About Zurn

WE ARE PRODUCTS OF OUR HISTORY

At the turn of the twentieth century, John A. Zurn purchased a backwater valve patent from Erie City Iron Works. The product prevented storm and wastewater from flowing back into a building’s drainage system. Fast forward to now, our company spans nine locations, specializes in nine product divisions, and employs 400+ problem solvers.

It makes sense how we got from there to here when you fill in the defining moments. During World War II, we manufactured products to mobilize our country. In the 80s, we reimagined the restroom space with our fixtures and flush valves. Today, we’re connecting customers to product insights that will change the way they maintain their plumbing systems and improve efficiencies. 

Every milestone took curious minds who considered the contractor, building owner, and/or end user. Our ideas keep our teams forging ahead and reinforce our company identity. From Zurn’s first pioneers to today’s engineers, our people continue to solve for other hard-working people through products.

MORE THAN A NAMESAKE

Industrialist, John A. Zurn, purchased Erie City Iron Works’ backwater valve patterns. John A. Zurn set up shop in a barn, in his mother’s backyard. He picked up where Iron Works left off, first opening Zurn’s barn doors in 1900.

He began manufacturing valves and other plumbing products that centered around the building owner and end-user challenges. Even some of the tooling and technology integrated by the business is still relevant today. 

PARTNER FOR POSITIONED GROWTH

John A. Zurn decided to broaden his already growing business. He partnered with a fellow Erie local and entrepreneur, Milton Rowley. The two invested in a bronze pattern and tooling company in the area called Keystone Brass Works, which presently operates.

Just a couple years later, they added Lake Erie Foundry to their business for its resources and castings. The well-stacked company officially named itself, J. A. Zurn Manufacturing Company.

WATER RUNS THROUGH THE BUSINESS

By the 1930s, Zurn’s two sons, Melvin and Everett, took an active role in the company, despite being amid one of the country’s worst economic downturns. The Great Depression arguably hit manufacturing and machine tooling the hardest.

Still, Everett Zurn recognized that urban development would continue, and that wastewater treatment and plumbing would become more and more widespread. The company turned its focus to water safety and control. 

EXCELLENCE IN WAR PRODUCTION

World War II paused the Zurn family’s water safety and control product development. In the 1940s, Zurn shifted efforts from plumbing to manufacture boilers in support of the Allied Forces.

After the war ended, the Army-Navy honored Zurn with the “E” Award for excellence in producing wartime materials. Only five percent of the nation’s manufacturers received the award.

BUSINESS FLOWS WITH DRAINS

Today, drainage is a staple of our advanced water solutions. Zurn launched point drains in 1946, right after the war. It wasn’t just a new product rollout – it was a new way of looking at continuous improvement for the company.

Instead of simply solving for end use, we engineered the line to make installation easier for contractors. Zurn got out in front of off-the-floor plumbing fixtures.

TRAGEDY INTO TRIUMPH

By this time, the company spanned mechanical power and water management. Our experts were focusing more and more on the voice of customer and product testing. Melvin and Everett were prepared to pass the torch to Melvin’s son, John Henry Zurn, named after his grandfather and Zurn founder.

But tragedy struck. John Henry died in a plane crash at the promising age of 34 in 1959. Despite the misfortune, the company moved forward. The family decided to take newly renamed Zurn Industries public in 1961, trading on the New York Stock Exchange. 

PLUMBING PIONEERS MERGE

On the other side of the country, around the same time as John A. Zurn, James Wilkins founded the Wilkins Regulator Company. His venture wasn’t in a barn but did originate from a 200-square-foot garage in Los Angeles.

Over time, Wilkins Regulator Company expanded to over a 160,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Paso Robles that still operates for the Zurn business. Zurn acquired Wilkins in 1972. Now, our Zurn Wilkins product line covers fire protection, connected products, and every valve and backflow preventer in between.

RELIABILITY FOR THE RESTROOM

In 1980, we added flush valves to our product portfolio. Zurn also introduced a location in Gastonia, North Carolina, expanding the company to three main sites.

Today, our company continues to reimagine the restroom space with behind-the-wall plumbing systems, front-of-the-wall fixtures, and its line of connected plumbing products.

JACUZZI GIVES ZURN A WHIRL

By this time, Zurn spanned HVAC, drainage, and flush valves and fixtures. The company wasn’t in hot water, but it was experiencing growing pains. Future progress would benefit from strong investing and backing.

Leading bath and plumbing company, Jacuzzi realized the value of Zurn. Jacuzzi acquired the manufacturing company in 1998 to benefit both companies’ shareholders.

REXNORD USHERS IN NEW ERA

Rexnord acquired Zurn in 2007 for the strategic water management portion of its business. The acquisition was a natural transition for both companies, due to their shared long-standing heritages and focus on solving for the customer. 

This also offered our company an opportunity to accelerate momentum without rattling continuous improvement. Since falling under Rexnord’s Water Management segment, our company sees recurring growth in its product lines and brand equity, year after year.

SEPARATE FROM THE COMPETITION

Zurn acquired Green Turtle for its patented interceptor systems in 2014, taking plumbing from inside the building to outside the walls and behind the scenes.

The leading product, Proceptor, is so reliable our company now backs it with a lifetime warranty in place of the previous 30-year warranty. It’s the only gravity grease interceptor with a patented flow pattern, approved by all recognized regulatory and third-party agencies.

INNOVATION MATCHED BY EXPERIENCE

In 2014, we opened our Innovation Center in Cary, North Carolina. Here, professionals continue to collaborate, test, finetune, and advance our plumbing product line.

Just two years after, we moved our headquarters to Freshwater Way in Milwaukee. With the river across the street and Lake Michigan in its backyard, Zurn finds inspiration from the city’s Water Technology District. The LEED-certified building features a state-of-the-art Customer Experience Center, showcasing our complete line of advanced water solutions.

GLOBAL AND SUSTAINABLE

2016 was a big year beyond Freshwater Way. We unveiled a showroom in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and received recognition from the White House as an agent of public awareness for water sustainability. 

Zurn also expanded its Distribution Center in Toronto, Canada. Across the coasts and countries, our company meets compliance and looks for ways to improve water efficiency. Zurn came to be thanks to the pioneers out of the gate.

Today, we’re products of our history and only have more in the making.