Henry Clark Sergeant was an inventor since his teenage years and obtained his first patent at the age of 20. At the age of 34 in 1868, he went to New York and started a machine shop to specialize in developing other inventor’s ideas. His business had grown enough that he had decided to partner with Jose F. de Navarro. They moved their business into a machine shop owned by Jose.
At this time, underground drilling was done by using a sledgehammer to strike a steel rod. A farmer named Simon Ingersoll accepted a contractor’s challenge to invent a drill that would work on rock. Simon used the machine shop owned by Henry and Jose to develop the rock drill and patented its design in 1871. This new rock drill rotated the bit after each strike driving the steel deeper with each hit. This was the beginnings of the Ingersoll Rock Drill Company.
Addison Christian Rand formed the Rand Drill Company in 1871 to develop a rock drill and air-compression machinery for his bother’s company. His brother, Alfred T. Rand, owned a mining firm called the Laflin & Rand Powder Company. Addison developed two drills, the Little Giant trappet drill and the Rand Slugger drill. His marketing techniques convinced mining companies to use rock drills for mining instead of a hammer and chisel.
The rock drill developed by Simon Ingersoll did not meet the challenges of building the rocky streets in New York City. Henry Clark Sergeant had the idea of changing the design of the rock drill so it could better resist breaking when working with the rocks. Henry and Jose Navarro purchased the patent for the rock drill from Simon and organized the Ingersoll Rock Drill Company in 1874. Henry Sergeant became the company’s first president.
Henry worked for years on improving Ingersoll’s design of the rock drill. One of his improvements was to use compressed air instead of steam to power the drill. Henry had designed a completely different rock drill by 1885. He formed a company called Sergeant Drill Company to manufacture his newly designed rock drill. In 1888, Henry merged the Ingersoll Rock Drill Company and the Sergeant Drill Company to form the Ingersoll-Sergeant Rock Drill Company. After several years, Henry became the director of the company and completely devoted his time to inventing.
In 1905, Michael P. Grace put the Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company and the Rand Drill Company together as one. The Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company was more specialized in tools for construction work. The Rand Drill Company focused more on the equipment needs of the underground mining industry. Combining the two companies created a company that provided a well rounded line of air powered machinery and deemed itself as “the largest builder of air power machinery in the world”. The new company was incorporated and called the Ingersoll-Rand Company.
William Lawrence Saunders became the first president for the Ingersoll-Rand Company. Before becoming Ingersoll-Rand’s president, William was recognized as the inventor of a drill that could be used underwater. In 1896, he was also the editor for an industrial trade publication called “Compressed Air”. William also served as mayor of North Plainfield, New Jersey for two terms. After becoming president of Ingersoll-Rand, William pushed the company to design and produce many different types of rock drills and air compressors.
In 1907, Ingersoll Rand purchased the Imperial Pneumatic Tool Company of Athens, Pennsylvania to expand their line to include pneumatic tools. In 1909, the company expanded their business to include industrial pumps by purchasing the A.S. Cameron Steam Works company. In 1913, Ingersoll-Rand began selling centrifugal pumps. Also in 1913, Ingersoll-Rand purchased the J. George Leyner Engineering Works Company which had already developed a small, hammer type drill called the “jackhammer” that one man could operate. Ingersoll-Rand started producing jackhammers which soon became a popular item.
Many changes and products have been introduced by Ingersoll-Rand through the years. The company has also acquired many other companies to expand and compliment its line of tools. In 1995, Ingersoll-Rand acquired the Clark Equipment Company to improve the construction related lines. Today, some of Ingersoll-Rand’s competitors are Caterpillar Inc., Emerson Electric Company and York International Corporation. In 2008, the company acquired Trane Inc. which is a global leader in indoor climate control systems.
Ingersoll-Rand has a large and diverse line of products and has maintained a solid and strong business strategy. Because of this, the company is better prepared to withstand economic downturns and continue to make progress in the future. Ingersoll-Rand supplies industrial products to transportation, manufacturing, construction and agricultural businesses. Some of the products that they provide are refrigeration, biometric security systems, medium and large-scale air compressors and compact construction vehicles.
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