Louis Ruthenburg Evansville’s Leading Industrialist In The Mid-1900s
Yesteryear by Pat Sides
This special event, sponsored by the Evansville Chamber of Commerce in November 1941, celebrated the production of Servel’s two millionth gas refrigerator in Evansville. The man standing in front of the refrigerator shaking hands (at right) is Louis Ruthenburg, who was regarded as Evansville’s leading industrialist in the mid-1900s.
Soon after joining Servel in 1934, he initiated changes that transformed the company into the city’s largest, as well as one that dominated the gas refrigerator industry nationally. Within months, Ruthenburg announced that employment was fifty percent higher than in the previous year, as Electrolux refrigerators rolled steadily off the assembly lines. Markets also expanded into foreign countries, which numbered thirty-six by 1935.
Evansville’s economy was rocked by the departure of several major manufacturers in the 1950s. Ruthenburg delayed his retirement for a few years in an unsuccessful attempt to revive Servel, but refrigerators ceased production in 1956.