Anna Sutherland Bissell, America’s first-ever female CEO, was a true pioneer of her time. Her husband, Melville Bissell, owned a crockery shop in Grand Rapids, MI. He invented a carpet sweeper innovation after many discussions with Anna on how it was so difficult to keep the shop clean. Together, they patented the sweeper and began selling it in 1876. Anna was a huge proponent and salesperson for the sweeper, convincing one of America’s first department stores to carry the product.
In 1889, at age 46 Melville passed and Anna took control of the Bissell Company. She championed the business, aggressively marketing the sweeper and organizing assembly and production. She even took the business overseas to Europe. It is said that England’s Queen Victoria insisted that her palace be “Bisselled” every week.
Anna was also extremely progressive with her employee pension plans and worker’s compensation. She was an active philanthropist in her city, sitting on many boards and founding the Bissell House, which offered recreational opportunities for youth.
Anna was a successful business woman, raising 5 children on her own and staying very active in her community. We are proud to say that she helped create this wonderful company and that her legacy remains strong.