Earl

A Legacy of Innovation

“Innovation That Works” isn’t just a tagline for Madison. It’s a way of life, a driving force behind our approach to business … and it all started in 1929 with our founder, Earl Atkinson. One of Earl’s best-known inventions, the Madison Strap, remains one of the electrical industry’s most relied-upon and favorite products, as well as an integral part of Madison’s product portfolio.

The Story

You’ve probably noticed that many of our products were invented by contractors who came across a problem while working and found a creative way to fix it. Well, there’s another Madison practice that started with the strap!

Legend has it that Earl was in need of a way to secure an old work box in a wall where there was no stud support. Being the inventive soul that he was, Earl looked around the room and saw an old Coca Cola can. It was from that can that Earl cut out the very first Madison Strap. This event happened at 102 Madison Ave., hence both the name of the company and the strap’s official part number.

An old story on Earl describes his – and the company’s – innovation best:

“One of his most successful [ideas] was the development of the Madison Hold It Switch Box Support. It was his answer to the problem of placing a new electrical outlet into an existing finished wall without tearing out a good potion of wall material to reach the studs.

The piece was made on Madison Street on Cleveland’s west side – thus the name Madison Equipment Company. Other products followed including the adjustable bar hangar, nail straps, ceiling outlet support and wire pulling apparatus. These were ‘firsts’ in the electrical industry.

People like Earl Atkinson were responding to the needs of the marketplace – only then it wasn’t easy. Electrical distributors were not as sophisticated as they are now so it was tougher to get a new product or idea into the marketplace. In those days it was more of a one-man show. The inventor created the product and had to sell it too.

We’re proud to say that Earl’s inventive spirit is very much alive today, and we look forward to continuing his legacy in the years ahead. If you have a story about the strap (or whatever nickname – Mad Bar, Battleship, F Bar – you’ve given it!), I’d love to hear it. Email me at rfisher@meproducts.net!

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