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State Journal archive

1906: Founded as the French Battery Co. in Madison.

1910: First sale of flashlight batteries.

1914: First sale of flashlights, under trade name "French Flasher.''

1916: Original company-owned plant built on Winnebago Street.

1924: Factory No. 2 opens in Madison to help supply a battery boom.

1926: Sales exceed $7 million, a record that stands for 15 years.

1928: Invention of the plug-in radio began to deflate the radio battery boom and Factory No. 2 was discontinued.

1933: Patents the first portable radio with high-fidelity reception.

1934: Ray-O-Vac adopted as company name.

1937: Patents the first wearable vacuum tube hearing aid.

1941-1945 World War II: Ray-O-Vac establishes seven new plants, boosts employment by 1,000 percent to 15,000, despite critical manpower shortage. Wins Army-Navy awards for supplying the military with nearly half a billion batteries.

1945: Sales reach $52.6 million.

1956: Ray-O-Vac stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

1957: Ray-O-Vac merges with The Electric Storage Battery Co. based in Philadelphia, becoming a division of ESB but retaining its own identity, its own officers and continuing to operate from its own corporate headquarters in Madison.

1972: Introduces the first heavy-duty all zinc chloride battery with double the life of general purpose batteries.

1974: INCO, Ltd., formerly known as International Nickel Company, based in Toronta, Canada, acquires ownership of ESB and Ray-O-Vac.

1981: Diamond anniversary year. Number of employees worldwide totals 7,250. Changes name to Rayovac.

1982: Rayovac Corp. comes under the ownership of three suburban New York City investors as they buy two-thirds of Rayovac from INCO, Ltd. Thomas Pyle, Robert Goergen and Lionel Sterling, forming ROV Industries, purchase the North American, European and Far Eastern operations of Rayovac from INCO Ldt. Pyle is named president of Rayovac.

1983: Acquires Timex plant button cell operations, U.K.

1986: Thomas Pyle takes full control of Rayovac Corp. by buying out his partners, investors Lionel Sterling and Robert Goergen.

1988: Acquires Raystone Corp., a maker of metal battery shells.

1989: Acquires Crompton Vidor, U.K., maker of consumer batteries and flashlights.

1990: Acquires Tekna branded product lines.

1995: Basketball superstar Michael Jordan joins the Rayovac team as the new spokesman for Renewal Reusable alkaline batteries and chargers.

1996: -- Sold to Thomas H. Lee of Boston. Annual sales for 1996 projected at $665 million.

1996: Sixty-seven salaried Rayovac employees are eliminated.

1997: Young & Rubicam of Chicago hired as Rayovac's new ad agency. Developed flashier, more uniform packaging to go along with its $28 million advertising budget.

1997: Plans are announced to expand the Wonewoc factory, adding 40 jobs.

1997: Top Rayovac officials purchase $3 million in a new stock offering, buying out Thomas and Judith Pyle's remaining shares in the company.

1997: First public stock in 40 years is offered on the New York Stock Exchange.

1998: Ends the production of the heavy-duty batteries in the Madison plant, eliminating 34 jobs.

1998: Announces plans to close the lithium battery plant in Appleton, eliminating 150 jobs.

1999: Restructuring eliminates 32 jobs in Madison, Fennimore and Portage.

1999: Completes a $155 million deal buying the consumer battery business of ROV Limited, a Miami-based company that was spun off from Rayovac in 1982. ROV Limited is the dominant battery seller in Latin America, and had sales of $97 million in 1998.

2001: During the year, Rayovac eliminates 570 jobs from its worldwide work force of 3,300. This includes 240 jobs lost when the Wonewoc factory is closed and 40 jobs in Fennimore due to restructuring.

2001: Annual sales for 2001 are $675.5 million.

2001: Since 1996, the number of stores carrying the Rayovac brand has tripled from 36,000 to more than 100,000.

2002: Announces plans to buy the consumer-battery business of German rival Varta AG for about $256.8 million. Adding Varta's $390 million in sales in 2001 will give Rayovac more than $1 billion in revenue and make it Europe's second-largest battery maker.

2002: Signs an agreement with an Asian joint venture that will produce the latest version of rechargeable batteries for the Madison company. Yuasa-Delta Technology of Taiwan will make the nickel-metal-hydride batteries at a plant in China.

2002: Rayovac Corp. is the target of a class action lawsuit that claims the Madison company misled investors about its sales growth in order to boost the price of its stock.

2002: Rayovac announces plans to cut 630 jobs worldwide by closing three plants and building a new $20 million facility in Illinois as part of a restructuring plan. The move elimiates 290 jobs at a Madison packaging center and a Middleton distribution center. Another 40 white-collar workers are cut from the headquarters and technology center in Madison.

2003: Rayovac announces plans to buy Remington Products, a maker of battery-powered electric shavers, for $165 million in cash and will assume $157 million in Remington debt.

