SIC 3635

This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing vacuum cleaners for household use. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing vacuum cleaners for industrial use are classified in SIC 3589: Service Industry Machinery, Not Elsewhere Classified. Establishments primarily engaged in installation of central vacuum cleaner systems are classified in SIC 1796: Installation or Erection of Building Equipment, Not Elsewhere Classified.

NAICS Code(s)

335212 (Household Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturing)

Vacuums remove 80 percent of soil from carpet, making them essential for carpet care. Vacuums are more effective if they have a rotating brush, beater bar, and powerful suction capabilities. Even with these features, they must be adjusted to carpet height, bags must be changed when full, and belts and brushes must be maintained.

The four primary categories of household vacuums are upright, canister, stick, and handheld models. The upright vacuum cleaner, which was the first vacuum to gain widespread acceptance in the United States, descended from the manual carpet sweeper. Uprights come in two styles: those with a vertically mounted soft collector bag and those with an exterior plastic shell that contains the bag. Because they have a rotating brush, uprights are usually better at cleaning carpets. Their limited suction makes them less efficient at cleaning upholstery and bare surfaces, however. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the value of shipments for household vacuum cleaners (including parts and attachments) was $3.02 billion in 2000, up from 1992 totals of $1.81 billion.

Stick vacuums are similar to upright cleaners, but they usually lack a rotating brush and are less adept at cleaning than either canister or uprights. Stick vacuums, though, are usually lightweight, easy to store, and inexpensive. About 1.6 million stick vacuums were sold by U.S. producers in 1993, up from 1.5 million in 1992.

The two types of handheld vacuums are electric and rechargeable. About 3.3 million electric and nearly 2.2 million rechargeable units were shipped in 1993, according to Appliance. These figures mark a slippage in shipments from 1992, when 3.6 million electric and 2.7 million rechargeable units were sold.

Following solid industry growth during the 1960s and 1970s, the household vacuum cleaner industry experienced steady expansion during the 1980s. Prodded by new product introductions and positive demographic trends, vacuum cleaner sales rocketed from $775 million in 1982 to $1.87 billion in 1990, reflecting an average annual growth rate of more than 10 percent. Stick and handheld vacuums were the fastest-growing product segments during this period. An economic recession, however, sent industry revenues tumbling below $1.7 billion in the early 1990s. The industry recovered entering the mid-1990s, which buoyed earnings and promised to revive struggling manufacturers. Indeed, vacuum industry shipments grew significantly in the late 1990s, increasing from $2.3 billion in 1997 to $3.02 billion in 2000. Over the same time period, employment grew from 10,447 to 11,549. Production workers in 2000 numbered 8,587; they earned an average hourly wage of $15.68.

In the late 1990s the largest vacuum manufacturer was the subsidiary Hoover Co., of Ohio, generating sales of an estimated $1.5 billion and employing over 10,000 workers. According to the December 1998 issue of Appliance magazine, Hoover expanded its El Paso, Texas plant in the late 1990s with a $47 million capital investment, aiding production of its Wind Tunnel upright vacuum and opening a major distribution center—doubling the size of the plant and creating 220 new jobs. Other industry leaders included Eureka Co., of Illinois, and Kirby Co., of Ohio. Ohio also had the greatest number of establishments in the United States.

In the late 1990s, vacuum makers were trying to boost sales with new high-tech products. In order to make filtration systems more desirable, vacuum manufacturers wanted consumers to be alerted to the damage caused by fine dusts. Eureka, for example, introduced a line of environmentally friendly vacuums that were designed to filter out 99 percent of the dust and dirt that entered the vacuum. Philips Home Products Corp. brought out Blue Magic, a high-tech vacuum with a turbo-compressor that operated by fuzzy logic. Blue Magic also had a silencing mechanism and could be operated with a remote control. Another technological highlight included new polymers, which allowed vacuum manufacturers to reduce unit costs and weight and improve quality.

Trying to gauge consumer interest in the concept of automatic vacuums at the 1999 International Housewares Show, Eureka unveiled a prototype robotic vacuum cleaner, according to Appliance, January 1999. With cordless operation, sonar, and an onboard microprocessor to detect and avoid obstacles, the robot vac could operate for one hour before needing to be recharged.

Further Reading

Darnay, Arsen J., ed. Manufacturing USA. 5th ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 1996.

"Eureka Unveils Robot Vacuum." Appliance, January 1999. Available from .

Gornick, Tina. "Emphasis on Housewares." Appliance, January 1998. Available from .

Hepworth Air Filtration. "Effective Filtration for Domestic and Industrial Cleaners." Available from .

"Hoover Wins Star Award." Appliance, December 1998. Available from .

"1999: The New Optimism." Appliance, Available from .

Remich, Norman C., Jr. "Clean Comfort." Appliance Manufacturer, June 1993.

Somheil, Timothy. "1994: The Key Word Is Improvement." Appliance, January 1994.

United States Census Bureau. "Statistics for Industries and Industry Groups: 2000." Annual Survey of Manufacturers. February 2002. Available from .

United States Census Bureau. Value of Shipments for Product Classes: 1992 to 1996. Available from .

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