The Evolving of the Revolving Lazy Susan: the Story of the Modern Lazy Susan Bearing
In the winter of 1948, Don Sullivan of Triangle Manufacturing received a request from a local cabinetry manufacturer for a swivel bearing. They requested a design that must have a steel race for balls to roll in, as other materials would not remain smooth after a short time in operation. Another request was for a low profile design so that the part would not be obvious. A ball size of 1/4" was chosen -- a very common size used in many other products, and therefore available at low prices The race material chosen had a thickness of 20 gage so that it would nicely form into quite deep races, and also be low in cost. At that time this material was heavily used in automobile construction, allowing Triangle to take advantage of the low pricing generated by production of the large volume of steel.
The overall plan was based on a wood platform design with ordinary furniture caster's constructed by the engineering department of Morgan Co. of Oshkosh. The purchasing agent asked Sullivan to take a look at their project and see if he could come up with something better. Sullivan said that he "was so very busy at that time with other developments," but he promised was that he "would try to find time to work something up."
After much prodding by Morgan, he finally sat down and produced a design but the Triangle tool room was so busy that he had to make some temporary tooling in his own little basement shop.
In about ten days, they made some samples that were submitted to Morgan Co. which were quickly approved. Morgan Co. immediately ordered a thousand six inch units. Turn tables at that time were a central post with crudely fastened shelves. There were ball bearing turntables used in industry, but they were very expensive and never used for mass retail market.
The lazy susan bearing was designed specifically for use in cupboards that Morgan Co. wanted to build, and Sullivan did not really think of it as being that intriguing. It was almost an afterthought that he told the foreman to add the Triangle name and address stamp on the 1,000 initial parts.
About a month later Triangle Manufacturing began to get inquiries from other manufacturers for "that pair of swivel plates with balls." Everyone called it something different. Then a few individuals made inquires about the plates for use on personal projects, and a few magazines offered spot mentions to describe the bearing. Sullivan then decide to develop a little advertising pamphlet on the Triangle Manufacturing Lazy Susan bearing.
Better Homes and Gardens also offered to publish a "credit" but first checked the company physically and financially to make sure that we could deliver if their subscribers wanted to buy the item. Triangle Manufacturing met the test, and over the next year we shipped at least 5,000 units to individuals and small enterprises. They were sent by parcel post and all sales were cash even to the point of people sending signed blank checks with messages of "just send it quick".
Thus was the birth of Triangle Manufacturing's Lazy Susan bearing.
Today, Triangle is one of the largest suppliers and manufacturers of the modern Lazy Susan bearing.