History of Marvel Refrigeration: 125 Years of Handcrafted Excellence

When you choose Marvel Premium Refrigeration, you’re choosing 125 years of handcrafted quality and leading innovation in the luxury refrigeration business. You’re choosing American products and most importantly, you’re choosing the best undercounter refrigeration technology available on the market.

As the longest-standing refrigeration company in North America, we are proud to have pioneered numerous advancements that helped shape refrigeration technology into what it is today.

Our decorated past began in 1892 in Greenville, Michigan, a beautiful, tightly-knit community where our ISO certified manufacturing facility is still based today. Here, we created the first foamed-in-place refrigerator, and the first refrigeration of its kind with sleek stainless steel interiors and glass doors. We were also first to adopt a midnight black interior for wine cellars and beverage centers, now a very popular and practical aesthetic.

Our legacy of quality craftsmanship continues to stand strong throughout the centuries, driving the performance the industry has come to expect from Marvel. The extensive Marvel product offering is world class, a dynamic selection of sophisticated, high-performance wine cellars, beverage centers, indoor and outdoor refrigerators, ice machines and beer dispensers.

1892

Ranney Refrigerator is founded in Greenville, Michigan and is soon known for being one of the best-fitted manufacturing plants in the country. It launches with finely made ice boxes to preserve perishables in homes, delivered by horse and buggy.

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1893

Ranney files a patent for its exclusive ice rack.

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1895

Ranney files a patent for its stop for door lids, the only two-position lid holder.

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1899

Ranney grows to be one of the largest manufacturing plants of its kind in Michigan, giving employment to a staff of 300 and producing 40,000 refrigerators. It becomes a growing institution and increases its plant size by 50% for 1900.

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1903

The Detroit Free Press publishes, “As to quality and service the Ranney refrigerator has no rival.”

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Tragedy strikes when a boiler explodes at the Ranney plant.

 

1915

Ranney’s Greenville factory is destroyed in a fire and the company resiliently works to rebuild and resume operations for its customers and its employees.

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1917

Ranney files a patent for its water cooler design.

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1938

Ranney transitions to mechanical refrigeration, and Greenville maintains prominence in the refrigeration industry throughout the 20th Century as the “Refrigerator Capital of the World”.

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1941

Ranney signs a contract with The War Department to manufacture air tank shields for World War II.

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1945

Ranney is awarded another quota by the War Production Board.

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1950

The Pentagon awards Ranney with a $1.145 million contract to furnish the army with refrigerators for military installations in this country and abroad.

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1954

Ranney busily works on orders for the defense department. (News article in Lansing State Journal, Lansing, Michigan).

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1965

Ranney develops the first foamed-in-place refrigerator to improve operating efficiency and energy conservation.

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1970

Fedders Corporation purchases Ranney Refrigerator and begins manufacturing refrigeration under the Norge label.

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1978

Gordon Stauffer, then president of Fedders Refrigeration, purchases the company and renames it Northland Refrigeration, and begins staking its position in the marketplace with robust commercial-style refrigeration for home use.

 

1970s

Northland begins manufacturing premium commercial-grade refrigeration for home use, and quickly becomes known for its high storage capacity.

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1989

Northland purchases Marvel Industries, a manufacturer of refrigerators for biomedical and laboratory applications, hotels, motels, offices and residential homes.

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1990

Marvel supplies refrigerators for hospitals during Operation Desert Storm.

1991

Northland introduces the industry’s first stainless steel interior and glass door refrigerators for residential use.

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1992

Marvel introduces its first premium undercounter wine storage and beverage center.

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2001

Marvel releases the industry-first black interior for wine cellars and beverage center.

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2002

Northland unveils 72-inch wide refrigerator/freezer combination, by far the largest capacity system in the world for home use.slider-12

2003

Aga Foodservice Group acquires Northland Kitchen Appliance. Northland joins the company’s prestigious group of consumer high-end range cooking and refrigeration equipment companies that include Aga Ranges, Aga Rayburn, Marvel, Domain, Fired Earth, Grange, La Cornue, Heartland and Rangemaster.

2008

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm announces Northland-Marvel will invest $10.2 million in a new 175,000 square-foot manufacturing and innovation center in Greenville. The expansion is expected to create 337 new Michigan jobs, including 157 directly by the company.

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2012

Marvel introduces the Marvel Professional line in response to the growing trend toward pro-style kitchens.

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2013

Marvel is named the #1 rated wine cellar by a leading consumer magazine.

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Marvel introduces the first glass door refrigerator with blue LED interior lighting.

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2014

Marvel unveils the industry’s leading line of ENERGY STAR® certified undercounter products.

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2015

Marvel wins multiple design awards for its beer dispenser, beverage center and gallery wine cellar.

