Semler Industries has a history that can be traced to our founding in 1905. Applying our 100+ years of business experience with more than half of those concentrated in the fluid handling and purification arena, enables Semler to provide our customers with solutions to help them optimize their processes with customized systems and service, and ancillary products and equipment. A brief overview of the history of Semler Industries Inc. and its distinct competencies has been provided so that you begin to understand the unique capabilities Semler offers.
The Company evolved from a four-story building located at the corner of Kedzie and Carroll Avenues in Chicago. It was built during the time of the First World War, (1917-1918) by a firm called Metal Specialties Manufacturing Company. This firm was first incorporated in 1905 and manufactured harness hardware for horse and buggy; actually, buggy whip holders. At one point, during the early days, Metal Specialties owned and operated a concession at what is now known as Wrigley Field. Depositing a nickel into the appropriate slot allowed a spectator to sit comfortably on a seat and enjoy the ball game.
During WWI the Company was heavily involved in the manufacture of war materials; particularly, shell casings. After the War, they began to manufacture a wide variety of metal products as well as gummed sealing tape. This was the latest in ad print; allowing the store owner to actually advertise his establishment on the printed tape. These were the days when a scoop of sugar, coffee, or flour was put into a brown bag, weighed and the top then sealed with a piece of water- soluble gummed tape.
In the late 1920’s, the Company manufactured paint spray guns, a small vacuum cleaner and some products for automobiles. There was an emphasis on flashy, marketed automotive products like “Lena Mix Gas Saver” and “Glow Bob Gas Saver”. The Company also made the first dash board mounted cigar lighter, stop signal switches, under the hood electric engine heaters, visors, engine lights, head and tail lamps and sockets. These were sold to automakers like Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford and Oldsmobile and for some cars, long out of production, like the Auburn, Hudson, Nash, Stutz, Willys-Knight and the ever- popular Wolverine.
Loren H. Semler, Sr. went to work for Metal Specialties in 1931 when their Speedo Byke hit the market. They also developed roller skates with rubber wheels, manufactured aluminum frying pans, vacuum cleaners and food dehydrators, and aluminum snow shovels and sleds.
In 1933, at the height of the Depression, Loren H. Semler, Sr. purchased Metal Specialties Manufacturing Company and it was in 1939, under his guidance, that the Company first introduced the small pocket and desk size staplers under the trademark “Presto”. The Company had been losing money up to then and he turned things around with the introduction of these office products; subsequently leading to a merger with another company of similar capabilities during the 1940’s and the name of the Company was changed to Loren Specialty Manufacturing Company Inc.
With the start of the new decade, 1940 became a time when all domestic production was stopped and Loren Specialty was 100% under government contract making materials for WWII. E-S Machine Gun Synchronizer, which timed the firing of a machine gun bullets between the spinning propeller blades on aircraft, was one of the company’s projects. The government had design problems with the E-S though, because as the gears wore down, the timing would change causing the pilot to shoot off his own propeller. Loren Specialty also manufactured the 50 caliber machine gun recoil mechanisms, when aircraft guns were wing mounted. Nose cones for shells, booby traps and distress signals for the Navy were among the other products assigned to the Company. Company historians told stories of rumored Nazi attempts to sabotage production by bombing the factory – stopped just in time by U.S. officials. While the truth of these stories is unknown it certainly is interesting to consider.
With the end of the War, the Company resumed manufacture of the Presto line of products; paper punches, staplers, staple removers, and card files and in 1947 Meyer-Ekstrom was merged into Loren Specialty bringing new products to sell. This was the forerunner of what became the first operating group called “Hydraulics/Pneumatics”. Today, Semler still offer components whose roots began in this group, but the operating group itself was operationally merged into today’s current groups.
In 1953, the Melrose Park plant was built at 1975 Cornell Avenue. Here, the Company introduced the first electric eraser for pencil and ink pens.
In 1962, Blott Robb Company was purchased and the Presto line of products was sold. Blott Robb was the forerunner of today’s Liquid Handling Group. The Company made high pressure valves and rows of punch presses and burnishing machines made metal shearstrips which used air pressure to blast coal away from the walls in mining operations. A much safer alternative to dynamite.
In 1967, the Company made the move from Melrose Park to our current Franklin Park location where our job shop manufactured “Dispenso-Pak” aircraft refueling cabinets allowing the salespeople to sell a pump, meter, filter, hose reel, hose, and nozzle all together.
Finally, in 1971, Loren Specialty (formerly known as Metal Specialties), Meyer-Ekstrom and Blott Robb merged to become Semler Industries Inc. At this time, new filter product lines were added to expand business and this developed into our third group, Fluid Purification. At that time, Loren H. Semler, Jr. (the eldest son of Loren H. Semler, Sr.) became President of Semler Industries Inc.
