Ingersoll-Rand Celebrates 100-Year Anniversary

Mon July 11, 2005 - National Edition
Pete Sigmund

Look no further than Ingersoll-Rand (IR) for the keys to success in business.

Celebrating its 100th year in 2005, IR has been everywhere, it seems, and done everything, while seizing the moment and diversifying into new fields.

It helped dig the Panama Canal, sculpt the faces of presidents on Mount Rushmore, build subways, bridges, highways, tunnels and skyscrapers, and construct the Hoover Dam, the tunnel under the English Channel and China’s Three Gorges Dam.

IR is credited with inventing the jackhammer drill, associated with construction ever since, in 1912.

“Rosie the Riveter” used an Ingersoll-Rand drill in a photo that symbolized the 6 million women who helped produce U.S. armaments during World War II.

IR’s Bobcat, light towers and portable air compressors helped meet the 9/11 World Trade Center emergency and rescue nine miners from deep within the Quecreek coal mine in 2002.

IR also is associated with the accomplishments of other companies that it later acquired in its diversification and growth. Some examples include:

• the first cylindrical lock (Walter Schlage, 1909)

• the first self-service frozen food display cases (Hussman, 1935)

• the first skid steer loader (Melroe Manufacturing, now Bobcat Company, 1960)

• the first reduced-speed reverse on electric golf carts (Club Car, 1970), and

• the biometric data acquisition terminal with fingerprint sensor (Interflex, 2004) that increases security laboratories and other high security facilities.

The past is prologue. Ingersoll-Rand has continued to innovate and move toward new horizons in construction equipment and other fields.

Here’s the picture, past and present.

How Did It Happen?

IR’s story is rather surprising and it mirrors the growth of America. The Ingersoll part of the company name comes from Simon Ingersoll, a prolific inventor who in 1871 patented a steam-powered, tripod-mounted rock drill that he had built for a New York City contractor named John Minor. (He charged Minor $50.)

Ingersoll’s box drill, using black powder, revolutionized the drilling of bedrock for buildings, roads and bridges. Yet, surprisingly, he was only involved with the resultant company — the Ingersoll Rock Drill Company — for less than two years.

After repairing an Ingersoll drill, Henry Clark Sergeant, who held 16 patents for rock drills or drilling equipment, liked it so much that he convinced a business partner named Jose Francisco de Navarro to purchase Ingersoll’s patents. Sergeant became president of the company, which eventually became the Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company.

Meanwhile, two brothers named Addison and Joyce Rand, whose family had operated 30 factories making buggy whips, moved into the fledgling black powder industry and developed a mechanical drill, which created larger blasting holes. (This drill was significant in the early progress of air compressor technology, which later became a strongpoint of Ingersoll-Rand.) By 1879, their globally successful Rand Drill Company was competing strongly with Ingersoll-Sergeant.

As the 20th Century opened, Rand Drill introduced an air compressor that offered the greatest available capacity per unit of floor space of any compressor at the time. It could be driven directly by steam, or indirectly by belt, gears or silent chain.

In the first years of the new century, two other brothers, W.R. and Michael P. Grace, led Ingersoll-Sergeant into merger negotiations with Rand. Michael closed the deal in London, England, on June 1, 1905. Ingersoll-Rand was born.

The company’s first president, Michael Saunders, held an engineering degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He guided Ingersoll-Rand to a position of worldwide leadership, opening 167 sales offices in 26 countries.

“Among business mergers of the past century, the combination of Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company and Rand Drill Company — which formed Ingersoll-Rand — is notable for its enduring success and legacy of achievement,” Herbert L. Henkel, IR’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in observing the June 1 centennial.

The company began with this legacy and has moved far beyond it in many interesting ways, including some of the most versatile models of construction equipment on the planet.

Moving On

Over the past century, as in the examples at the beginning of this article, Ingersoll-Rand has diversified way beyond drilling.

The company now focuses on five sectors:

• construction technologies,

• the Bobcat skid steer loader and Club Car golf car/utility vehicle businesses,

• industrial technologies, security technologies, and

• climate control to preserve food.

(In this transformation into a diversified industrial firm, IR actually got out of the drilling business last August, when it sold its drilling solutions business to Atlas Copco AB, headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, for $225 million.)

Ingersoll-Rand now includes approximately 40,000 employees, 35 manufacturing facilities in the United States, and dozens of others throughout the world. Headquartered in Bermuda, with its executive headquarters in Montvale, NJ, it reported 2004 revenues of $9.4 billion.

