In 1952, as my father was getting out of the Navy, he stopped in the commissary.
He noticed a full set of Revere Ware pots and pans for sale at a good price.
My father is a planner, so he bought the cookware and put it in his parents’ attic. When he got married twelve years later, he went and retrieved them.
My mother cooked with Revere Ware for 35 years and then gave the set to me. I still use those pots every day. They are now 70 years old and still worth a couple hundred dollars on Ebay.
The story of Revere Ware is absolutely fascinating.
It was a revolutionary and durable product made by a company with deep historical roots.
The story begins with Paul Revere, who as everyone knows, rode a horse around the countryside outside Boston to warn American patriots that the British were coming.
Revere dealt the British another blow when, at age 67, he used a foundry he owned to make sheet copper. Until that point, it was mostly imported from England.
Paul Revere died in 1818, but his son took over and the company survived mergers and other plot twists. In 1939, the company’s engineers came up with the clever idea of putting copper bottoms on steel pots and pans.
It was a huge innovation because copper conducted heat evenly, while steel was durable and easy to clean. Designers added another cool feature: heat resistant Bakelite handles.
Sales exploded after the launch and within ten years the company had to open two more factories to keep up with demand.
The growth story started to unravel in 1959 when the patent expired and competitors developed new technology called Teflon.
Revere Ware introduced new styles and utensils in a bid to stem revenue declines. They also cut costs by producing lower quality, thinner pots.
The next part of the story is sad and convoluted involves acquisitions and brand dilutions. Suffice it to say the last Revere Ware style pots and pans were produced in 2018.
The company’s big mistake was failing to establish a culture of continuous innovation.
New technology can generate enormous profits, but no product is Teflon proof.
Key Lessons from the Revere Ware story:
–Innovation is everything
–Innovation never ends
–Complacency can be fatal
–Revere Ware pots last forever
–Be frugal like my dad