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A history of Bissell Inc.

Nov 19, 2014

Credit Internet Archive Book Images / Flickr

Sometimes it’s a persistent annoyance that leads to a great solution. In this case the annoyance was cleaning up sawdust. It led to the creation of one of the most enduring ‘Made in Michigan’ brand names: Bissell. If you’ve ever shampooed or vacuumed your carpet with a Bissell machine, you can thank sawdust back in 1876. Mark Bissell is CEO of the Grand Rapids based company that bears his name.

Mark Bissell’s great-great grandparents, Melville and Anna Bissell, originally owned a crockery shop. When they would unpack merchandise, dust would get into the air and Bissell says in those days, there were only corn brooms, feather dusters, or carpet beaters for cleaning. So Melville Bissell invented the carpet sweeper.

Mark Bissell says his great-great grandfather’s invention became wildly popular. In fact, one of their first customers was Queen Victoria of England. Soon after, Melville and Anna Bissell left the crockery business and opened a factory in Grand Rapids to produce carpet sweepers. After 138 years, the company is still going strong.