Aurora Pump Company 1920 - Present


Aurora Pump was founded in 1920, but its Aurora genealogy can be viewed as going much further back. Founder Louis Bodinson had been Chief Engineer with American Well Works, which dated back to 1868 in Aurora. Bodinson and co-founders William Todd and Emil Shopbach produced single cylinder, double plunger, deep well reciprocating pumps before competition forced them to develop a new vertical turbine deep well pump. After initial years, the company went into bankruptcy and reorganized in 1927, focusing on the new turbine pumps.

The depression years were difficult and Aurora Pump never prospered, and the original owners sold in 1937 to Frank Main and Lionel Claypool. Both had worked for Westvaco Pump in Davenport, with Main serving as VP and General Manager while Claypool was Chief Engineer over the past decade. During initial years, profits were small and inventory occasionally had to be sold for scrap to meet payroll. But many of the pumps sold helped irrigate the southwest and rebuilding lands ravaged by the dust bowl years.

The regenerative turbine technology the new owners brought led to quality products, which led to the strong APCO line which prospered during the War years, earning Army-Navy E awards for excellence. In 1948 Ernie Abramson was hired as Chief Engineer for regenerative turbine products and new products were developed successfully as boiler feed systems. As deep well turbine pumps were phased out, horizontal centrifugal and turbine vane pumps were introduced for the emerging trade and marine service industries.

The motto created - "Aurora Always Pumps" would be the beginning of the promise of quality that still exists. Abramson also directed development of the Y4 pump for submarines and then the X40 designed for higher pressures.

In 1952, New York Air Brake purchased Aurora Pump. Owners Frank Main stayed on as President and Lionel Claypool as Vice President. In 1954 Aurora Pump became a New York Air Brake Division and with a new design department in 1957, the pump line was broadened and 300 were employed at the Dearborn and Loukes plant.

Bob Taggart recalls moving to Aurora in 1956 when his father became General Manager of Aurora Pump after the New York Air Brake acquisition and thinking of the $3 million purchase price as an enormous sum. The Taggarts lived a half block away from the Mainís, so saw one of former owners regularly. Summers provided Taggart with opportunity to work at Aurora Pump, mostly taking inventory and painting chain link fences. He learned of companyís emphasis on reliability and quality and pumps that never fail reputation.

While many other Aurora manufacturers faced enormous problems and transitions in the 1960ís, Aurora Pump maintained its position as a pump industry leader. Ever seeking new markets, Aurora Pump added a chemical pump to capture a share of the growing chemical industry. During this time, Aurora Pump developed reactor plant fresh water pumps designed for silent submarine running. These pumps had to perform undetected and were extensively tested for both sound and vibration levels. Continued prosperity justified groundbreaking of a new 52 acre Aurora plant site.

In years since, pumps became more efficient. Production methods were improved. Aurora Pump continues to grow with high tech products, like the H2Optimize software program and the acquisition of other pump companies. Not surprisingly, Aurora Pump maintains their tradition of quality, confirmed by annual revenues of over $130 million by the mid 1990ís from Aurora Pump and sister companies.



Aurora Beacon News, Robert Taggart,