The first echoes of Fisher & Paykel began in New Zealand, when Olive Paykel asked her husband to import a new appliance – a Crosley refrigerator – she’d seen in the American Ladies' Home Journal. She wasn’t the only person who wanted one, and with this popularity, so began a fast-growing appliance importing business run by Olive’s son Maurice Paykel and her son-in-law, Woolf Fisher. This was the beginning of Fisher & Paykel.
When the New Zealand government banned imports of manufactured products a few years later, Fisher and Paykel responded. Rather than closing up shop, we changed our entire approach, establishing a factory to assemble appliances ourselves under licence to companies such as Kelvinator.
Next, we began seeking ways to find a point of difference.
The answer lay in people. The founders’ pioneering spirit encouraged a culture that challenged conventional appliance design and production systems. By putting a focus on understanding how people wanted to live, we embarked on our journey to deliver world-leading innovations that truly improve people’s lives. We started by creating plastic refrigerator liners and insulation made from polyurethane foam – the world’s first commercial version of this technology.
Around the same time, in 1955, Fisher & Paykel acquired cooking range manufacturer H. E. Shacklock Ltd, which dominated the domestic marketing in New Zealand. Their manufacturing history dates back to 1873, and this heritage shapes our approach to cooking to this day.
Another major breakthrough came in the late 1960s when we saw a chance to meet New Zealanders’ modern demands for high-quality appliances at affordable prices.
Using common manufacturing machinery, we developed a way of producing short runs of various models. This flexibility came in handy in the future when it allowed us to manufacture cabinets for a variety of other appliances, made from prepainted steel. The first product to use this technology was the compact dryer – a ground-up design conceived by our own engineers.
This knowledge sparked the beginning of a new era of fabric care. In 1985 we created the Gentle Annie™ – the world’s first washer with a brushless direct current motor. Just a few years later, washing machines powered by our SmartDrive™ technology could sense and respond to each load, delivering exceptional clothes care quickly and quietly.
With the company’s roots in refrigeration, we’ve always understood the role that food care plays in people’s everyday lives. These insights saw the development of the CoolDrawer™, an award-winning multi-temperature drawer-based refrigerator, and the world-first ActiveSmart™ refrigeration technology – further setting Fisher & Paykel apart as a design-led appliance manufacturer.
In 2004, Fisher & Paykel acquired Dynamic Cooking Systems Inc (DCS), a US-based company specialising in outdoor and indoor cooking products – making a new suite of products available in Australia and New Zealand.
Eight years later, we became a part of Haier Group, leveraging their capabilities and scale to continuing bringing Fisher & Paykel to the world.
The best innovators don’t just understand technology, they understand people. Since 1934, we’ve been designing technology that enriches and improves people’s lives. By challenging conventional appliance design these world-first technologies have changed the way we live forever. In 2014 we celebrated 80 years of this spirit of curiosity.