Fuller Brush Company

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Fuller Brush Company

Founded in 1906 by Alfred C. Fuller (1885–1973), the Fuller Brush Company has for many years been one of the world's most successful direct marketing companies, employing a large sales force that in the twentieth century sold brushes, brooms, and other household products door to door. Just as the Avon Lady sold cosmetics by ringing doorbells, the "Fuller Brush Man" offered an array of more practical merchandise during an era when most women were at home during the daytime. Despite having doors slammed in his face by customers who resented being interrupted, the Fuller Brush Man gained a reputation for persistence and ingenuity in making his sales pitches. Comic strips and skits often satirized an aggressive Fuller Brush Man sticking his foot in a customer's door in a frantic attempt to make his plea. Comedian Red Skelton (1913–1997) starred in The Fuller Brush Man, a 1948 film about murder and mayhem in the world of door-to-door sales. A sequel, The Fuller Brush Girl, starring Lucille Ball (1911–1989), was released in 1950.

From its earliest days, the Fuller Brush Company adopted three basic principles to achieve its mission: "Make it work, make it last, and guarantee it no matter what." The company promotes the fact that its product line is American made. By 2001, its five-hundred-thousand-square-foot plant near Great Bend, Kansas, was manufacturing more than two thousand items, including household-cleaning aids, industrial cleaners, polishes and wax products, mops, floor brushes, brooms, sponges, wire hangers, lotions and fragrances, hair-care aids, silk-screened graphics, aerosols, and chemicals. The company, now part of CPAC, Inc., consists of nine independent divisions, including Stanley Home Products.

Sensitive to changing lifestyles that have all but eliminated the door-to-door salesman from American life, the Fuller Brush Company sells its products through factory outlets and mail order and has established an online shopping catalog with nearly five hundred items available. Still, the company encourages one-on-one customer contact by offering distributorships to citizens or permanent residents who live in the continental United States.

—Edward Moran

For More Information

"Alfred Fuller." The Canadians.http://www.histori.ca/historica/eng_site/resources/the_cdns/alf.html (accessed January 2, 2002).

Fuller, Alfred Carl, as told to Hartzall Spence. A Foot in the Door: The Life Appraisal of the Original Fuller Brush Man. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.

Fuller Brush Company.http://www.fullerbrush.com (accessed January 2, 2002).

Fuller Brush Man (video). Burbank, CA: Columbia TriStar Home Video, 1991.