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After a luncheon for 142 in Pittsburgh last week Carrier Corp.’s President Lloud* Wampler flipped a switch which turned on the world’s biggest private air-conditioning system: a $5,000,000 complex which cools 68 floors in the three-building Gateway Center in Pittsburgh’s new Golden Triangle of modern office buildings. It was a fitting event, for last week Carrier also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the air-conditioning industry fathered by its founder, Willis Carrier.

In those 50 years, air conditioning, which was once considered a luxury, has become standard practice. In the last ten years, Carrier Corp., which is the biggest industrial conditioner and has about 15% of the home market, has quadrupled its gross to $80 million, and tripled its net to $3.6 million. President Wampler, 57, thinks that is only the beginning. In the next ten years, said he last week, air-conditioning sales should more than double; the number of houses having single-room air conditioners should increase tenfold to about 5,000,000. Said Wampler: Man will forget “the day when he used to wrestle windows up & down, fight with screens, adjust radiators and try to pacify furnaces. He will simply set a thermostat and forget it … The non-air-conditioned house is today’s horse & buggy.

Candy & Tobacco. Real horses & buggies filled the roads when Willis Carrier, a young Cornell-trained engineer employed by the Buffalo Forge Co., founded the modern air-conditioning industry in 1902. His first client was a Brooklyn lithograph company which had trouble because varying humidity in the shop made its paper contract & expand. Carrier devised a system which not only controlled humidity but cooled and circulated the air as well.

A few years later, Carrier set up his own company with $35,000 capital. Soon he was providing equipment for candymaking plants, dusty tobacco factories, textile mills, the film industry and hotels.’ Not till the Depression did Cloud Wampler appear on the scene. Wampler, a Knox College (Ill.) graduate, was a successful investment banker with Chicago’s Lawrence Stern & Co., specializing in real estate; one of his tenants in Chicago was Carrier Corp. When Carrier, hard hit by hard times, asked for a rent reduction Wampler coldly replied that the company needed a lot more than that. He became financial adviser to Carrier, and a company director in 1934; seven years later he became executive vice president at $25,000 a year and president ten months later. (Chairman Willis Carrier died two years ago, at 73.)

Lamb Chops & Martinis. Wampler promptly went after and won big defense contracts. During World War II, Carrier equipment air-conditioned ships, defense plants and Government buildings (its Pentagon installation is the biggest air-conditioning system in the world), kept food cold for the armed forces, simulated the low temperatures of high altitudes in wind tunnels. Once, on a hurry-up job for two synthetic rubber plants, Wampler yanked out the air-conditioning system in Manhattan’s swank Tiffany & Co. jewelry store and shipped it to Oklahoma and Texas. To save space, Carrier devised a system which eliminated large cooling ducts. Instead, it compressed the air and shot it through small pipes.

Wampler plugged the economic advantages of air conditioning. He showed how it could increase productivity in factories and offices, boost retail sales. “Go to a man and say, ‘I’ll make you more money.’ Take a restaurant. Maybe you’ll go there on a hot day for a green salad. But after you cool off, you may want something more substantial, like a lamb chop. You’ll think a Martini would be just the thing.”

Under Wampler, Carrier has expanded abroad, put air conditioning in a French photographic plant, a Colombian brewery, a Finnish rayon mill (among Carrier’s earlier cooling ventures: a South African gold mine, a Middle East harem). One of Wampler’s pet dreams is covered streets, fully air-conditioned and reserved for pe-.destrians. “The motorists,” he adds, dead serious, “would use the roofs of the streets for driving their air-conditioned cars. When we get to that point, we’ll get away from the one criticism we’ve met with—the fact that people don’t like to walk out of an air-conditioned building into the terrific heat.”

* His mother’s maiden name.

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