Glen Slough, Eddie Durwachter and Win Cook, Vita Craft’s founders, were playing golf in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1939. At the time they all sold cookware and were unhappy with the opportunity available to them through their current company and began to look for other opportunities. Soon they discovered they could have their own line of cookware which would be superior in product and design and they would offer a true opportunity in direct sales. They named the company Vita Craft.
In 1940 the three decided to move the business to Kansas City. This is a photo of the building being built at 4125 Pennsylvania in Kansas City, Missouri. The company flourished until 1943 when World War II threatened to put an end to the company. The company did close it’s doors for a brief period of time as the materials used to make the cookware were diverted to the war effort.
Fortunately, in 1945 the War Production Board granted Vita Craft a license to resume production of its product, and they were back in business.
In 1946 Vita Craft moved to its current location in Shawnee, Kansas. It was then a 10,000 square foot building. At that time Vita Craft hired Charles Cooner as their manufacturing engineer to purchase equipment, hire and train their employees. The history is that Charles would hire someone, tell them to go stand in front of one of the machines and just look at it until he had time to come tell them what they were supposed to do.
He instilled in every employee the importance of making a superior product. He posted his motto then, “Is this good enough to be a salesman’s sample?” and they are still posted today.
This was the era of the hope chest. It was very customary at the time for high school senior girls to purchase their cookware, china, crystal and flatware for the day they got married. Vita Craft with a lifetime guarantee was an investment in their future. College recruiting was at an all time high. Vita Craft was featured regularly in magazines like Bride, Seventeen and Glamour.
Vita Craft also has the distinction of being the cookware of over 22 Miss America’s and several Miss Universes. Miss America was invited every year in September to present the Grand Club Sales Awards to the college men as they returned to their respective universities.
In 1976 Vita Craft began distributing product to Japan. Vita Craft did not find their Japan distributor, he found Vita Craft. He was looking for the finest cookware in the world when he came to Vita Craft. Story has it that a family friend of the Rockefeller’s, directed him to Vita Craft, since Vita Craft was the only cookware their chef would use.
Rigorous documentation of the manufacturing materials, the cooking techniques, the saving in time, money, vitamins and minerals in the method of cooking took place. Since that time the tag line “Manufacturers of the world’s finest cookware” follow the Vita Craft logo.
Induction cooking is relatively new concept in the United States however it has been popular in Europe & Asia for some time. Vita Craft was at the forefront of this technology and has been manufacturing induction cookware for over 20 years. Because of our quality and popularity in Japan, our cookware is recommended by several top induction stove manufacturers there, and many include a piece of Vita Craft cookware with their unit. The induction stove manufacturers have also tested many brands of cookware and determined that our induction cookware functions the best with induction stoves.
The building has continued to grow and now covers two square blocks in downtown Shawnee, Kansas. We continually design and expand our product line both for Vita Craft and for our private brand customers.
The marketing materials have changed over the years to focus more on health & nutrition, and the savings in time, money, vitamins and minerals and the flavor in foods properly prepared in Vita Craft. And many couples continue to choose Vita Craft at the time they decide to marry.
The success of Vita Craft has always been in two primary areas. It’s quality product with a lifetime guarantee, and its quality people. Unlike many manufacturing facilities where product goes through a production line and only inspected at the final stages, Vita Craft is inspected every step of the way. Every employee has the opportunity to reject a Vita Craft product at their stage of production. This applies from raw material to final assembly and even distribution. This wisdom has been a part of Vita Craft from its inception.
The company has changed ownership three times over the years and in 2002, Vita Craft was purchased by Mr. Mamoru Imura, owner of the marketing company in Japan who built Vita Craft into a household name there. His goal is to make sure that Vita Craft remains a “Made-in-the-USA” product. We are very proud that during an era when manufacturing jobs are moving overseas at a rapid rate, Vita Craft cookware remains hand crafted in the U.S.A.