EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of a series, Manufacturing Matters, that focuses on products that are made in Richland County. Throughout the story italicized sections tell how you might be affected by Gorman-Rupp pumps in your daily life.
MANSFIELD -- Gorman-Rupp's impact reaches well beyond the 500 “Pump People” who clock-in to work at one of the three Richland County locations.
In fact, the lives of people all over the world would be different without Gorman-Rupp pumps. The international company, headquartered at 600 S. Airport Road, ships its pumps to about 140 countries. It has manufacturing and distribution facilities located in the United States, Europe, Africa and elsewhere.
Other Richland County locations are at 302 W. 6th St in Mansfield and 180 Hines Ave. in Bellville.
When you go grocery shopping, you find fresh produce waiting for you in the aisles. But before that fresh food gets to your fingertips, it’s grown in a farmer’s field. On dry days, irrigation systems keep the crops growing, providing them with the water they need.
Gorman-Rupp, a company founded in the Great Depression era, sells pumps that are used for irrigation.
Founded in 1933, Gorman-Rupp was literally born in a barn.
Two unemployed entrepreneurs, J.C. Gorman and H.E. Rupp, shook hands in Mansfield and pooled $1,500 to start building pumps.
“The way the story goes is: Mr. Gorman said to Mr. Rupp, ‘If you can make it, I can sell it,’” Vice President Scott King said.
The two moved the company into Rupp’s barn, and the product took off. They made more than $345,000 in sales by 1939.
In the 1950’s, the company began a specialty pump division in Bellville. The Gorman-Rupp Industries Division sells pumps that can typically fit in the palm of someone’s hand. These pumps are used as components within other manufacturers’ larger pieces of equipment like laboratory analyzers, ice makers and fuel cells.
The multi-national company now takes up more than one million square feet of space and manufactures more than 4,000 different pump models.
Some of its growth is through acquisitions. The company acquired Patterson Pumps in the late 1980s. It acquired a company that it renamed Gorman-Rupp of Europe in 2007 and another company that was renamed Gorman-Rupp of Africa in 2012.
Gorman-Rupp is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, but the Gorman family is still involved. Jeff Gorman, a third-generation Gorman, serves as President and CEO. His father, Jim Gorman, serves as Chairman of the Board.
Now more than 90-years-old, Jim Gorman still shows up to work most days.
Rupp’s children went on to found other companies of their own.
For instance, Warren Rupp began manufacturing air-operated double acting diaphragm pumps, and Mickey Rupp’s companies made go karts, mini bikes, snowmobiles, and fishing equipment.
Next time you drive along Ohio 13 in Mansfield, watch out your window as you go under the bridge at U.S. 30. You may notice that a little tan building sits on a concrete pedestal.
“The whole purpose of that is for a Gorman-Rupp flood-control station that keeps that intersection underneath the bridge dry when it rains,” said King.
But Gorman-Rupp is also involved in much larger flood-control projects. Patterson Pumps, a company acquired by Gorman-Rupp, provides pumps for the Permanent Canal Closure Project (PCCP) in New Orleans.
Perhaps some of Jim Gorman’s enthusiasm rubs off on the company’s employees.
In Gorman-Rupp headquarters, a wall features the names and photos of all Richland County employees who’ve been with the company for 25 or more years.
Last updated in 2016, the wall now includes 517 employees. Some families already have up to three generations on the wall. King pointed out a few.
“We are very fortunate,” he said. “I hope the answer is that we treat employees well. They want to be here.
“It’s not uncommon for people to retire from us with 40 plus years of service."
When you wash your hands, flush the toilet or take a shower, you may rarely think about where it goes once its down the drain. But surely, you’d notice if it wasn’t for Gorman-Rupp pumps, which are used to handle sewage in many municipalities, both in and outside of Richland County.
But that’s only the beginning. Gorman-Rupp also manufactures pumps for fire protection, construction, petroleum and more.
“Part of Gorman-Rupp’s advantage is when some markets are strong they make up for other parts that are weak,” King said.
Fire protection pumps are often found near factories and high-rise buildings. The pumps spring into action if a fire erupts.
“In a lot of ways, they just sit quietly waiting for a fire,” King said.
Along the Rover Pipeline project, several Gorman-Rupp pumps are used to keep sites dry. Jets at the Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport are refueled using Gorman-Rupp petroleum pumps.
“There’s a pump on the bottom of a truck that pumps it into the airplane,” King said, briefly explaining the process.
The company’s pumps have even been featured on the Discovery Channel’s "Gold Rush." They are used to separate gold from the rocks.
At Gorman-Rupp, pumps are always the focus, even if they are used in very different industries. They train employees to design, build, send and service their products.