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THE EARLY YEARS
MANCHESTER TANK WAS FORMED IN 1945 as Manchester Welding and Fabricating Company of Los Angeles, California. The company was purchased by Julius Diamond and Edward Reifschneider in 1946. The only product manufactured at that time was a five gallon vertical tank for storage of butane and propane gas. During the first year of operation, Manchester Tank employed seven people and manufactured about 200 tanks per week.
In November 1946, Edward Reifschneider acquired Mr. Diamond's interest and became the sole owner. When Edward died the following year, his wife, Mollie, continued the operation. In 1947, the business was moved to a larger facility in Lynwood, CA, which became the corporate offices and factory until 1992.
Manchester Tank was incorporated in 1953, with Mrs. Reifschneider acting as President. More property was acquired, increasing square footage of the manufacturing facility, and enabling the addition of production lines for forklift tanks, motor fuel tanks, tractor tanks, weed burners, and hand burners.
After graduating college in 1955 and 1957, respectively, Mrs. Reifschneider's sons, Darrel and Robert, began working for the company. They remained at the helm until their retirement in 2000. Darrel served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Robert as Senior Vice President of Materials, Human Resources, MIS, and Research and Development. Mrs. Reifschneider’s daughter, Elaine Ruhl, was also actively involved in the company, serving as Vice President of Insurance/Public Relations until her retirement in 1996.
Manchester Tank expanded its sales efforts nation-wide and began increasing revenues, which necessitated additional plant capacity. In 1966, a new plant in Lithonia, GA was built to capture sales opportunities in the eastern U.S. In 1971, Manchester purchased Western Tank and Steel Company in Lubbock, Texas, enabling its entrance into the air receiver market. Two years later, in an effort to adequately serve the large recreational vehicle and barbecue manufacturers in the Midwest, Manchester Tank purchased a plant in Elkhart, IN.
THE MIDDLE YEARS
During the oil crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Canadian government heavily promoted alternative fuels, including propane. Taking advantage of the favorable environment, Manchester Tank began producing tanks for the Canadian motor fuel market and solidified the company's interest by constructing a plant in Tillsonburg, ON in 1983.
As the nationwide demand for propane tanks and air receivers grew, Manchester Tank added two more manufacturing facilities. In 1987, as the company built a new plant in Hannibal, MO dedicated to manufacturing of those product lines. In 1989, the company opened a 200# and 420# cylinder plant in Petersburg, VA, the first in the industry to install an "armor clad" powder system. Petersburg's new technology and desirable geographic location to Manchester Tank's eastern customers, forced the Georgia operation into a distribution center in 1996 then due to distribution streamlining efforts in 2002, its ultimate closure.
In 1990, Manchester Tank embarked on two beneficial acquisitions. In January, Manchester Tank acquired Buckeye Boiler Company, a producer of industrial air receivers and other pressure vessels. As a result of this acquisition, Manchester Tank became a dominant leader in the OEM air tank business. In February, Manchester Tank completed a stock merger with their biggest competitor, General Processing Corporation (GPC). GPC manufactured a full line of propane cylinders as well as water heaters. Through this merger Manchester Tank gained valuable customers and acquired GPS's Crossville, TN manufacturing plant, which was better equipped to build LP gas grill cylinders more efficiently than Manchester Tank's Elkhart operation.
In 1992, Manchester Tank closed its Lynwood, CA plant because of an inordinately high cost structure caused by excess capacity at a time when the business was slowing. Consequently, the company moved the headquarters to Brentwood, TN in 1993.
Manchester Tank acquired its Echuca, Australia plant in November 1995. The facility was formed in the 1950s to assemble air compressors and entered into the cylinder business approximately 15 years ago, becoming the leading manufacturer of LP gas cylinders in Australia. Currently, the Australian operations specializes in domestic and industrial cylinders ranging in sizes from 4 kg - 210 kg; forklift cylinders ranging in sizes 15kg - 20kg; and tanks for automotive and air brake applications. Manchester - Australia serves markets in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Rim.
In October 1999, McWane, Inc., a family business based in Birmingham, AL with iron foundries across the United States and Canada acquired Manchester Tank. Under McWane's leadership, Manchester Tank is positioned to remain the industry's leading manufacturer for low-pressure vessels, continue to supply a quality product efficiently and cost effectively, provide service levels that exceed our customer's expectations, invest in our operations, and improve processes as we pursue new opportunities.
THE MODERN ERA
In 2000 Manchester Tank made two significant acquisitions. In July, the company acquired Trinity Industries' plant location in Cedartown, GA. This facility manufactured 200#/420# DOT cylinders and ASME Tanks. In November, Manchester Tank purchased Brunner Engineering & Manufacturing, with manufacturing facilities in Bedford, IN and Quincy, IL. Brunner manufactured industrial air receiver, recreational vehicle, motor fuel, and HVAC tanks.
In early 2001, Manchester Tank discontinued its manufacturing operations in Tillsonburg, ON and Cedartown, GA. The Canadian product lines moved into various U.S. Manchester Tank facilities and the Cedartown products were consolidated into Manchester Tank's Petersburg, VA operation. Later the same year, it was decided to operate the Tillsonburg plant as a distribution center to support Manchester Tank's Canadian customers.
In January 2002, Manchester Tank combined its Hannibal, MO manufacturing facility with its facility in Quincy, IL. This manufacturing facility currently produces 200#/420# DOT Cylinders and ASME Tanks, Chemical Cylinders, OEM Air Receivers, ASME Tanks, and Fire Suppressants.
In November 2003, Manchester Tank moved its corporate offices to a neighboring city, Franklin, TN where it's currently located today.
Over the last five years, Manchester Tank has experienced a significant transformation. In 2004, Manchester Tank closed its Lubbock operation, and ceased its manufacturing operations in Petersburg, VA in 2009. These operational changes enabled the company to consolidate manufacturing into four U.S. plant locations, becoming even more efficient and cost-effective while maintaining the same standard of quality and reliability its customers have relied on since 1946.
While looking forward to a promising future, Manchester Tank takes great pride in its past accomplishments. We appreciate our loyal customers and look forward to developing new relationships as we continue building for the future.