2004: Rayovac announces it will move its corporate headquarters, along with ten executives, from Madison to Atlanta. The Remington headquarters in Bridgeport, Conn., will close and merge into the Madison offices, which will be the company's North American headquarters. The move will result in 90 additional jobs in the Madison location. Additional production jobs will move from Bridgeport to the Portage plant.

2004: Rayovac announces it will acquire 85 percent of the Ningbo Baowang battery company in Ninghai, China, for $24 million.

2005: Rayovac announces it will buy United Industries Corp., a St. Louis company that makes pet care, lawn care and pest extermination products, in a $1.2 billion deal.

2005: The Rayovac Corp. announces it will change its name to Spectrum Brands while the various products, including Rayovac batteries, will continue to be sold under their brand names.

2005: Spectrum Brands completes the $552.5 million purchase of Tetra Holding, a fish and aquatics supply company in Melle, Germany.

2005: Spectrum Brands announces it will add at least 65 employees to its Madison-area operations as it moves to integrate recently acquired United Industries.

2005: Spectrum Brands says it is the first U.S. company to come out with an insect repellent using Picaridin, one of two active ingredients the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently added to its recommendations for effective protection against mosquitoes.

2005: Spectrum Brands said it will consolidate its consumer home and garden unit in St. Louis into the company's North American headquarters in Madison.

2005: Spectrum Brands adds to its pet care product line with the purchase of Jungle Labs for $29 million. Jungle Labs of San Antonio makes aquarium and fish care products.

2005: Spectrum Brands is accused of misleading shareholders in lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Georgia by five law firms. The lawsuits claim Spectrum Brands officials "stuffed (marketing) channels with excess battery supply" during the first half of 2005 to make it look as though sales were at record levels, even though the company was operating "far below expectations," causing its stock to drop more than 30 percent since July.

2006: Rayovac celebrates its 100th anniversary in business.

2006: Spectrum Brands names David Lumley as the new president of North American operations.

2006: Brett Favre signs a two-year deal to be the personality behind Rayovac batteries for its "Power Challenge" campaign.

2006: Spectrum Brands puts the building which serves as the "North American headquarters" for Rayovac batteries, at 601 Rayovac Drive, up for sale.

2006: Two Harbinger Capital Partners hedge funds take a 9.5 percent stake worth nearly $53 million in Spectrum Brands Inc.

2006: Rayovac releases a new brand of rechargeable batteries called Hybrids, that are intended to stay charged longer.

2007: Spectrum Brands cuts 500 of its nearly 10,000 employees, including 50 of the company's 600 Madison area positions and 100 of the 275 jobs at the Fennimore alkaline battery plant.

2007: Spectrum stock price falls to record low as plans to sell the home and garden division fizzle, and the company refinances its debt at higher interest rates.

2007: Spectrum Brands CEO Dave Jones is replaced by Kent Hussey.

2007: Shareholders lawsuit against Spectrum Brands is dismissed.

2007: Spectrum Brands will move pesticide and lawn fertilizer division from Madison, eliminating 70 jobs.

2008: Spectrum brings 50 jobs back to the Rayovac plant in Fennimore.

2008: Company cancels sale of its pet-supply division, announced two months prior.

2008: Spectrum stock now traded on the NYSE Arca platform after trading below $1.05 a share.

2008: Energizer Holdings Inc. wins injunction against Spectrum in battery patent suit.

2008: After two delisting notices, Spectrum Brands has its stock removed from the New York Stock Exchange.

2009: Spectrum Brands files for bankruptcy.

2009: Company cuts jobs and pay at its Rayovac and Remington headquarters in Madison.

2009: Spectrum emerges from bankruptcy, and reports a profitable fiscal year for the first time since 2005.

2010: Spectrum acquires George Foreman and Black & Decker brands.

2010: Company adds operations in DeForest, employing 10 to 15 workers.

2010: Six years after moving its headquarters to Atlanta, the company returns to Madison.

2010: Madison-based Spectrum Brands merges with Florida appliance company Russell Hobbs.

2011: Spectrum eliminates 29 Madison area jobs.

2012: Spectrum announces plans to move its world headquarters from Madison's West Side to a new building in Middleton.

2012: Stanley Black & Decker sells its hardware and home improvement business to Spectrum Brands.

2012: Spectrum buys majority interest in Shaser Bioscience, a skin care firm.

2014: Spectrum Brands Holdings stock hits record highs, rising to $76.73 a share.

2014: Spectrum buys a Pennsylvania door, lock company.

2014: Spectrum acquires two pet food brands in Europe from Procter & Gamble.

2015: Spectrum purchases a Florida pet treat company.

2015: Spectrum names Andreas Rouvé as new CEO.

2015: Spectrum buys Armored AutoGroup, maker of Armor All protectant and STP motor oil.

2016: Spectrum Brands announces $5 million Middleton expansion.

2017: Spectrum sued by Energizer over packaging design, reaches settlement weeks later.

2017: Spectrum agrees to purchase PetMatrix.

2017: Middleton's Spectrum to sell its products throughout China.

2017: Spectrum ordered to pay $1.9 million fine for failure to report defect in Black & Decker SpaceMaker coffee carafes.

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