In 1973, the first Potable Water Cabinets (PWC’s) were designed and sold to United Airlines. This design was enhanced in the late 80’s and Semler built and provided 97 cabinets for the ORD United Airlines Terminal Expansion. Since then, the “Semler Potable Water Cabinet” has been the industry leader for the ground support industry; providing cabinets worldwide. Over the life of this product, currently still being sold, unique features were incorporated such as the Patented and Registered Trade Marked “IntelliFlush®”. This unit prevents bacterial growth, due to stagnant water in the hose and water lines inside the PWC’s..
In 1974, the Company used the knowledge and experience of its three operating groups to create the first waste ink recovery system for the newspaper industry. The first system was sold to the Milwaukee Journal. This evolved into our fourth operating group, Graphic Arts.
In 1975, Jeffrey K. Semler, Sr. (Loren H. Semler Sr.’s youngest son), joined Semler Industries and served in several capacities until 2007 when he retired early as the Company’s Vice-President.
In March of 1980, our founder, Loren H. Semler, Sr. passed away but his influence, integrity, and teachings remain alive in the culture of Semler Industries today. You’ll still find his hand-written notes on several of the Company’s historical records.
In 1982, Semler developed the Sentinel Fuel Unloading System designed for the railroad industry for off-loading their shipments of diesel fuel. This system incorporated some rather unique features and it is still being sold today.
In 1986, Sentry Tank Accessories was purchased and merged into Semler Industries, expanding Semler’s offering to include storage tank ventilation equipment and accessories. Sentry Tank’s product offerings are sold as part of our Liquid Handling group’s inventory.
1988, Semler Industries was selected as an equipment supplier for Rockwell International for their Color Liner newspaper press. Sold throughout the United States, Canada and South America; originally, this included a water purification system and a dampner recirculation system. Later, other ancillary support systems were designed and sold to Rockwell; i.e., the dampner concentrate supply system, electric ink vacuums, dampner regulator assemblies and water regulator assemblies to name a few. Also in 1988, Katherine (Semler) Felton, (Loren H. Semler Jr.’s eldest daughter) joined the company as Manager of Information Systems.
In 1989, the Company developed the SemFlex Ink Washwater Recovery System for flexographic ink; the first system of its kind to recycle and allow reuse of print ink. This system was eventually patented and trade marked and sold nationwide to major newspapers using flexographic ink.
In 1992 Semler started on the renovation of 13 Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus garages; providing them with liquid handling equipment. These designs included miscellaneous fluid unloading systems, diesel and oil dispensers to be used at the “islands”, skids for the diesel fuel, dispensers and pumps for various products such as anti-freeze, soap concentrate, grease and various motor oils and waste liquid equipment for used anti-freeze and motor oil.
In 1996, Loren W. Semler ,(Loren H. Semler Jr’s only son), joined the Company as “Project Specialist” and was tasked with over-seeing and coordinating all the company’s work-in-process jobs.
It was in 1999 that the first water filling nozzle was designed for the airline industry for potable water. The initial sale was to American Airlines.
2000 started the decade of strict EPA and FDA Regulations for the airline industry for the water quality of their onboard drinking water. Our President, Loren H. Semler took part in some of the sessions that the EPA held in Washington, D.C. and as a result, Semler designed and built the first piece of equipment of its kind, the AWOCS™ or Aircraft Water Ozone Cleaning System designed to use ozone as a sanitizing agent. This system was first sold in 2006 to a regional air carrier and later to major airlines.
Over the years, our Fluid Purification and Liquid Handling Groups have assisted our customer in creating systems such as the Turbine Oil Flushing System, sold to major utilities; the Drum Filling System sold to the chemical industry for packaging; water sterilization systems provided to manufacturers of food product cans; and drum testing systems for leak testing of 55 gallon drums, etc.
Today, having become a recognized leader in the industrial filtration and liquid handling industry providing custom solutions for varied filtration and liquid handling, both domestically and internationally, Semler continues to provide unique filtration technology to industry with a need for removing impurities in a liquid or gas stream. The company manufactures both custom designed and proprietary liquid handling systems and equipment for specific industry applications which include the movement, metering, blending, and transfer of fluids, i.e., water, oils, inks, paints, chemicals, solvents; etc. Our systems find applications in diverse industry, i.e., food and beverage (chocolate and bottled water), pharmaceutical (diagnostics and heat transfer fluids), chemical (polymers and resins), petroleum refining (naphtha and distillates), printing (ink and blanket solutions), and the transportation (fuel unloading and potable water) industry. Semler Industries is a preferred source that delivers strong technical support along with a commitment to service that reflects the values of a family run business and makes us a truly distinctively different Company.
On May 4, 2009, Loren H. Semler, Jr. became Chairman of the Board, Loren W. Semler became the Fifth President, Katherine E. Felton became Senior Vice President, and Joseph M. Palm became Vice President of Plant Operations. Semler also enjoys the distinction of having several of its employees span a career of over 50 years with our Company.