G&W Electric Company was founded in 1905 by Harry Gear and Paul Williams, two distribution utility engineers from Commonwealth Edison in Chicago. Gear and Williams had a better idea and started their business with the introduction of the first detachable type, porcelain pothead (cable terminating device) which offered many benefits to the electrical power system designer. The original machine shop was located on Jackson Boulevard in Chicago.
G&W was quick to expand their proven detachable porcelain technology into other popular distribution products. The next few years saw an expansion of the original single conductor pothead line to accommodate two, three and four conductor cable systems. The company's expertise in underground cable connections soon lead to other products such as switching boxes, series cutouts and cable junction boxes.
The 1920's saw an expansion into the load break switch market with both vault and overhead style oil switches to 6kV, 200A. Switching tables became popular for transformer vault connections. Automatic transfer capabilities were introduced. Pothead ratings expanded to 75kV systems. Increased business necessitated a move to larger manufacturing facilities at 7780 Dante Avenue in Chicago. The company added an aluminum and brass foundry in 1926.
Factory space increased as G&W supported US World War II efforts with the manufacture of specialty ship fittings, radar switches and bomb sights. The pothead line expanded to include soldered metal-to-porcelain sealed designs. An extensive line of tape splice kits and accessories were added.
Pothead line extended to 230kV for high pressure, pipe type cables. Transmission voltage joints were added for low and high pressure, pipe type cables. Oil switch line expanded to include internal spring-assisted manual operators and pneumatic remote operators. Business demand necessitated the move to a larger facility in Blue Island, IL in 1956.
Cable termination (new industry term for pothead) line expanded to include distribution preassembled Slip-on designs and transmission voltage ATA designs to 500kV. Cable joints extended to 138kV for low pressure, oil filled cable. Oil switch improvements included a light duty (LDR) style to 20kA momentary and heavy duty (RA40) style to 64kA momentary. SF6 gas was introduced as an alternate switching dielectric to oil. A high voltage test laboratory was added.
The company stayed under the Williams family ownership until 1978 when the present chairman of the board, John D. Mueller took over. With years of family experience in the electric power industry, Mr. Mueller shared the industry’s respect for the company and therefore kept the G&W name. Manufacturing equipment was upgraded, processes improved and staff changed but the management commitment towards customer satisfaction remained. A complete line of SF6 switches was introduced. Cable accessory improvements included an extension of the Slip-on termination ratings to 161kV and the introduction of a new concept in cable splicing (Universal Splicing).
SF6 switch line expanded to include ratings through 600A, 38kV for vault, pad and overhead systems. SCADA integrated automatic transfer switches were introduced. Developed a line of current limiting protection devices (CLiP) for high continuous current systems through 5000A, 120kA interrupting. GW also introduced a Power Assisted Fuse (PAF) for 200A systems.
Innovations in load break switching and vacuum interrupter technology expanded SF6 switch line to include 600A puffer style switches and combination load and fault interrupting switches using vacuum interrupters (PVI style). Microprocessor automatic transfer controls were added. Cable accessory line expanded with the next generation pre-assembled termination (Slip-on II) to 35kV, 220kV terminations and joints for solid dielectric cables and a 138kV transition joint for low pressure, fluid filled cables. G&W entered into the recloser market with an SF6 overhead design to 38kV. The company became ISO 9001 certified in 1993 and opened a manufacturing operation in Shanghai, China in 1997. John H. Mueller became President in 1994.
G&W added solid dielectric technology with the acquisition of Hotsplicer Corporation in 2000. A complete line of solid dielectric products were introduced. Single phase, three phase and multi-way switchgear (Trident style) offered unique advantages to alternate dielectric designs. Viper-S three phase and Viper-ST triple option reclosers permitted superior protection and control flexibility. Junction bars and encapsulated fuses were added. Molded rubber stress cone development enabled improvements in transmission voltage terminations and a line of molded rubber joints to 130kV. The company became ISO 9001 certified in 2001 and ISO 14001 certified in 2002.
G&W extended their line of solid dielectric switches with the Trident-SR, a distribution automation ready switch for padmount and submersible vault applications. New additions to their SF6 switch family included a three position switch specifically designed for facilitating wind tower access and their Vantage switch, a three position switch rated to 25kA symmetrical interrupting and tested to IEC arc resistance standards. A single phase Viper-SP was added to the Viper recloser line. The Lazer distribution automation solution for automatic power restoration was developed for Smart Grid applications. In the cable accessory area, the Python line of mechanical shrink, premolded rubber terminations and joints was introduced for solid dielectric cable systems through 220kV. The company continued their registration to the latest ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards.