In the Beginning: 1852-1928
Steam power’s profound effect on mechanization drove the industrial revolution and radically advanced the capabilities of contemporary civilization. However, the development came at a high cost as frequent explosions due to failed components wreaked havoc on facilities and equipment as well as personnel.
In response to the growing need for more reliable ways to measure and control pressure, inventor Edward Ashcroft of Lynn, Massachusetts began to conceive new component designs to improve the safety of systems. While showing his wares at a London exhibit in 1851, Ashcroft met French inventor Eugene Bourdon who was demonstrating his own invention for a pressure gauge actuated by a metallic curved tube designed to consistently deflect under pressure. Edward Ashcroft was so impressed with the gauge design that within a year, he acquired the patent rights to produce the French “Bourdon tube” gauge in the U.S., and by 1852 had founded the Ashcroft Manufacturing Company. In America, this technologically superior pressure indicator would become know simply as the “Ashcroft Gauge”. An advanced version of this basic design is still produced by Ashcroft today, as well as by nearly every other pressure gauge manufacturer.
In 1879, Ashcroft had formed another company to produce improved-design safety valves. In 1880, with his business well established, 61 year old Edward Ashcroft sold his controlling interest in the companies to the partnership on Henry S. Manning, Eugene, L. Maxwell and Charles A. Moore. The new company, Manning, Maxwell and Moore Inc. (MMM), soon expanded its product line to include tools and other types of measuring and recording devices. Despite the new company moniker, “Ashcroft” would endure as the measurement product’s permanent brand name.
In the early part of the 20th century, MMM further diversified its product offering through the acquisitions of other industrial companies. As history would record, much of MMM’s success during this period was due to their star salesman, the celebrated “Diamond Jim” Brady (James Buchanan Brady), who was promoted to vice president in 1912. By 1928, MMM’s multiplicity as a sizeable industrial conglomerate would make the company an integral supplier to a wide variety of industries both in the United States and abroad.
1852 Edward Ashcroft acquired patent rights to produce Bourdon tubes
1852 Ashcroft Manufacturing Company is founded
1879 Ashcroft founds Consolidated Safety Valve
1880 Edward Ashcroft sells his controlling shares of all businesses to Manning, Maxwell and Moore
Keeping up with the Times: 1929-1949
While internal combustion engines and electrification took the place of steam as a primary mode of power, modernization of other industries furthered the requirement for reliable pressure instrumentation. Construction of water processing facilities, wastewater treatment plants and the mass-productions of food products for a rapidly expanding population created new markets for Ashcroft products. In the early 1940’s, an overwhelming spike in orders resulted from the urgent need to build thousands of merchant and naval vessels for the national defense initiative.
During this period, MMM further developed the Ashcroft gauge, introducing the phenolic gauge case in 1929 and then incorporating it into the revolutionary Ashcroft Duragauge® for process industries in 1934. A year later, Ashcroft was the first to offer a pressure test gauge in the accuracy of ±0.25% of full span.
1929 Introduced first phenolic gauge housing
1934 First to offer ±0.25% FS test gauge
A New Corporation: 1950-1974
By 1950, the petroleum industry was “booming” under the weight of a growing need to fuel automobiles, homes, and industry. Ashcroft gauges quickly became a staple in oil fields, refineries, gas wells and distribution facilities as well as petrochemical plants. As the Company’s business continued to grow, so did the need for floor space. In 1951, MMM moved their primary manufacturing and corporate offices from Bridgeport, Connecticut to a larger, more modern facility in Stratford, Connecticut.
Established as a leading oilfield supplier and with the original owners long passed, Manning, Maxwell and Moore Inc. became an attractive acquisition target for larger companies attempting to grow and diversify along the fringes of their core business. In 1964, oilfield giant Dresser Industries purchased the company, forming a new unit under the name “Valve and Instrument Division”. Throughout the 1970’s, Dresser looked to embellish this new division through the acquisition of other small domestic instrument companies. In 1974, the Heise Bourdon Tube Company in Newtown, Connecticut was added to the fold. Known for large, high precision pressure gauges, Heise was an important brand in the American rocket programs, submarines and nuclear power.
