As you can well imagine of the 127-year history of Insinger Machine Company, each leader has faced new challenges. The case could be made that the company’s current leader, Ari Cantor, has been handed the most challenging obstacles ever faced by the family with the on-set of the Pandemic of 2020.
From two World Wars to The Great Depression to 9/11, each generation of Cantor leadership at Insinger has found away to respond to the challenge. The Cantor family saga reads like a Hollywood movie script.
“My great, great grandfather Emel Levine was basically a merchant banker who came over to the US in like the late 1880’s.” Ari Cantor noted. “He was a brilliant businessman in the 1910s and twenties. The way he made money was buying distressed businesses. He actually brought Insinger out of bankruptcy, receivership and thought it was an interesting concept because they had this patent on a thing called a dishwasher, which was at the time was a revolutionary new product.”
It is interesting to look back at who Insinger’s neighbors were in Philadelphia at the time. They actually shared the building with an automobile factory, an agricultural food equipment processing plant, a furrier and a paint processing company. The actual design had been created by Mr. Insinger when he was a Dutch immigrant and an engineer.
“He designed a product that basically combined a giant cast iron bathtub and a propeller from a boat motor with a leather belt and a drive system,” Cantor said. “There was an open burner ring underneath that would heat the water in the bathtub and a giant hand crank with wooden basket attached to it.”
“You would crank on one side and lower the wooden basket of dishes into the washing side. You leave it there for about 10, 15 minutes, the water would agitate and then you kind of pull the crank up and would then dip it into the clean side. Then sterilize with boiling hot water. It’s very similar to the way you might kind of sterilize an old baby bottle with a pair of tongs, like a glass bottle. With the Spanish flu, typhoid and polio to contend with like COVID today, it was truly a modern sanitizing system. My grandfather originally sold the dishwashers primarily to hotels and resorts along the Mid Atlantic. Atlantic City, which was booming at the time, as well as Manhattan and along the Jersey shore.”
In the 1940s, the supply division of the US Navy was located at the Philadelphia shipyard. The company was already building equipment for the Navy and when the call went out to minimize weight on ships going to fight World War II. Cast iron needed to be replaced on ships by a new material called Stainless Steel and Insinger took the job. “From the 1930s through probably the late 1970s, about 90% of what we did was fulfilling military contracts. Although, we still do a substantial amount of government business today, most of our business today is commercial kitchens.” Cantor said.
In the ‘90s and early 2000s, Insinger became one of the first manufacturers to start making and selling under counter dishwashers in the US market. The design had become popular as a glass washer in Europe. Cantor and his father, Robert, had a vision to market the line domestically as a dishwashing solution. Among the keys to Insinger’s success has been the company’s ability to continue to innovate its manufacturing procedures.
“Here we are in the same home we have been in for 100 plus years, constantly trying to introduce the very latest technology to our line. That includes, the intricate bending and cutting of metal. By cutting and welding metal in house, we are able to get product to market really quickly.”
Insinger’s insistence on continuing to produce in its own home has also given the company a unique ability to serve key segments of the industry. “We are able to handle much smaller orders for a chain that might only need 50 units. While most of our competitors don’t want anything to do with an order of less than 500 units. “By combining that flexibility with a truly unique line of niche products, including our tray washers and three compartments sinks, we have developed a true cult following of customers.”
Dealers and consultants love working with Insinger: “I think it is our Navy heritage that has led to us being known as the Seal Team of dishwashing. It’s very common for our team to work with our customers to make certain that the installation is handled with military
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest generations of Cantors had the opportunity to show how his recipe of passion and vision could reinvent an already humble company. “We saw many of our competitors go back to making hand-washing sinks. It struck us as space that’s already inundated. We took a very different tact by creating a line called Outpost. It’s our response to everything that is wrong with all of the hand sanitizer products and delivery systems on the market. Most are either plastic or cheap thing that barely hold enough chemical and require a proprietary refill. We even saw one-gallon jugs tied down to a music sheet holder or to an old box or a grocery cart that doesn’t work. We knew there was a better way.”
Cantor and his team challenged themselves to find a hand sanitizer solution that can fit a one-gallon container with a hand pump built into it. Then we added a foot pedal to make it touchless and a key lock, so it couldn’t be stolen by bolting it to the floor.
In addition to Outpost and a full line of innovative dishwashing solutions, Insinger has also made a commitment to enhance service in Metro New York. “We are very excited to introduce Kaufmann and Associates as our new Tri-State rep. The Kaufmann brothers share our passion to serve our customers,” Cantor concluded.