The Ingersoll Rand Compressor A Century of Innovation - Samco

The Ingersoll Rand Compressor: A Century of Innovation

Ingersoll Rand is an American multinational organization that provides a diverse range of products, including turbines, equipment for construction, golf cars, security locks, and temperature controls. One of the most significant innovations is the Ingersoll Rand compressor.

This company was established via the spinoff of the industrial segment of Ingersoll-Rand, otherwise known as Trane Technologies, and its merger with Gardner Denver.

Ingersoll Rand’s products are sold under over 40 brands across every major global market. The company is headquartered in Davidson, North Carolina, and operates in 2 segments: Industrial Technologies and Services and Precision and Science Technologies.

History of the Ingersoll Rand Company

The Ingersoll Rand Drill organization was established in 1871 in New York City by Simon Ingersoll. This leading solutions and innovation provider was formed after patenting a steam-powered rock drill. In 1888, the company merged with the Sergeant Drill Company and became known as the Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company.

The Ingersoll Rand Company manufactures a wide range of equipment and machinery for the construction and energy markets and the general industry. This firm is a well-known leader in manufacturing the following:

  • Bearings
  • Ingersoll Rand Compressor
  • Door locks and hardware
  • Hardware
  • Road construction machinery
  • Skid-steer loaders, etc.

A Breakdown of the Formation of the Ingersoll Rand Company

The Ingersoll Rand Company developed due to the supreme efforts of 4 late 19th-century inventors:

  • Simon Ingersoll: Inventor and farmer who patented a rock drill in 1871 and sold the rights to his patent.
  • Henry Clark Sergeant: He was responsible for improving Ingersoll’s drill and successfully persuaded José F. de Navarro, a prominent businessman, to invest heavily in the idea.
  • William Lawrence Saunders: He single-handedly developed several diversified forms of the rock drill.
  • Addison Crittenden Rand: Rand also helped improve the rock drills that Simon Ingersoll invented and patented. Rand also successfully persuaded several mining companies to swap this new technology for the traditional chisel and hammer.

The Beginnings of the Ingersoll Rand Company

Everything started when Simon Ingersoll, an inventor working at truck farming in order to support his beloved family, accepted a contractor’s commission to efficiently develop a steam-powered drill that works on rocks. This offer was presented to the inventor in 1870.

Simon Ingersoll worked tirelessly on this invention in a machine shop in New York owned by José F. de Navarro, a popular entrepreneur. In 1871, Ingersoll obtained a patent on the rock drill. However, this new tool was incapable of standing up to the rocky streets of New York.

Henry Clark Sergeant was one of the partners in the machine shop at the time. He took an interest in the drill design and made a crucial change by separating the front head from the cylinder. The concept behind this move was that a two-piece drill could better resist breakage.

Clark Sergeant then persuaded José F. de Navarro to purchase Ingersoll’s patent. The entrepreneur obliged and soon organized the Ingersoll Rock Drill Company in 1874. Henry Clark Sergeant was the company’s first president.

Unfortunately for Ingersoll, he was forced to sell off most of his patents and spent the rest of his life working half-heartedly at farming in order to feed his family. In 1894, Simon Ingersoll, who was almost destitute, passed away.

The Contributions of Henry Clark Sergeant

But Henry Clark Sergeant was a business genius who turned ideas into highly profitable businesses. He had been inventing stuff since he was a teenager and successfully secured his first patent when he turned 20.

In 1868, Sergeant, being 34 years old, arrived in New York City, where he opened a machine shop specializing in developing the ideas of other inventors. This business flourished, and Sergeant had to take on a partner and moved into José F. de Navarro’s shop.

After de Navarro established the Ingersoll Rock Drill Company, Henry Clark Sergeant worked for a few years to enhance Ingersoll’s drill by using compressed air instead of steam to operate the equipment.

By 1885, Sergeant had successfully developed a completely different and efficient rock drill. He founded the Sergeant Drill Company, which focused on manufacturing his own type of rock drill. In 1888, Sergeant merged the two manufacturing companies and became the first Ingersoll-Sergeant Rock Drill Company president.

Henry Clark Sergeant became a director after a few years and soon focused on inventing products.

The Intervention of Addison Crittenden Rand

Addison Crittenden Rand moved from Massachusetts to New York City when Simon Ingersoll was busy patenting his rock drill. His brother, Alfred T. Rand, played a crucial role in establishing a mining firm called Laflin & Rand Powder Company.

Addison Rand had already founded the Rand Drill Company in order to develop an effective rock drill and machinery that compresses air for his brother’s mining firm. His company developed the popular Little Giant tappet drill and the Rand Slugger drill.

The equipment was heavily marketed, and several mining companies were convinced to switch from the traditional chisel and hammer to rock drills powered by Ingersoll Rand Compressor

Addison Rand had a paternalistic approach to business, for which he was well-known. He took his time to carefully select employees and trained them for highly skilled positions. He avoided unions and was quite offended when some of his workers at the Tarrytown, New York plant went on strike. This plant was shut down for almost a year before Rand agreed to a settlement.

Centenary Celebrations of Ingersoll Rand

It is on record that Simon Ingersoll’s steam-powered rock drill was the first to be mounted on a tripod. This rock drill was lighter, more productive, and faster than its predecessors. This machinery revolutionized the entire drilling industry, leading to the establishment of the Ingersoll Rock Drill Company.

At the time, reciprocating compressors, developed in the 17th century by Otto von Guericke, a German, were not so popular until a few years later. The German worked on improving compressors and soon patented a compound or stage compressor – that involved compressing air in several successive cylinders – in 1829.

The Ingersoll Rand Company celebrated its centennial in March 2005 during the Conexpo-Con/Agg show in Las Vegas, Nevada.


The Ingersoll Rand Compressor is a powerful machine that most drilling companies use during their operations. It is one of the numerous products the company manufactures today. But the company probably wouldn’t have existed but for the tenacity and business-savviness of 2 men: Simon Rand and Addison Crittenden Rand. Samco Enterprises provides Ingersoll Rand legacy compressor parts and services, including compressor valve solutions, component repair, and our rapid exchange program.