In the Beginning..
Robert Gardner could have never imagined the legacy he inspired when his company provided the first effective speed controls for steam engines in 1859. By the turn of the century, the Gardner Governor Company had sold more than 150,000 governors across the United States and Canada. In 1883, the Company was awarded a medal at the Southern Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, for the best steam engine governor built in the United States.
Gardner expanded his offering by manufacturing pumps that fed water to boilers. By the turn of the century, this pump technology was adapted for use the oil and natural gas well drilling process.
A couple of significant events happened at the turn of the century that would impact the future of Gardner Denver. One was the experimentation of “horseless carriages” driven by gasoline or kerosene reciprocating piston engines. When cars were introduced into the mainstream of American life, the demand for oil increased. The second event was the discovery of oil at Spindletop, a gusher on the Gulf Coast, south of Beaumont, Texas, which ushered in America’s first oil boom. With the high demand for oil, equipment would be needed to bring it up from the ground. The Gardner drilling pumps, or mud pumps, were developed for that purpose.
It was also about this time that Gardner began manufacturing high speed vertical air compressors. A line of compressors was sold to gas stations that started to spring up to serve the burgeoning automobile market.
How We Got Our Name
The development of Colorado’s mining industry in the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries provided a ready market for Gardner Governor products. By 1920, the Denver Rock Drill Company was one of Gardner Governor’s most productive agents and sold many compressors, which were utilized in connection with the drills manufactured and marketed. The early contact with the Denver Rock Drill Company eventually led to the suggestion that the two companies merge. The eventual merger in 1927 joined a company that enjoyed a reputation as one of the best-run manufacturers of rock drilling equipment for the world’s mining industry with a firm that dominated its niche of manufacturing portable air compressors for the construction industry.
While Gardner Denver suffered during the Great Depression, the Company was helped in the mid-1930s by the massive infrastructure projects that were initiated by the Roosevelt administration, designed to help get the nation back on its feet. Gardner Denver portable compressors were used to build tunnels, highways, bridges, and dams, including the Grand Coulee and Hoover dams.
In 1943 Gardner Denver was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
In the1950s, during the post-war growth period, Gardner-Denver made a number of acquisitions, including Keller Tool Company, and the CycloBlower Company, a manufacturer of helical screw blowers.
In the 1960s, Gardner Denver added the Apex Machine and Tool Company and the Martin Decker Corporation.
In 1973, an announcement was made that Gardner Denver was moving its headquarters to Dallas, Texas, and at the end of the decade the Company was acquired by Cooper Industries. Between 1985 and 1988, Cooper purchased Sutorbilt and DuroFlow blowers, OPI well servicing pumps and Joy compressors. As Cooper Industries’ strategies changed, the Gardner Denver Industrial Machinery Division was spun off in 1994 as an independent company. Gardner Denver, Inc. then became a publicly held company trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Growing Through Strategic Acquisitions
Gardner Denver, Inc. continued to acquire complimentary companies. Twenty-five companies have been acquired since the spin-off, significantly broadening the Company’s product portfolio including: TCM oilfield pumps;Lamson and Hoffman centrifugal blowers; CompAir, Tamrotor, Champion, Bottarini and Belliss & Morcom compressors Nash liquid ring pumps; Elmo Rietschle, Wittig and Drum blowers; Butterworth water jetting systems Emco Wheaton loading arms and fuel systems Todo dry break couplers Thomas and ILMVAC OEM compressors and pumps, Robuschi and Conroe Plastics.
On July 30, 2013, Gardner Denver went from a publicly traded company to a private company when its outstanding shares were purchased by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (together with its affiliates, “KKR”) Founded in 1976, KKR has grown into a global investment firm that invests in a variety of industries all over the world. KKR’s approach to private equity investments is simple: it seeks to partner with strong management teams to build and grow great businesses over the long run.
Today, Gardner Denver, Inc. is a recognized leader in the markets it serves. Highly engineered products provide vacuum and pressure for thousands of different applications in dozens of different markets. Our commitment to our customers worldwide is the reason Gardner Denver is here today…and why we’ll be here tomorrow.