, of New York City, assembled and distributed office copying equipment. Victoreen then acquired 65,000 common shares of the North & Judd Manufacturing Company of New Britain, Connecticut, a maker of light hardware and marine hardware products, in August 1966.12

In August 1968, Victoreen’s merger with Leece-Neville was approved, to be called Victoreen Leece-Neville, or VLN.14 Leece-Neville, of Cleveland, produced electronics for the military, transportation and marine industries.

VLN was merged into the Sheller-Globe Corporation in 1974. In 1987, the Leece-Neville division was sold to Prestolite Electric. The Victoreen division was purchased for an undisclosed amount by an investment group led by George D. O’Neill in October 1990.16 The firm was formerly a subsidiary of the Talbex Group PLC, a British holding company that went bankrupt.

In 1994, Victoreen vacated its Woodland Avenue space, transferring the complex to Kordi, Inc.. It was then transferred to the Degeronimo family in 2000 and was foreclosed in April 2002.

The former factory was purchased by the Cathedral of Praise who began renovations to the first floor of the building in June 2008. It had temporary electrical service installed in April 2009, but later in the year, Harper Industries was granted a demolition contract to raze the Victoreen complex. The buildings caught fire during the demolition process in September 2014 and the project was abandoned.

Victoreen eventually became part of Fluke Biomedical in Washington in 2004.6

 

Sources