The Ridgid Legacy

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Updated: January 31, 2020

In 1923 RIDGID introduced the modern pipe wrench to the world.

They are now global manufacturers of more than 300 dependable and innovative tools, trusted by tradies in 100+ countries, none more so than in Australia. Used in commercial, industrial and energy markets, RIDGID products help install and maintain our infrastructure with greater certainty and efficiency.

Business Talk

Let’s begin by taking a look at the evolution of RIDGID as a business. Ridge Tool Company first started out of Ohio, USA. Company founder Carl Ingwer used their innovative take on the pipe wrench as a springboard to develop, test, produce and market a whole range of dependable and rugged hand tools with the user in mind.

By the early 1940s the Ridge Tool Company had established itself as an industry leader and made the move to their current headquarters in Elyria, Ohio, where they continue to house state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, corporate offices, training grounds and a factory service centre.

At the end of World War II Ridge Tool Company began exporting their first range of RIDGID products overseas. Their tools were used by trade professionals all across Europe to help rebuild the battle-torn infrastructure.

The business’s growth and continued success both at home and abroad saw a new sales and manufacturing facility launch in Belgium in 1964. Two years later, in a monumental shift forward, the company became a subsidiary of one of the biggest corporations in the world, Emerson Electric Company. The partnership opened the door for the RIDGID brand, affording them increased investment in research and development and enabling them to expand with a plethora of new products aimed at previously untapped markets.

With a new power and vigour behind them, RIDGID further broadened their horizons as they progressed full-throttle into the 21st Century. They acquired a cache of businesses, from The Kollmann Company, which immediately cemented them as the go-to specialists in drain cleaning equipment, through to Pennsylvanian iron factory, Urick Foundry, which allowed them to control their manufacturing quality and improve efficiencies. They opened more international sales and manufacturing facilities in Brazil, Ireland, China and Romania, more distribution centres in Mexico Singapore and Australia.

Product Progression

It all started with the distinctive red pipe wrench. From the outset it was always the aim of RIDGID to provide the strongest, most effective and affordable tools for professional tradespeople. They wanted their innovative products to be there in severe conditions, for the toughest of jobs. With this in mind, they began developing more manual pipe and tube hand tools in the 1930s that helped catapult the brand.

Around this time hand threading pipe proved to be a tedious task, so in the late ’40s and into the ’50s RIDGID brought out their revolutionary range of electric, portable power drives that turned the material while hand-held tools cut, reamed and threaded the pipe. This eventuated in the patented RIDGID Speed Chuck bolt threading machine, which became the benchmark and industry standard for over 40 years.

Drain cleaning tools proved to be a natural progression for RIDGID, and with the acquisition of the Kollmann Company in 1967, they had the market covered straight out of the gate and were soon adding their own unique drainage tools to the quiver of plumbers and tradies.

Never forgetting their roots, the company also manufactured its first aluminum handle wrench in 1969. This gave users a more lightweight option that was ideal for overhead and tight-quarter situations. At almost half the weight to comparable pipe wrenches, the product still carries the same guarantee as RIDGID Heavy-Duty pipe wrenches.

With technology moving at a rapid rate, the late ’90s saw some major advancements for RIDGID and with it boundless benefits for their strong legion of loyal fans; plumbing diagnostic tools and digital underground location equipment became a focus, while wet/dry vacuums were also added to their catalogue.

In 1999 RIDGID introduced its first pressing tool. Their technology is attributed to revolutionising the way copper, stainless steel, PEX and multi-layer tubing connections are joined, and since then they have been the world leader in the field.

By 2007 camera technology allowed them to launch their SeeSnake® microReel so everyday tradies could finally have access to high-tech inspection capabilities. The video system is small in size, incredibly manoeuvrable, yet has an economical price tag.

The advent of RIDGID’s Press Snap™ tool in 2008 suddenly made cutting cast iron soil pipes a whole lot easier.

RIDGID Australia’s Product Manager, Drew Helmore, listed their current, major product ranges as Pipe Inspection and Location; Pressing, Drain Cleaning; Threading and Pipe Fabrication;Wrenches and Tubing Tools; and Utility and Electrician Tools.

“RIDGID is a leading innovator in its served markets, having developed and launched numerous new-to-world technologies over its history,” Drew summarised. “We sell RIDGID-branded tools and services that exceed the high expectations of expert tradespeople.

We have a dynamic, collaborative, growth-oriented culture that creates solutions tailored to address specific needs of these most demanding end users.”

Technology And Beyond

Since day one RIDGID has always been forward-thinking not only in their patented designs and the engineered-products they create, but also in the technology they use. The company first set their website live during the dot-com boom in the late ’90s. Today the site is not only a source for product news and information, but also allows professionals to connect and network online.

In 2008 they launched RIDGIDConnect™ – a web-based app that helps professionals streamline their paperwork and customer data so they can more effectively communicate with clients. From there they opened RIDGID Software Solutions – a software development studio dedicated to creating unique and dynamic applications designed specifically to empower tradespeople to do their jobs more efficiently.

RIDGID Continues To Break New Ground With New Technology.

“RIDGID is always developing product technology with the aim of helping professional tradespersons get the job done right,” continued Drew. “Take for instance our camera monitors.

A couple of years ago we added Wi-Fi to our underground camera line inspection monitors. This means a plumber can connect his or her phone to their monitor using Wi-Fi. That means they can see the image from their camera down the drain and then show their customer what the problem is.”

RIDGID products are sold in Australia through a national network of distributors.

While their elite tools are unsurpassable, it’s still the customer that’s top of mind for this iconic brand.

“We have an internal sales team to respond to customers’ needs,” explained Drew, who’s been with RIDGID Australia for over 15 years. “And our external sales team calls on customers in the field to demonstrate our products. Our products are purpose built for professionals, so much of our research and development and testing involves the professionals who use our products.”

Because they are so well-trusted, millions of RIDGID tools go to work every day on construction sites and in countless other harsh environments. Their trademarked slogan really does ring true, RIDGID is “Built For Those That Know”.

For more information see http://ridgid.com/au/en