Made In Michigan: The Royce Rolls Ringer housekeeping cart

10:03 PM, Jul 18, 2013   |    comments
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  • Charlie Royce owner of Royce Rolls Ringer
  • A modern day wheeled cleaning bucket
  • One of the first bucket designs for Royce Rolls Ringer

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- In hospitals, hotels, and retirement villages across the country you will find housekeeping carts cleaning up the rooms. But you may be surprised to learn that the idea for the housekeeping cart originated in Grand Rapids and the company is still alive and well today.

In 1925, Royce Rolls Ringer Company (not to be confused with Rolls Royce car company) started with a simple invention born out of childbirth.

Charlie Royce, the third generation owner of the company tells the story, "My grandmother is in the hospital preparing to give birth to my father when she is awoken in the middle of the night by this sound-- a bucket dragging across the floor."

That was the sound of a cleaning bucket.

"My grandmother asked my grandfather if he could do something about that," says Royce. The next day he came back with his invention: wheels.

"Yes-- back in 1925 no one had considered you could roll a bucket around the floor," says Royce.

The rolling bucket was sold across the country and over the years improvements were added. Many modifications came from suggestions; the bucket got a mop ringer, a stainless steel frame, then cabinets were added, and mop holder until the company ended with the current incarnation.

"This is the hospital environmental service cart when you're going in to change over a patient room," says Royce.

The current generation cart has a lot of bells and whistles over just a bucket it with wheels; it has lockable cabinets, a closed lid trash can, space for linens, mop holders for any size handle, and the cleaning buck for the mop is a detachable box. The latest models even use a quieter wheel design.

And a big benefit is that it is collapsible, "You can stick it in your closet in two and half square feet," says Royce

The company is located in Grand Rapids, tucked away in a quiet neighborhood. The basement is where most of the manufacturing takes place and where piles of stainless steel rest until it is cut and formed into the carts.

"Stainless steel is very hard, everything gets bent with a machine," says Royce. The company takes advantage of a secondary market for stainless steel to keep costs down. Companies like Ford, GM, and whirlpool sometimes need to cancel their stainless orders for one reason or another; Royce Rolls Ringer than buys that steel at a discounted rate.

The stainless steel gets cut in to pieces, wheels attached, and the whole cart assembled and ready to ship. Some even go to Hollywood.

"We have made carts for three well known movies: 'Maid in Manhattan,' 'Mad Money,' and 'National Treasure 3,' and at some point we like to say we sold every hospital in the United States," says Royce.

So the next time you are in a clean hospital room or hotel room you can thank a Grand Rapids invention.

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