Benefiting the Community

    One way that Phillips helped increase the standard of living in the area was through jobs created after assuming management of the National Pressure Cooker Company, later named National Presto.

    The Company had a prior reputation for quality products “In 1939, with its experience in manufacturing pressure canners and to more adequately meet the needs of the consumer, the company introduced a saucepan type of pressure cooker with the trade name of “Presto”.  Presto became synonymous with pressure cooking, which represented to the American housewife a method of cooking in one-third the time, preserving the important vitamin and mineral content of foods, and saving both food flavor and color.

    So great was the consumer’s acceptance of the Presto cooker, in 1941 facilities at Presto were dramatically increased.  By the end of that year, the Presto cooker ranked among the largest producers of housewares dollar volume in leading stores throughout the country.” (1)

  With the United States entry into WWII, Presto employed hundreds of area people as “the company converted all of its production facilities into war work, manufacturing artillery fuses, aerial bombs and rocket fuses.”(1) Many women joined the work force, just as they did across the country, as men were called into war. This helped stimulate the economic situation of the area. The management and employees worked hard in their “mutual desire to defeat the enemies of world peace and freedom.” (2)

    “The firm was the first to manufacture rocket fuses on a mass production scale.  The company was also one of the first in the state of Wisconsin to receive the Army-Navy “E” Award, receiving five such awards during its wartime operation.  Throughout the period of World War II, the company continued to manufacture canners for extremely important victory garden and canning programs.  Materials for these canners were provided by the War Production Board and the canners were made of steel since aluminum was not available.” (1)

  “As its recognition of fine work done by employees who brought them the 4th “E” Award, the company set up an expanded Social Security program.” (3) This program included: life, health, accident, occupational, hospital, and surgical insurance along with a pension plan.

     After the war, Presto resumed production of civilian products along with creating Martin Motors; an outboard motor company. “The first MARTIN Outboard Motor was introduced to the public in May of 1946. This motor was so far advanced in performance and appearance, that it met with instant public acceptance. To our best knowledge, in its first year, more MARTIN Outboard Motors were produced and sold, than any other brand of outboard motor of 5 horsepower and over, in the industry.” (4)

    After WWII the plant in Eau Claire maintained a ready-state to produce ammunition for the U. S. Military. In 1955 National Presto employed 2,000 defense workers and again “at the height of U. S. involvement in Southeast Asia, employment at the defense plant in Eau Claire reached 3,000.” (5) The “facility was closed in the early 90’s when the government dismantled much of it’s military defense complex.” (6)

    Today the company employs individuals around the world as it operates three “business segments-Housewares/Small appliances, Defense, and Absorbent Products.” (7)

 Eau Claire Area Research Center
“Cooker Company to be Given E Award Tonight”
“Recognition of Outstanding Achievement - Company Pushes War Production”
L. E. Phillips - sales meeting, 1947
Funding Universe.Com
Maryjo Cohen - President of National Presto Industries, Inc. 
National Presto Industries, Inc.Bibliography.html

L. E. Phillips

President of National Presto

Pressure cooker

Found at: The Chippewa Valley Museum

Army Navy “E” award

Presented to National Presto for war efforts

Martin Outboard Motors

Presto Iron

As Presto expanded, it provided jobs in Menomonie, Wisconsin, at the Lakeside Aluminum Plant and also at plants in Wallaceburg, Ontario Canada, Jackson Mississippi, and Alamogordo New Mexico.