Spotted in San Francisco’s Financial District:
Vornado Realty Trust, Montgomery Street.
Spotted in my storage closet:
Vornado whole-room air circulator, acquired during an unfortunate mildew episode.
The name duplication isn’t coincidental. The two brands are related.
Vornado fans were first manufactured toward the end of World War II; the inventor of the original technology, an Oklahoma man named Ralph K. Odor (really), had started experimenting in the 1920s with improved airplane-propeller efficiency. In 1931 he introduced the Vornado Plane.
The Vornado name comes from “vortex action” plus a suffix, probably from “tornado.” (A 1936 news account of the plane said it would “roar through the skies on the wings of a span of man-made tornadoes.”)
In the 1940s Odor partnered with a Kansas entrepreneur, O.A. Sutton, and after the war ended the O.A. Sutton Corporation produced the first Vornado fans. Odor quit not long afterward over a patent-rights dispute, and the O.A. Sutton Corporation went bankrupt in the 1950s. The Vornado brand and company were resurrected in Andover, Kansas, in 1989.
As for Vornado Realty Trust, it traces its history to an appliance chain originally called Two Guys from Harrison, founded in 1946 by brothers Sidney and Hubert Hubschman of Harrison, New Jersey. In 1959, Two Guys bought the defunct O.A. Sutton Corporation and renamed the merged company Vornado. At the company’s peak, according to a Wikipedia entry, there were more than 100 Two Guys locations nationwide. Profits began declining in the 1970s, and in 1980, Vornado was acquired by Interstate Department Stores, Inc., which changed its name to Vornado Realty Trust and began selling the retail stores and leasing their physical locations.
Today, Vornado Realty Trust is a publicly traded company and one of the largest owners and managers of commercial real estate in the United States. And Vornado fans for home, business, and industrial use are sold at Sears, Costco, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and other retailers worldwide.