State Industries co-founder, John R. Lindahl Sr.

ASHLAND CITY, TENN. Water heater industry pioneer John R. Lindahl Sr., co-founder of State Industries, died July 5. "It is with great sadness that I convey the news that John R. Lindahl has passed away," said Ajita Rajendra, president of A.O. Smith Water Products Co. "John was a pioneer and an icon in the water heater industry. We have all lost a good friend and role model, and I know I speak for

ASHLAND CITY, TENN. — Water heater industry pioneer John R. Lindahl Sr., co-founder of State Industries, died July 5.

"It is with great sadness that I convey the news that John R. Lindahl has passed away," said Ajita Rajendra, president of A.O. Smith Water Products Co. "John was a pioneer and an icon in the water heater industry. We have all lost a good friend and role model, and I know I speak for the entire A.O. Smith family when I say he will be missed."

Born in 1922, Lindahl piloted a B-26 Marauder on 64 bombing raids during World War II. After the war he returned home to Nashville, Tenn., to manage State Stove & Manufacturing Co., which he co-founded with his father. By 1948 the company was making water heaters exclusively.

During that time, the younger Lindahl worked in the factory, delivered water heaters on his truck and installed them himself. Two years later, he designed his first original water heating equipment, challenging corporate giants of the day such as Westinghouse and General Electric with his pricedriven innovations. His leadership transformed State Industries into one of the nation's largest water heater manufacturers.

State Industries moved to a new factory in Ashland City in 1961. Its biggest break came four years later when Sears awarded State all its water heater business.

Lindahl was well known for spurring numerous technical advances in the water heater industry, as well as for his way of doing business that he developed around building and managing industry relationships. He was reputed to be the first manufacturer in the industry to focus on energy efficiency and the first to use insulating foam between the water heater's tank and the jacket.

Lindahl introduced the Sandblaster self-cleaning device to reduce sediment accumulation and pioneered the development and use of self-cleaning dip tubes. With Lindahl at the helm, State Industries grew and expanded for nearly six decades before its acquisition in September 2001 when A.O. Smith Corp. purchased all the stock of State Industries from the Lindahl family.

Herbert Lindahl, who worked alongside his brother at State Industries for many years, died Jan. 2.