(no names are mentioned to ensure the privacy of those involved)
Southern Fan was founded in Dallas TX in 1979. A successful storm window and door company was looking for a product they could manufacture that would sell primarily during their off season (the summer).
Casablanca Fan Co. was just starting to become successful and it just so happened one of the executives had just bought a Casablanca fan. And so it was brought in and disassembled "let's see what we need to make one of these" and Southern Fan Co was formed. As a result the fan they designed was a direct copy of the Casablanca, albeit with some
The company headquarters was in Dallas, in a building that now houses an industrial-coatings research firm. The manufacturing plant was in Tyler, Texas, a nearby manufacturing town. The metalwork was contracted to Bethlehem Steel, and later to a plant in Minnesota when Bethlehem Steel started making their own fans (Old Jacksonville, which are often confused with Tara).
Southern Fan sales were extremely successful during their initial years from 1979-1981. The name "Tara" came from a marketing idea to use images from "Gone with the Wind" in their logos and advertisements. Their other successful sales 'gimmick' was that the fans were offered with a Lifetime Warranty. In 1981 ceiling fans were increasingly being made overseas and imported and could therefore be sold at a lower price than $200-400 American-made fans. The market became flooded with less-expensive imports and Southern Fan's sales dwindled. The company eventually filed for bankruptcy in April of 1989.
Southern Fan sold a number of fans to a company called American Lantern out of Newport, Arkansas. These fans were then relabeled as "American Lantern" and sold by American Lantern's distributors.
Tara fans were sold primarily in the south and seem to be most prevalent in Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. However fans have been known to exist as far as Alaska. American Lantern's distributors brought Tara fans to additional regions including the Midwest. Anywhere a large variable speed knob is seen . . .
A Personal Addition:
In my experience, people in Texas, Florida, and Louisiana seem to have heard of Tara fans, and almost no one outside of those states has. No one that I've talked to has ever heard of the American Lantern fans, the only reason I know they were relabeled is because I had the
privilege of speaking to someone who was a sales rep for Southern Fan while they were in business, and he informed me that he sold a great many to American Lantern to be relabeled. He thought that American Lantern was out of Indiana, but the only American Lantern I've been able to find record of was out of
Arkansas. He wasn't sure so it's probably the same one.
Before I learned about these relabeled fans I was killing myself trying to figure out how a Tara ended up in a lumberyard in Wisconsin. I spoke to a buyer from the lumberyard, who'd been with them since the beginning, who remembered them hanging the fan originally, he had thought it was a fan they took off their shelves. However, they had only sold Design House fans, and before that, Ritz. He had never heard of Tara or Southern Fan. The mystery was solved when I learned about the re-labeling, the lumberyard DID sell American Lantern light fixtures. I'm assuming that American Lantern must have sent them a sample, and, while they neglected to carry their line, they instead hung the sample fan up for use. For more context and/or details consult
My Tara Story and
The Lumberyard Gallery.
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