When reviewing the history of Dixon Valve & Coupling Company, it is necessary to look to the individuals responsible for creating the company.
In 1887, at the age of 15, Howard W. Goodall quit school to work at a Philadelphia rubber distributor, Latta & Mulconroy Company, as a general clerk and errand boy. An inherent tinkerer, Goodall became interested in designing hose couplings and clamps which could obviously be sold as an accessory to their hose line. Mr. Mulconroy suggested that Goodall call on some accounts himself in order to promote the hose coupling project. This resulted in a successful and profitable new business for Latta & Mulconroy Company.
Several years later, Goodall asked permission from Mr. Mulconroy to travel to Wilmington , Delaware to call on the leather tanning industry there. Mr. Latta, Mulconroy's partner, objected. He didn't believe the young Goodall had any business calling on clients in Wilmington. Ultimately, this lead to a feud between the two partners resulting in Goodall's dismissal.
Later, with Mr. Mulconroy's blessing, H.W. Goodall founded the Goodall Rubber Company. He also started Knox Manufacturing Company in order to manufacture couplings and clamps, which were sold to rubber manufacturers and distributors. Knox Manufacturing was sold to Mr. Robert Stovell several years later.
In order to further the design and manufacture of couplings for the country's thriving growth in mining, oil drilling, construction and railroads, H.W. Goodall started the Dixon Valve & Coupling Company on March 21st, 1916. Dixon was originally located at 11th and Race Streets in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Goodall Rubber Company continued to grow. Much of its success can be attributed to Howard Goodall's willingness to travel to every major construction site he could locate, identify their hose and coupling requirements and then provide the necessary products. This gave H.W. Goodall considerable knowledge of coupling requirements on construction sites - information he later used to develop additional products for the Dixon line. [The top left photo shows Mr. Goodall inspecting couplings at Hoover Dam in 1932.]
In 1924, H.W. Goodall was advised to slow down for health reasons. He sold out his interest in Goodall Rubber Company and continued to operate the Dixon Valve & Coupling Company. Mr. Goodall traveled extensively promoting the Dixon products, crisscrossing the country several times a year.
As the company grew, they moved several times to larger locations. Eventually they settled at Hancock and Columbia Avenues where they purchased a building in 1929. Two large adjacent buildings were acquired (approximately 135,000 feet) during the 1940-1950's and, even with this additional space, the buildings were inadequate; so, in 1976, the business moved to Chestertown, Maryland.
In 1929, and for the next fifteen years, the largest selling item in the Dixon line was rotary hose couplings. These were extremely high pressure couplings used for the drilling of oil wells. These items represented approximately 35% of the total business.
The other items in the line which are still a large part of Dixon sales to this day are Boss couplings, King single and double bolt hose clamps, Air Hammer couplings, suction couplings, Air King Universal couplings and King combination nipples.
Prior to World War II, Dixon continued to promote and sell those basic products and added to the line other hose couplings you are familiar with today. The products listed below are a few of Dixon firsts:
"Boss" Ground Joint and Air Hammer Couplings
Air King® Malleable Iron Universal Couplings with Safety Locking feature
"King" Steel Combination Nipples
Steel Hose Menders
Plated Hose Fittings
Dredge Sleeve Clamps
In 1940, Dixon purchased the Mulconroy Company, formerly the Latta & Mulconroy Company. Eventually the Mulconroy line was incorporated into the Dixon line and today are referred to as Holedall couplings.
The Second World War had a large impact on Dixon. Much to the company's surprise, a large amount of its products fell under the Federal government priority system and were used by industry and the military in the war efforts. The company was forced to follow the ratings, which resulted in its inability to supply its standard product to the commercial distributor base. Al Dewees, who had also been the sales manager for Dixon, joined with Harry Shaw to start the Hose Accessories Company, later known as Le-Hi Valve & Coupling Company. With Dixon's production going almost 100% to the military, Dewees and Shaw were able to make large inroads into Dixon's distributor business. Dixon's manufacturing facilities were used for several military contracts. The largest was to produce 380,000 fuse plugs for anti-aircraft ammunition shells which were run on a brand new six-spindle automatic screw machine (right), the only one in the Philadelphia area at the time.
At the end of World War II, the company was left with no military business. In fact, there were thousands of Dixon couplings that were still in the Columbus Depot that were being disposed of for commercial use. It was necessary for Dixon to double its sales efforts to regain much of its distributor business which had gone elsewhere during the war.
In 1951, H.W. Goodall became ill while on a sales trip to California and died ten days after his return. His son R.B. Goodall, who had worked for Dixon since 1929, became the President and Chief Operating Officer. Dixon continued to grow and prosper under his leadership.
In 1952, Dixon purchased Buck Iron Company. Eventually, this company would become Dixon's major source of malleable iron, brass, aluminum and ductile castings for it's hose couplings. Today, Buck Iron Company, located in picturesque Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, employs 400 people and supplies most of Dixon's casting needs. That business, however, represents only a small part of Buck Iron's total casting sales.
During the 1950's, Dixon pioneered the use of non-metallic hose fittings. The Tuff-Lite line of nylon fittings was revolutionary and had much success in agricultural, food and medical applications through the years.
Throughout the 1960's and 70's, Dixon continued to grow by adding branch locations throughout the country in an attempt to provide overnight service to its customers. In 1974, an agreement was made with a leading manufacturer of Wormgear Clamps to sell its products. This venture proved to be extremely successful and was the first major product sold by Dixon that it did not design and manufacture. Today, while still manufacturing most of the products it sells, Dixon markets many hose couplings and related accessories at very competitive prices for other manufacturers.
In 1976, Dixon moved from its facilities at 2nd and Columbia in Philadelphia. Today, the company is located on 10 acres in historic Chestertown, Maryland [shown on left]. In 1980, Dixon entered the Cam and Groove market by applying for a patent on a fitting with a safety locking handle. This product became known as "Boss Lock". In 1985, the assets of the Le-Hi Andrews Division of Parker Hannifin were purchased, thus providing Dixon with the Andrews line of Cam and Groove fittings.
In 1988, R.B. Goodall's son, R.L. Goodall, became President of the company. The senior Mr. Goodall died in 1994, and R.L. Goodall took over as President and Chief Operating Officer.
Lou Farina became president of Dixon in 2001, R.L. Goodall continues as CEO. Lou started working in Dixon's mailroom in 1959 following in the footsteps of his father who retired as manager of shipping and transportation after 55 years of service.
In 2010, Bob Grace succeeded Lou as President of Dixon. Bob had spent the prior two years under Lou as the Executive Vice President. During this time, Bob was also the Vice President and General Manager of the Dixon Fire Division. Bob began his career at Dixon in 1989 as the Distribution Manager.
Dixon is committed to maintaining its role as a leading innovator in the hose and coupling industry. We continue to build on our solid foundation and commitment to supply quality hose fittings and accessories to our customers.