Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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From horns to AC units, San Antonio legacy business still cool 140 years later

Saint Anthony – Chuck Campbell, CEO of Friedrich Air conditioning, leads the company to their next cool invention.

But, the company already has a rich history of some pretty cool stuff that’s still around.

Wentzel Friedrich was a German cabinet maker who emigrated to the United States and eventually moved to San Antonio. He taught the trade to his sons Ed and Richard Friedrich.

Wentzel became famous for his horn furniture and in 1883 Ed founded “Friedrich”.

“They started out making furniture and over time got into different kinds of products in the 1920s. They got into refrigeration equipment for restaurants, bars, things like that, and in the 1950s they got into air conditioning, ”Campbell said.

But it was the next big company that got them started in the air conditioning business.

“In the 1950s, we were the first to introduce a window air conditioner and it really caught on quickly,” Campbell said.

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About a decade ago, one of the first units manufactured was discovered and was still in working order.

“Several years ago a consumer called us and told us he had a very old air conditioner. Will we want to get it back? ” he said. “We found out that this was the fourth air conditioner we ever built in 1952 and to this day it is still running and blowing cold air.”

Friedrich air conditioners can be found in homes, hotels, apartments, and retirement homes. Headquarters, testing and engineering are still based in San Antonio.

According to Campbell, the company has made other firsts, including the first to use an environmentally friendly refrigerant and the first to connect products to Wi-Fi and smart devices.

“We want people to see Friedrich products locally and think we’re a good employer and part of the local community,” he said.

Friedrich is listed on the City of San Antonio’s List of companies inherited from the Historic Preservation Office.

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