In the News

Convenience & Carwash Canada

From Cincinnati Startup to Global Leader: OPW at 125 Years

1920 OPW Manufacturing Plant

By Keith Moye

OPW 125th logoOhio was recently ranked as the best U.S. state for startups by Forbes and Cincinnati was named the country’s 16th-best city for entrepreneurial endeavors. And 125 years ago, Cincinnati, OH, was the place where two entrepreneurs invested less than $400 to launch a company that has grown to become a global leader in its field.

Founded in 1892 as the Ohio Pattern Works & Foundry Company, OPW has been leading the way in the development of fluid-handling solutions worldwide for 125 years. Today, the OPW brand is universally renowned for innovation and setting the industry standard for quality, safety, reliability and performance. In fact, OPW is specified by more fluid-handling operations around the world than any other brand.

With a passionate focus on the safety of people and the environment, OPW has developed innovative patents and products that optimize the operations of businesses across the globe. Divided into four sectors, these are the globally known brands that make up OPW at 125:

1959 Screw Assembly Line

Chemical & Industrial

  • OPW Engineered Systems
  • Liquip Fluid Transfer Group


  • Midland Railcar Products
  • Civacon Tank Truck Products

Vehicle Wash Systems

  • PDQ Vehicle Wash Systems

Retail Fueling

  • OPW Retail Fueling
  • Fibrelite Composite Access Covers


Collectively, OPW has earned countless patents and has a global footprint that includes sales offices on six continents, manufacturing operations in North America, South America, Asia and Europe, and more than 1,000 distributors worldwide.

The Evolution of a Global Leader

Victor E. Tressie and Joseph E. Hausfeld founded the Ohio Pattern Works & Foundry Company in 1892 with a collective investment of $390. It was the first shop in Cincinnati to make both wood and metal patterns for everything from grave markers to oil valves.

In 1904, driven by the rise in popularity of the automobile, Tresise and Hausfeld made the strategic decision to focus the efforts of their company on the petroleum industry. Their first office was built in the same year on Spring Grove Avenue in Cincinnati.

3rd PEI Bob Sherman Loading Arm Demo

The company’s first brass foundry was opened in 1907 to produce metal castings for a variety of products. After incorporating in 1916, a new facility on Colerain Avenue was completed in 1929. This new facility was built as a result of increased growth and production, and housed offices, machinery and assembly work. By now, the company had established a reputation as a leading supplier of nozzles, valves, fittings and couplings for the petroleum industry.

OPW Nozzle

The following two decades were a time of continued growth as OPW further established itself as an industry leader. Then, in 1948, G.L. Ohstrom & Associates purchased the company and changed the name to OPW Corporation. A year later, engineer Leonard. H. Duerr invented the automatic shutoff fuel-dispensing nozzle, a landmark design that remains the foundation of fuel-nozzle operation to this day.

The 1950s witnessed the expansion of the U.S. Highway System, which was a boon to the automobile industry, and OPW Corporation kept pace by continuously producing nozzles that improved and streamlined the fueling process. OPW’s accomplishments at this time eventually caught the eye of Dover Corporation (NYSE: DOV), which was focusing on diversifying its product portfolio in the 1960s. With that in mind, Dover acquired the OPW Corporation in 1961 and shortened its name to OPW. The acquisition provided the company a wide range of new resources and led to a period of accelerated growth, including the founding of OPW Dover (Europa) N.V., which allowed for the distribution of its products in Europe.

In 1976, with space increasingly tight in its existing Colerain Avenue headquarters, OPW relocated its manufacturing and office facilities to a new 250,000-square-foot complex on Princeton-Glendale Road in Hamilton, OH, just north of Cincinnati. The facility continues to serve as OPW’s global headquarters today.

OPW Plant Historic Image

International expansion continued in 1984 through a joint agreement with Brazil-based Eleven LTDA to manufacture nozzles, spill containers, check valves and overfill-prevention valves for South American fueling markets. Then, in the late 1980s, the acquisitions of POMECO (1988) and Petro Vend (1989) added to OPW’s existing lines of manholes, swivels, hose retractors and fuel-control solutions.

OPW was awarded the first-ever Manufacturer of the Year Award from the Petroleum Equipment Institute in 1990. OPW would win the award a total of six times before the award was discontinued in 2002.

The 1990s, 2000s and 2010s have also served as decades of growth for OPW, with numerous acquisitions such as United Kingdom-based Fibrelite, Sweden-based KPS and China-based Jump in 2013, along with expansions across the globe, such as a new manufacturing facility in Chennai, India.

Over the past 125 years, OPW has established a solid reputation by providing high-quality products that deliver assurance and peace of mind in the areas of safety, reliability, durability and environmental sustainability in critical fluid-handling operations.

mobil unload

Behind 125 Years of Leading the Way

OPW credits the longevity that is reflected in this landmark anniversary to the People, Partners and Products that have allowed the company to build a legacy of innovation.

Generations of Dedicated Team Members

The best companies are successful because of the efforts of great people. It’s only through the contributions over the decades of thousands of employees that have allowed the company to celebrate its landmark 125th anniversary.

Many employees have spent their entire careers at OPW. Fred Kelly, of OPW Engineered Systems, has been working at the company since 1964.

“When I started in the 1960s, I was at the Colerain Avenue facility in Cincinnati, which had the foundry,” said Kelly. “I’ve worked with some great people over the years and it’s been a great company to work for.”