1951 Moved world headquarters to Stratford, Connecticut
1954 Introduction of bimetal thermometers
1961 Introduction of media isolation seals and pressure switches
1964 Manning, Maxwell and Moore acquired by Dresser Industries
1973 Heise Bourdon Tube Company acquired
1973 Introduction of first (electro-mechanical) precision digital pressure indicator
Globalization and New Technology: 1975-1997
With the influence and resources of Dresser Industries, the Instrument Division accelerated efforts toward global expansion. In the mid-seventies, gauge manufacturer Manometros Willy of Sao Paolo Brazil, was acquired and Dresser Instruments Europe S.A., a new manufacturing operation, was established in Baesweiler, Germany. By 1982, assembly operation were opened in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, and in 1990 a cooperative agreement was established with Japanese instrument technology leader Nagano Keiki, foreshadowing a much more significant relationship.
The Instrument Division grew further with the purchase of Weksler Instruments in 1995. A competitor to Ashcroft, Weksler provided a line of thermometers as well as high-shock shipboard instruments. The acquisition also opened access to new sales channels and markets.
With the advent of microchips, LED’s and LCD’s, a new breed of electronic instruments emerged. Originally pioneered at the Heise operation, the first electronic digital indicator became available in the late 1970’s, followed by transducers and other instruments. The Ashcroft line followed suite, eventually introducing a complete line of transducers, digital gauges and electronic pressure switches.
1975 Acquired Manometros Willy S.A. of Sao Paolo, Brazil
1977 Established Dresser Instruments Europe S.A. in Baesweiler, Germany
1978 Introduction of electronic digital indicators and transducers
1981 “Valve and Instrument Division” is split into separate divisions
1982 Established operation in Singapore and joint venture in Al-Rushaid Investment Company Ltd Saudi Arabia
1987 Introduced first Ashcroft® branded pressure transducer
1990 Cooperative agreement is established with Japanese instrument manufacturer Nagano Keiki
1995 Acquired Weksler Instruments
1995 Heise introduced handheld calibrator
Strategic Alliances: 1998-2013
In 1998, Dresser Industries was acquired by Halliburton for the purpose of enhancing their offering with several of Dresser’s established oilfield service operations. With little desire to operate other Dresser companies that did not meet their core business requirements, Halliburton grouped the “non-oilfield essential”, collection of remaining companies and in 2001 spun them off as the new “Dresser Inc”. The instrument division was included in that group. With corporate diversification no longer in vogue, the disconnected group of companies within Dresser Inc. were each seeking a strategic alliance with a prospective buyer from their respective industry. In 2006, the Nagano Keiki Corporation of Japan, who had already established a cooperative agreement with Ashcroft, purchased the instrument group for Dresser Inc. and reestablished it as “Ashcroft Inc.”, an American company (with a Japanese parent). Shortly after, Ashroft Inc. extended its global reach by opening a manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China and establishing a joint venture in India.
1998 Dresser is acquired by Halliburton
1998 Developments in Ashcroft gauges, including PLUS!™ Performance™, Duratube™, FlutterGuard™, PowerFlex™ movement and True Zero™
2001 Halliburton spins-off Ashcroft and other companies as Dresser Inc.
2006 Ashcroft is acquired by strategic partner Nagano Keiki of Japan, becomes Ashcroft Inc.
2007 Ashcroft Inc. opens manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China
2008 Formed joint venture Ashcroft India Pvt. Ltd. In Chatral , India
The Legacy Continues: 2014-Today
From humble beginning, Ashcroft has grown to be recognized as a world leader in pressure and temperature instrumentation. Our legacy of continuous customer satisfaction is based on steadfast commitment to quality, performance and reliability that started with Edward Ashcroft over 160 years ago.
Ashcroft continues to introduce new, state-of-the-art instruments designed to meet our customer’s requirements and expand the use of Ashcroft products into new industries and applications. We live by our core values, we “think customer first” and we dedicated our efforts to protecting our customer’s people, processes and profits.