THIS year, 2001, marks a century in business for Grote Industries and 70 years in the transportation industry. In 1901, William D Grote bought two chemical companies that primarily produced home laundry products. In 1922, Grote acquired Midwest Oxygen. The company entered transportation in 1926 with the purchase of National Colortype in Bellevue, Kentucky.
National Colortype produced taillights, spotlights, and directional signs for automobiles. The company was so successful that Grote sold his other interests to concentrate on transportation products. Many of the products from National Colortype were plastic. In 1934, the company developed hydraulically operated injection-molding machines and became the first producer to manufacture molded plastics automatically. Earlier, National Colortype developed and patented a plastic reflector in 1929 that was 25% more effective than other reflectors. This product, which sold for 10 cents each, is credited for sustaining Grote during the depression. Grote operations remained at the National Colortype location until 1960. Today the company operates from headquarters in Madison, Indiana, as well as two plants in Canada and one in Mexico.
Other Grote developments include:
- The Turtleback all nonmetallic clearance/marker lamp in 1964;
- The Torsion Mount repairable long-life lamp in 1977;
- The Ultra-Blue-Seal modular wiring system;
- Double-Seal plugs and pigtails in 1990;
- SuperNova LED truck lighting in 1990;
- LED lamps with replaceable lamps in 1999; and
- High-intensity discharge lighting for trucks in 2000.
The Grote family continues in charge of the company. The fourth generation now occupies senior management positions.