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2016

Marvel releases the first outdoor model that combines a refrigerator, freezer and ice maker in one compact 24” footprint.

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The Middleby Corporation acquires AGA Marvel.

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Marvel releases its next generation of full size built-in refrigeration.

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2017

Marvel upgrades its professional collection with bolder aesthetics and features to add more storage versatility and organization. New features include tri-color lighting, midnight black interiors, smooth ball-bearing glides, split convertible shelving, and complementary organizational accessories (in select models).

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then-now

FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

ice-boxRanney handcrafted three distinct refrigeration lines with over one hundred styles: the “Lapland” of solid oak, the “Monitor” of solid ash, and the “Mascot” of other hard woods.

Constructed with scientific principles of preservation and beautifully finished natural wood, Ranney earns a reputation for being the best refrigerators the world over, and works of art.

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FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

Ranney also operated its own saw mills and stocked over four million feet of lumber throughout the year. It also ran a train of 40 cars, three railroad lines and also had direct connection with the lake ports.

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THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

Grover Cleveland is inaugurated a second time and is the only president to serve two nonconsecutive terms.

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THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

Gold is discovered in the Yukon’s Klondike.

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THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

This year also marks the First World Series for baseball. And, the Wright brothers make the first controlled, sustained flight in heavier-than-air aircraft.

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FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

1906 newspaper advertisement from the Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan)

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1914 – 1918: WORLD WAR I

THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

The first long distance telephone service is demonstrated between New York and San Francisco.

Image Title: Offical Opening of the transcontinental Line of the Bell System, Jan. 25, 1915 Item/Page/Plate: 4.644 Notes: Courtesy of the New York Telephone Company, New York. Source: "The Pageant of America" Collection / v.4 - The March of commerce / [Published photographs] Source Description: Approx. 8,000 photographs Location: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs Digital ID: 92613 Record ID: 50852

1920 – 1933: PROHIBITION

FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

1925 Ranney advertisements from the Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan)

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1929 – 1939: GREAT DEPRESSION

THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

The Star-Spangled Banner is adopted as the national anthem.star_spangled_banner_h8vbkc

1939 – 1945: WORLD WAR II

THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

The first full-color television is demonstrated.

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1950 – 1953: KOREA WAR

1950 – 1975: VIETNAM WAR

FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

Ranney replaces a family’s refrigerator after a fire (News article in the Battle Creek Enquirer).

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THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech before a crowd of 200,000 during the civil rights march on Washington, DC.

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FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

Ranney celebrates three generations of family operation.

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THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr., become the first men to land on the Moon.

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THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

The first personal computer for home use enters the market.

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THIS YEAR IN HISTORY

Saturday Night Live airs this skit of a Norge refrigerator repairman (Dan Aykroyd) where he shows more than his talents to nerdy teenagers played by Gilda Radner and Bill Murray.

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FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

Northland product spec sheets from the 1970s.
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1990 – 1991: GULF WAR

FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

The Marvel Outdoor Series makes the news.
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2001 – Present: WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

A 72″ Marvel Professional Refrigerator Freezer appeared on Season 4 of the Vanilla Ice Project, as a special order from Vanilla Ice himself.

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FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

Marvel supplies refrigerators for military mess halls overseas.

2003 – 2011: IRAQ WAR

FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

News feature from Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida)

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FROM THE TIME CAPSULE

 Marvel is requested back for another season of Vanilla Ice Project. Marvel Outdoor Refrigerated Drawers make an appearance in the show’s outdoor kitchen.

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Cited Sources:

(1893, May). Michigan Patents. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1895, June 12). Michigan Patents. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1900, March 10). Gossip of the State. Source?. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1903, January 23). Terrible Boiler Explosion. Owosso Times. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1903, January). Two Men Killed in Explosion. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1903, July). Greenville Concern That Can Meet All Competition. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1915, March 1). Greenville Fire Destroys Factory. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1941, September). Michigan Firms Get War Orders. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1945, June). Refrigerators Get ‘Go’ Sign. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1945, June 24). Tell Production Quotas for Domestic Machines. Battle Creek Enquirer. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1950, June 8). Greenville Firm Gets U.S. Contract. Lansing State Journal. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1953, February 23). Refrigerator Rebuilt Free for Smith Family. Battle Creek Enquirer. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1954, October). Greenville Looks to a Steady Year. Lansing State Journal. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1963, May). Other Firms Hire. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1970, January). Fedders Plans to Acquire Michigan Firm. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1970, January). Ranney Refrigerator to Under Norge Label. Holland Evening Sentinel. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(1989, January). Northland buys Marvel Industries. Palladium Item. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.

(2003, October). Beverage fridge Marvel fits in almost any room. The News Journal. Retrieved from www.newspapers.com.