Construction Technologies

IR recently split its former infrastructure sector into two parts, construction technologies and the Bobcat and Club Car businesses, to reflect its diversified structure and to promote greater transparency of results.

Equipment in the construction technologies sector, based in Davidson, NC, includes commercial and highway asphalt pavers, asphalt and soil compactors, mid-size earth engaging equipment, material handlers, portable air compressors, light towers and generators, light compaction equipment and concrete equipment.

An example of IR’s approach in this field: the cab of the 2005 model DD-158HFA and DD-112HF asphalt compactors rotate 180 degrees and slide up to 15 in. (38.1 cm) across the chassis, so that operators can more fully view the pavement. The new cab was unveiled at this year’s ConExpo-Con/AGG show.

The 158HFA is a 15-ton class (13.6 t) double-drum compactor incorporating SMART drum technology to meet changing paving requirements. All HFA high-frequency compactors are engineered with eight amplitude settings. They automatically adjust to lower amplitudes with higher frequency for thinner lifts and higher amplitude with lower frequency for thicker lifts or stiffer materials. Vibration of drums, propulsion (rolling speed) and the flow of water spray systems are also regulated automatically for jobs such as airport runways or major highways.

Continuing its long legacy in air compressors, IR, this past March, introduced its new AirSource and AirSource Plus portable rotary-screw compressors for construction and other applications. Only 67 in. (170.2 cm) wide and 59 in. (150 cm) high, they feature a new corrosion-resistant modular-design canopy.

The company plans to introduce two new excavators, in the 7.5- and 12.5-ton (6.8 and 11.3 t) classes, this fall, along with two new wheel loaders providing 60 and 73 hp. (44.7 and 54.4 kW).

Ingersoll-Rand acquired ABG Verwaltungs GmbH of Germany in 1990 and Blaw-Knox in 1995 to become the world’s largest paving equipment supplier. All highway-class paving equipment in IR’s line now wears a signature IR beige color, which is the construction organization’s global branding identity.

Bobcat Company

Ingersoll-Rand acquired Clark Equipment Company in 1995, bringing the Bobcat skid steer loader into the family.

Bobcat Company, which is a separate market sector along with Club Car, has introduced more than 30 new products during the past two years.

“It is more than a builder of skid steer loaders; it’s a leader in the compact equipment market,” IR’s Web site states.

One of the company’s many innovative products is the Toolcat 5600 utility work machine. Introduced in 2004 after more than three years of development, this versatile unit “created an entirely new category of compact equipment, and is revolutionizing the way work is done,” the Web site claims.

Bobcat products now include mini-track loaders, compact track loaders, skid-steer loaders, the A300 all-wheel loader, compact loader backhoes, compact excavators, compact telescopic tool carriers, utility vehicles, utility work machines, “and attachments that are recognized as the best in the industry.”

Bobcat boasts more than 60 job-matched attachments for compact equipment.

Club Car

Club Car manufactures more than 40 models that are at golf courses, resorts, schools, universities, airports, construction sites and other locations. Last year, Club Car introduced the Precedent, a redesigned golf car offering many “comfort” features. The company also produces the XRT 1500 rough-terrain utility vehicle with the industry’s first self-engaging four-wheel-drive system.

Industrial Technologies

This sector offers products and solutions enhancing industrial efficiency. A leading product is the Unigy air compressor whose “Intellidrive” allows its variable-speed motor to optimize air compression according to the user’s need.


Building on its acquisition of Schlage Lock Company in 1974, IR is now a global leader in security technologies for both residential and commercial markets. Its brands include Schlage, LCN, Von Duprin, Interflex and Kryptonite. One of its innovative approaches is the biometric terminal with fingerprint sensor, from its acquisition of Interflex.

Climate Control

This sector, through its Hussman and Koxka brands, provides solutions for transporting, storing and displaying temperature-sensitive products. Serving supermarkets and other food stores, it also includes Thermo King temperature control systems for trucks, trailers, railcars and seagoing container ships.

Tramac Hydraulic Breakers

IR announced on June 10 that it has acquired U.S. distribution rights to market and sell Tramac-branded hydraulic breakers and demolition tools, as well as vibratory compactors and cutting heads, from Tramac Corp.

The beat goes on and Ingersoll-Rand continues to seize the moment.CEG