Viking Pump was founded on a unique pump principle invented by Jens Nielsen, who had emigrated from Denmark to Cedar Falls, Iowa in 1870. He established a limestone quarry in 1886 at 18th and Main streets. When water seepage became a problem, he developed the first Rotary Internal Gear pump to drain the quarry. His first pump was built in 1904, and a patent application was submitted the same year.
In 1911, Nielsen joined with P.C. Petersen (a machinist), W.L. Hearst (a doctor) and George Wyth (a shoe salesman) to form the Viking Pump Company. It was so named because three of the four were of Danish descent, and they likened the first internal gear pump to the notion that the Vikings were the first European explorers of North America. In that year they manufactured fifty pumps, which generated revenues of two thousand dollars.
Starting out with two employees in space leased from a washing machine manufacturer, the new company built a 40’ x 60’ factory in 1912, and later expanded to forty employees and three buildings with a total of 12,000 square feet by 1919. The original building is incorporated into today’s 154,000 square foot downtown Cedar Falls headquarters.
Viking Pump 1912
Viking Pump, Inc. Manufacturing Plant and Iron Foundry
In 1960, Viking Pump constructed additional manufacturing space in the new Cedar Falls Industrial Park. Four subsequent expansions, including an 85,000 sq. ft. iron foundry in 1976, bring the Industrial Park manufacturing area to 405,000 square feet.
Viking Pump was acquired by Houdaille Corporation in 1968. Houdaille was bought by TI Group PLC in 1987, which in 1989 sold Viking and five other Houdaille subsidiaries to IDEX Corporation (an acronym for Innovation, Diversity and Excellence). IDEX Corporation (NYSE: IEX), is the world leader in positive displacement pumps, color formulation equipment, fire truck pumps and rescue tools, and stainless steel banding and clamping devices.
Viking Pump, Inc. World Headquarters
Viking’s 1992 acquisitions of Johnson Pump UK Ltd., a manufacturer of rotary lobe pumps, and Viking Canada, manufacturer of Vican pumps, plus construction of its Shannon, Ireland manufacturing facility in 1985, have boosted its international presence. Viking Engineered Cast Products, the in-house iron and alloys foundries, serves outside customers as well as casting components for Viking Pump.