On May 11, 1880, an inventor from Michigan named Solomon Robert Dresser rented shop space in the center of Bradford and opened the doors of his new company — S. R. Dresser Manufacturing Co. The same day, the patent on his new and improved packer named the “Cap Packer” was granted, kick-starting the growth of his company, which was founded to serve the needs of the burgeoning United States oilfields in Pennsylvania and beyond.
Five years later, he developed a flexible coupling, known as the Dresser Joint, which connected pipes together in such a way as to prevent the leakage of natural gas. With oil exploration still in its infancy in the late 1880s, early prospectors had until this point lacked any suitable mechanism to capture the natural gas that was unearthed alongside their oil. Consequently, the gas would either be flared or allowed to dissipate into the environment. The Dresser Joint, therefore, represented a revolutionary piece of technology for the oilfield. Suddenly, the long-range transmission of natural gas from the gas fields where it was extricated to the energy-hungry cities that consumed it was possible for the first time in history. And S. R. Dresser Manufacturing Co. began to grow.
In 1928, the company went public, and after successfully weathering the Great Crash of 1929, celebrated its 50th anniversary on May 11, 1930. In the following decades, the company would successfully maintain various incarnations of the original Dresser name and its key identity as the provider of the celebrated and renowned Dresser coupling, while undergoing multiple mergers and acquisitions.
In 1998, Halliburton Co. and Dresser Industries Inc. announced a $7.7 billion merger to create an oilfield services and engineering and construction company with the broadest range of services to the petroleum industry worldwide. In 2011, the company was sold to GE and in 2018 the global private equity investment firm First Reserve took ownership. Today, Dresser Natural Gas Solutions (NGS) is a global original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of commercial and industrial natural gas meters and pipeline repair products for the gas distribution utility, midstream and petrochemical industries and has more than 43 registered trademarks and over 100 active patents or patent filings around the world. Today, Dresser NGS is celebrating its 140-year anniversary and looking back on its growth from a one-man company to a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
Joe Tarszowicz is the vice president of operations at Dresser Pipeline Solutions, a division of Dresser NGS that has always maintained its roots in Bradford, where the company began. Today, it occupies a facility on 41 Fisher Ave., which was purpose-built for Dresser in 1907.
He says, “Dresser truly paved the way for a natural gas infrastructure across the United States. 140 years on, many improvements in design, and advances in pipe joining repair and pressure control technology have been achieved, but essentially we are still producing those original pipe couplings, which have become synonymous with quality and durability. We’re proud that today, a “Dresser coupling” is widely considered to be the gold standard in pipe couplings.”
The Dresser Pipeline Solutions plant in Bradford specializes in modern, precision manufacturing and continuous, exacting quality control, which makes the company a leading supplier of high performance pipeline products supplying a variety of couplings, fittings, valves, repair clamps, integrity repair sleeves, and service connectors for a range of pipeline industry applications. Employing in the region of 200 employees, mostly from the Bradford area, many of the workers share their workplace with other family members and a significant number of people have accumulated many decades of loyal service to the company. “We strive to ensure that Dresser Pipeline Solutions maintains its reputation of a good place to work in the heart of the Bradford community,” said Tarszowicz, “so we make sure we regularly give back. We organize participation in community fundraising events such as March of Dimes, United Way, sponsoring local athletic teams, and the Annual Willow Creek Triathlon, which raises money for local veterans.”
So just how does a company maintain such a remarkable longevity? Tarszowicz explained, “Because our core product was instrumental in the earliest stages of the natural gas distribution industry, we consequently have had a number of the same customers for 50 or more years. During this time, we have worked hard to build and nurture solid client relationships. Today, more than ever, we pride ourselves on the quality and reliability of our products, our high standard of communication with clients, our investment in upgraded and new technology and excellent customer service. Every day we work to provide the best possible piping products, alongside new product technology that will be needed to meet energy market requirements throughout the next 140 years.”