“Tom brings a sense of humor to his position as curator, noting that the vacuum cleaners, while special, are not works of art to anyone but him.”
Tom’s fascination with vacuums began as a preschooler. His mother wrote a letter to a local television station in St. Louis and told the station her son was interested in “anything with a motor in or on it”. So in 1966 at age 4, Tom was invited to visit vacuum collector Stan Kann’s home and was fascinated by Kann’s collection of “final” vacuum cleaner designs and central vacuums. Tom’s passion for vacuums grew, and by the time he was 16, he had started his own collection of vacuums donated to him by family, friends and neighbors. In 1979, the summer he turned 17, Tom began selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door for Rainbow. That summer, he sold enough vacuums to pay in cash for a brand new Trans Am and he quickly learned there’s nothing more rewarding than making a living doing something you love.
Tom has always enjoyed fixing and selling vacuum cleaners. For years he worked selling vacuums in stores and door-to-door for Electrolux, Filter Queen and Kirby until 1990, when he opened his very own vacuum store. Since then, Tom has sold many vacuums including the Tacony brands Simplicity and Riccar. When he became a Riccar retailer in 2008, he earned Elite retailer status in just three months.
Tom was the President of the Vacuum Cleaner Collectors Club (VCCC) from 1995 to 2001. The club has members worldwide. In 2006, Tom and a group of his closest vacuum collector friends started the Vacuum Collectors Association (VCA). The VCA members are all people who work in the vacuum cleaner industry in some way, and have diverse collections of vacuum cleaners from vintage to modern.
In 2000, Air-Way Corporation asked Tom to help design their Signature Series, of which they sold 8,000. The first 100 of this special vacuum cleaner featured Tom’s signature on the serial number plate making them collector’s items.
Through the years, Tom’s collection has grown to over 600 vacuums – and he can explain the design, uses, strengths and weaknesses, method of sales and prices for every one.
In 2009, Tom joined Tacony Corporation, and his visions of the world’s FIRST vacuum cleaner museum became a reality with the opening of the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, Missouri. His friend and mentor, Stan Kann, always wanted to see a museum for vintage cleaners, feeling that the long-past models of yesterday should be preserved for posterity. Sadly, Stan passed away in 2008, before the museum opened.
As curator, Tom gives tours of the museum and manages the factory outlet showroom. His knowledge and experience give him a unique perspective on developing, testing and evaluating new vacuum cleaners. Tom blends education and entertainment as he guides visitors through the 100 years of vacuum cleaners. Tom brings a sense of humor to his position as curator, noting that the vacuum cleaners, while special, are not works of art to anyone but him. He enjoys restoring vintage vacuums as a hobby as well as testing new models of vacuums recently launched to the marketplace. His goal in life is to help Tacony design and build (as well as preserve) the very best vacuum cleaners on earth.