As technology advanced, Vivian Company has kept up with the times, and now utilizes all avenues to handle our customers’ needs from concept, design, installation, and complete service of everything we sell. We have become a trusted partner and ally to the customers we have worked with and serviced for many, many years.
Our dedication to service and satisfaction has remained constant for nearly 100 years, and we will continue to focus on quality new ideas to the benefit of our customers for another 100 years and beyond.
Read about how we got started below!
Vivian Company, formerly Vivian of St. Louis, was established in 1923 as Vivian Manufacturing by Bob Barber, who named the company after his wife.
While selling coupon books for a firm in Birmingham, AL, Barber was continually pressed for ice supplies by customers in the ice manufacturing business. The need was so great and the requests so numerous that he decided to “set up shop.”
In 1927, Barber hired Bert Hosselkus, his stepbrother, who immediately became an integral part of the company. In his travels and visits with members of the industry, Hosselkus decided that in order to meet the Iceman’s needs, he would have to manufacture some items himself. An ice pick assembly machine was developed in 1940 and is still used today. Thirty sewing machines were operating at one time making quilts, tarps, metal-bottom crushed ice bags, block-toting bags, and back pads. Hosselkus held several patents on items he developed to make the Iceman’s work easier and more efficient.
The advent of the refrigerator changed the industry, but Vivian Manufacturing changed with the times. After a meeting with Bill Rothe of New Lisbon, WI, Hosselkus placed the first order for Rothe’s ice merchandiser for street corner use. This purchase was made in late 1950, one year after the death of Bob Barber.
In 1959, Hosselkus, along with wife Betty, bought out Vivian Barber becoming the sole owner of Vivian Manufacturing.
During this time, ice merchandisers were the wave of the future and packaging was becoming a mainstay, putting packaged ice in convenient store locations around the country. Hosselkus spent several hours working on the development of packing equipment. One of his biggest contributions was the development of the poly-coated paper which eliminated the “sticking” together problem of ice bags in merchandisers.
In 1960, the automatic icemaker was becoming prominent. Vivian installed its first automatic icemaker in 1963 at Liebmann Ice Company in Oklahoma City, OK. By this time, JackMinor had been training in the company for two years.
After learning about the company, its products, and the ice industry in general, Minor began traveling throughout the Midwest calling on Icemen and attending Regional and National Conventions.
In 1975, Jack and Dixie Minor purchased Vivian Manufacturing from Bert and Betty Hosselkus and changed the name to Vivian Of St. Louis, Inc. One year later, they purchased land in an industrial development South of St. Louis County. Construction of the 15,000 sq. foot facility in Fenton, MO was completed in 1980 and serves as the current home to Vivian of St. Louis.
In 1984, Dennis Fanger began working at the company, with the intent to diversify the business away from only working on “industrial type projects.” Dennis set out to find a “new niche” for the company, to help it grow into the future. The company began by leasing, selling, and servicing commercial ice machines in the St. Louis, and surrounding area to restaurants, convenience stores, hotels, office buildings, and anywhere an ice machine might be needed. As a byproduct of this new business, the company grew its service business from one technician, in 1985, to a high of 12 in 1997.
Vivian Company quickly became more focused on the “commercial side” of the business and became master distributors for numerous commercial refrigeration product lines to fill customer’s needs. The company noticed a real need for full service, layout, design, supply, and service of all equipment, including the casework, in the convenience store industry. During that period, in the late 1980’s, the company became one of the largest suppliers in that industry, doing hundreds of projects in the Midwest.
One specialty area that was discovered was someone to consult, provide install, and service fountain soda and ice systems besides Coke and Pepsi. The company developed an expertise by designing and selling fountain soda systems, for high capacity, that were not brand specific. This ultimately led to the next boom for the company which came in the theatre industry.
At that time, in the late 1990s, the theatre industry was going through a huge growth stage and building huge “multiplex theatre locations” with 24 to 30 screens at times. This led to the need to design very high capacity delivery systems for their fountain soda, and ice needs. Vivian filled those needs and became the industries expert in high capacity ice and fountain systems.
In 1996, we completed the first ever project with the largest movie exhibitor in the business, at the time, AMC theatres. And to this day, Vivian has worked with AMC as a strategic partner in developing new concepts, ideas, services, etc. in hundreds of their locations across the entire country and even some projects abroad.
Due to the explosive growth over the years, Vivian set out to expand its warehousing capacity and in 2014 built an addition onto the existing facility, which effectively doubled the square footage of the building. Many additional upgrades and additions have been done on the building since then including building an employee and family work out/fitness center utilizing 1200 sf of the new warehouse. The facility is used daily by Vivian personnel, as well as, their family members.
Vivian currently designs, sells, and services to many large chain clients in both the theatre and the convenience store industry across the United States.
The business has expanded into many new markets including hotels, grocery stores, office buildings, bars, retail stores, and healthcare and fitness centers.
The company supplies all types of food service equipment, as well as, manufactures millwork fixtures for all locations that are looking for high quality, full service, hassle free service.
As a result of the thousands of installations, we saw the need to provide nationwide service, after the sale, on all types of food service equipment. In response to that need, Vivian employs an entire team of dedicated “Service Coordinators” to find, vet, work with, and dispatch our various service partners around the entire US. That team is now one of our largest and works 24/7 to provide our clients with maintenance, both reactive and preventative on a customized basis to fill their every need. Our Service Division encompasses the most cost effective and thorough water filter program in the United States to include water tests, analysis, recommendation, install, and ongoing service.