Amana Refrigeration, Inc.,
Born November 8, 1908 in the Amana colonies, George Foerstner left school at thirteen to work in his father’s auto parts business. At twenty-one he was a salesman for the Amana Woolen Mills. When he was in his mid-20s a local businessman asked him to build a reliable beverage cooler. This request changed his life and many others. Foerstner started his own company, Electrical Equipment Company to meet the need. In 1936, it was purchased by the Amana Society and renamed Amana Refrigeration. Foerstner stayed as its manager, a position he held for the next forty-six years. He retired in 1982 at age seventy-three.
Under his leadership Amana excelled in the kitchen appliance industry. The company was the first to produce side-by-side refrigerator-freezers and counter-top microwave ovens in 1967. However, Amana would probably not have become the industry giant it is, were it not for Foerstner's other great skill: marketing. In the 1940s, he increased the company’s national profile by hiring well-known Hollywood personalities to appear in Amana advertisements. When the safety of microwaves was challenged in 1973, Foerstner recruited World-renown University of Iowa professor James Van Allen, who had discovered radiation belts around the earth, to defend the oven. Van Allen assured the public that he felt no danger in using his microwave oven and a crisis for the company was averted. It was this marketing expertise that attracted Raytheon Co, which purchase Amana Refrigeration in 1965.
George Foerstner lent his leadership to community efforts as well. He was instrumental in establishing the Herbert Hoover Library and is credited with founding the University of Iowa’s I Club and the Amana VIP Golf Tournament. He died in January 2000.