It’s not only the employees that attribute success to OPW team members, but partners as well. Lydia Cowie, President of White Tucker Company, which provides services and equipment for the service-station, petrochemical and aviation- refueling markets, recognizes the impact that OPW team members have made on the success of her distributor business.

“OPW has been an integral part of our success and has always been supportive of our efforts by helping identify new marketing opportunities, partnering on promotional activities, and constantly introducing new and improved products to market for our customers,” said Cowie. “I cannot say enough good things about the employees that we’ve worked with over the years. These are truly top-notch people to deal with and we look forward to another 56 years of continued success through partnering with OPW.”

John Ellsworth, President of the John M. Ellsworth Co., a distributor of fuel-transfer pumps and service-station equipment, reflects on a symbiotic relationship with OPW that has contributed to decades of mutual success.

“Our 40-year relationship with OPW has been instrumental in helping our company grow from two employees in a home office to almost 50 employees in a 50,000-square-foot facility,” explained Ellsworth. “We consider their team members an extension of the JME family and appreciate the strong relationships we have developed with OPW employees over the years.”

Deep, fruitful relationships like these have laid the foundation for partnerships that have stood the test of time.

125 Years of Great Partnerships

No one can achieve great things without a helping hand and the same can be said for great companies. OPW recognizes that its success and longevity is a result of the great partnerships it has forged over 125 years of operation with its vast network of best-in-class channel partners, from vendors, material suppliers, distributors and, ultimately, end users.

Susan Maples, Director of Operations at RBM Company, a supplier of parts and service for the petroleum, industrial and lubrication industries, remembers growing up with OPW. Her father, Albert Bruce, co-founded the company in 1945 on principles of selling quality petroleum equipment and providing innovative services for oil bulk plants, service-station operators and industrial users, and OPW products have been a constant in RBM’s 70-plus years of success.

“OPW has always been at the heart of our business as we’ve carried OPW products ever since my Dad started RBM Company in 1945,” said Maples. “It’s truly been a great partnership as they’ve always evolved to meet the changing needs of our customers. Growing up, we always knew them as Ohio Pattern Works, so that history was instilled in us from early on.”

Mike Mortensen, Chief Operating Officer of Alaska Rubber Group, a supplier of equipment to the oil and gas, mining, fishing, timber, agriculture and marine markets, spoke about his relationship with OPW that’s spanned more than three decades.

“I’ve been working with OPW ever since I started with the Alaska Rubber Group in 1994 and it’s always been a strong partnership” said Mortensen. “We distribute many of their products and everything really is top notch. To us, OPW represents support.”

Support and customer service have been the key components in these successful relationships, but a shared vision on product development is the secret to sustained success.

OPW Team final image

Innovation over the Years

OPW’s reputation as a true innovator is built on a commitment to creating products that protect people and the environment while enabling customers to optimize their business operations. After beginning life in 1892 as a developer of wood and metal patterns, OPW has truly established itself as the world’s premier supplier of safe, efficient and environmentally sensitive equipment for use in fluid-handling operations.

Bruce Cornelius, Corporate Parts Sales Manager at Werts Welding & Tank Service, Inc., a manufacturer of tank trailers, commented on how OPW’s product innovations have been tailored to what the market needed instead of the needs of OPW.

“We’ve been working with OPW since 1980 and they have always been more responsive to what the market needs and wants, instead of what an engineer decided to make,” said Cornelius. “Other suppliers think they know what the industry wants, but OPW has people out in the field that are talking and listening before building products. There’s never a doubt that they have our best interests in mind.”

Here’s what Eric Hannay, CEO & President of Hannay Reels, a developer of hose and cable reels, had to say about how OPW and “The Reel Leader” have worked together to advance product innovation.

“When I started working at Hannay Reels back in 1993, OPW was already an important swivel-joint supplier on many of our larger hose reels,” he recalled. “We were making our own 1-1/2” swivel joints for fuel-oil customers and began looking to outsource this part to a trusted partner so we could concentrate on what we do best: building reels.”

At this time, OPW already had familiarity with the Hannay joint (“HJ”) and its engineers took the design back to the lab and figured out how to improve the swivel with several tweaks. In addition to engineering, OPW made the necessary capital investments to ensure the product could handle all the variations in inlet size, material composition and joint orientation.

“They quoted us a fair price and we have never looked back from that project,” added Hannay. “The swivel is now called the WHJ Series in honor of its mixed heritage (W for OPW and H for Hannay) and now accounts for well more than half of our business with OPW.”

Defining What’s Next

Since 1892, OPW has led the way in fluid-handling solutions worldwide. Through state-of-the-art research and development, world-class manufacturing and an unwavering commitment to quality, OPW has revolutionized fluid-handling operations. Over 1,700 OPW employees across the globe will continue this legacy of innovation.

OPW is leading the way in helping to protect the well-being of people and the environment – today, tomorrow and into the future. The company has and will continue to define what’s next as it embarks on the next 125 years of its existence.

About the Author:

Keith Moye is the VP Global Marketing for OPW, based in Cincinnati, OH, USA. He can be reached at is leading the way in fueling solutions and innovations worldwide. OPW delivers product excellence and the most comprehensive line of fueling equipment and services to retail and commercial fueling operations around the globe. For more information on OPW, please go to