In 1927, Wendell E. Doty and his friend Harry Babcock recognized a business opportunity and arranged to sell the San's (Battle Creek Sanitarium) equipment through mail order. With $120 and a borrowed typewriter, they worked in Babcock's basement and Doty's garage to originate Battle Creek Equipment Company.
In addition to refining the Sanitarium-designed equipment, Battle Creek Equipment Company also developed several new products, marketing an infrared heat lamp, steam bath cabinet, the Exerow® rowing machine, the Health Bike® stationary exercise bicycle, Health Builder® massage belt and the Health Walker® treadmill. The Health Walker® was the first manual treadmill designed for human use – prior, manual treadmills were only used by animals. By 1936 Doty and Babcock were able to purchase the entire Sanitarium Equipment Company inventory, patents, trademarks and manufacturing rights. This put them in a direct line back to the 1880's and the original "San" of Dr. Kellogg.
After pitching in during World War II to produce fire extinguisher parts, the company began to focus on what has become one of its signature products - the Thermophore® Automatic Moist Heat Pack™ Originally invented by a nurse at the San, this benchmark product produces its own moisture in conjunction with high-intensity heat, for the type of moist heat therapy recommended by medical professionals to treat many types of pain.
In 1958, the firm moved to a new factory and office complex in Battle Creek, Michigan, which included a gymnasium to be used for display and testing of new equipment. In 1987, production of the Thermophore® line moved to a new facility in Fremont, Indiana, while administrative functions and production of exercise equipment continued at the Battle Creek location. Unlike most companies today, Battle Creek Equipment still manufactures over 75% of its products in the US, and have been doing so for 85 years!
In 1957 Harry Babcock retired and Wendell Doty became the sole owner. Wendell continued an active interest in the business until his death at age 96, while his son John, who had been involved in the family business since a child, became President in 1974 and continues as its chairman. The current President, David Underhill, is assisted by Vice-President of Sales, Mary Brown and John Coakes, as Vice President of Operations.