Carrier and the HVAC Industry


Willis Carrier was born in Angola, New York, on the shore of Lake Erie, and inherited his mother’s love for “tinkering”, with clocks, sewing machines, and other household devices. He loved mathematics, and studied it at every chance, when he wasn’t inventing his own devices.

In 1895 he received a scholarship to Cornell University and graduated in 1901 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Following college, he went to work for the Buffalo Forge Company, a company which manufactured heaters, blowers and air exhaust systems, in their heating engineering department designing heating systems to dry lumber and coffee.


The Great Depression slowed residential and light commercial use of air-conditioning. Willis Carrier’s igloo in the 1939 World’s Fair gave visitors a glimpse into the future of air conditioning, but before it could catch on, World War II began.

Carrier moved his company to Syracuse, New York in the 1930s, and the company became one of the largest employers in central New York. In 1930, he started Toyo Carrier and Samsung Applications in South Korea and Japan. South Korea is now the largest market for air conditioning in the world.

The company pioneered the design and manufacture of refrigeration machines to cool large spaces. By increasing industrial production in the summer months, air conditioning revolutionized American life. The introduction of residential air conditioning in the 1920s helped start the great migration to the Sunbelt. Carrier remains a world leader in commercial and residential HVAC and refrigeration. In 2007 the Carrier Corporation had sales of more than $15 billion and employed some 45,000 people.

When Willis Carrier invented the first system for “manufactured weather” in 1902, he sparked an industry that revolutionized the way in which we live, work and play. From that defining moment – and through to the present day – Carrier has been a company built on a legacy of innovation. For more than a century, our research, expertise and forethought have resulted in market-leading innovations and “firsts” that have shaped and defined the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration industry. Through our history of product excellence and committed customer service, we have evolved into a global company serving millions of people and businesses in 172 countries on six continents around the world.

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