Oliver G. Kipp, a trained machinist from Illinois, invents the mechanical force-feed lubricator based on his original valveless pumping principle. He and his partners establish the O.G. Manufacturing Company in Rochelle, Illinois to produce and sell his invention. The new lubricator is a major improvement over previous products, allowing for automatic lubrication of steam cylinders in farm tractors and power units.
The fledgling company merges with the Mason Lubricator Company to become the Mason-Kipp Manufacturing Company, and all operations move to Madison, Wisconsin – the company’s present base of operations. Oliver Kipp passes unexpectedly in 1904, and a year later the company’s name changes again to the Madison-Kipp Lubricator Co.
Thomas A. Coleman, a company employee, becomes President in 1908. In 1914, Coleman and his family assume ownership of the company, and later change its name to Madison-Kipp Corporation in 1919.
During T.A. Coleman’s tenure, Madison-Kipp becomes the world’s largest manufacturer of machine lubricators, controlling 60 percent of the U.S. market. In 1917, two-thirds of all steam and gasoline farm tractors made in the U.S. are equipped with Kipp parts.
During World War I, Madison-Kipp contributes to the war effort in various ways. The company produces parts for tractors used by the Allies on the battlefield. Madison-Kipp employees aid the war cause financially by purchasing war bonds at one of the highest rates for an organization in Wisconsin. Management plays a major role in the local war industries boar, while dozens of employees leave the company for military service.
Thomas A. Coleman dies and his son, Thomas E. Coleman, succeeds him as President of Madison-Kipp. Under T.E. Coleman’s leadership, Madison-Kipp greatly increases its sales of mechanical lubricators and becomes a pioneer in die casting.
During the Great Depression, Madison-Kipp not only survives but continues to innovate and set industry standards. MKC unveils the first real high-speed pneumatic air grinder in 1930, which is very successful in the marketplace. Beginning in 1932, the company forges a partnership with Ford to provide carbertour castings for their new line of eight cylinder cars. Four years later, The Industrial Press publishes a book on die casting standards. Several of the processes and machines outlined in the1936 book were originally developed by Madison-Kipp.
Madison-Kipp aids the U.S. war effort during WWII by producing machinery and parts for ordnance production. For example, MKC receives wide recognition as a top producer of mortar fin castings. In March 1944, the company receives the Army-Navy “E” Award, a citation given to the top five percent of companies involved in wartime production.
With the wartime draft, hundreds of MKC employees leave for military service. Several former employees play major roles in U.S. combat operations, with a few making the ultimate sacrifice for their country. In their stead, women play a major role in continuing factory operations during the war years, a trend that sweeps through many production facilities at the time.
MKC transitions toward aluminum die casting for toy car manufacturing in 1946, with the decline in demand for war materials. However, the company continues to make mortar castings in some capacity for the government through the Korean War. During the 1950’s, the three principal products that MKC manufactures are mechanical lubricators, zinc and aluminum die casting, and high-speed air grinders.
The family tradition at MKC continues as J. Reed Coleman becomes President following his father’s death in 1964. Reed Coleman leads Madison-Kipp into the modern era and oversees dramatic changes for the next three decades.
The 1970’s and 1980’s see major technological advancements in company operations. In 1976, the company brings in the first industrial robot on the production floor for automation of the die casting process. In 1980, Madison-Kipp installs a computer to improve its production-planning system. At the end of the decade, MKC constructs a plant on South Fair Oaks in Madison, and begins to implement squeeze cast techniques in die casts.
During the late 1980’s and 1990’s, Madison-Kipp strengthens its commitment to environmental sustainability and serving the local community. For example, in 1988, Madison-Kipp is the primary funding source for the restoration of the Atwood Cinema into the Barrymore Performing Arts Center. On the environmental front, the company establishes energy-conserving molten metal delivery systems in the 1990’s, while recycling also becomes part of the production process.
In 2006, the company announces plans to expand operations into Sun Prairie, renovating an old factory into a modern, world-class facility at 1655 Corporate Center Drive.
Madison-Kipp completes a $3.5 million investment to expand the Sun Prairie plant by 90,000 sq. ft. The company is also awarded American Axle & Manufacturing’s 2016 Supplier Excellence Award.
Today, under the direction of current President and CEO Tony Koblinski, Madison-Kipp Corporation continues to be a leader in die castings and subassemblies from its three world-class facilities in Madison and Sun Prairie. While always looking to the present and future to serve employees, customers and the local community, MKC is proud to look back at its rich history and preserve it for future generations.
PineBridge Investments acquire Madison-Kipp
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