Fredrick Stadelhofer, Fred Carpenter, Jack L. Chambers and Clemens W. Laufenburg started Berkeley Pump Corporation in a garage on March 24, 1937. Stadelhofer and Carpenter had discovered a demand for smaller centrifugal pumps than their current employer, Byron and Jackson Pumps, was manufacturing.
Being located in the San Francisco area, there were a lot of shipyards so there was a constant demand for pump repairs. Over the years, the company developed several new product lines. Ralph Rhoda, a hydraulics engineer who had started with the company in 1939, contributed extensively to the fact that the company was able to advertise itself as the company with “the most complete line of pumps”.
The Berkeley product line included chicken liver pumps, UL-approved fire pumps, municipal, domestic, elevator, end-gun, potato, car wash, missile, jet boat, exotic metal, salt water, forest service, sump, non-clog, propeller, mixed flow and other pumps.
California has always been the leader in irrigation – particularly in overhead sprinkler irrigation, and Berkeley was always a leader in this field.
During World War II, the company dissolved as a legal entity for income tax purposes, but was involved in a lot of war-oriented work including fuel transfer pumps and submarine pumps. After the war, in 1946, members of the original group of directors and Leon Wilson (who replaced founding member Wright Morton) reincorporated as Berkeley Pump Company.
Main manufacturing centers were in Berkeley, Atlanta and Grand Island, Nebraska. The company also made oil lube and water lube turbines in Amarillo, Texas and opened a small plant in Canada that eventually grew into four locations.
Transamerica Delaval, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Transamerica Corp., the company that’s headquartered in the frequently photographed San Francisco pyramid building, acquired Berkeley pumps in 1982. By that time, it had grown to about 625 employees with 12 domestic locations. Each of these had assembly equipment or did some type of machine work. The company had about 3,500 active dealers with excellent coverage in Central and South America and the Far East, with fair representation in Australia and New Zealand.
The Sta-Rite company acquired Berkeley in 1986. In 2004, Sta-Rite and Berkeley were acquired by Pentair Water. Today, Berkeley is part of the Residential Flow Technologies business unit with manufacturing locations in Delavan, WI and Kansas City, KS and service centers in Grand Island, NE, Fresno, CA, Jacksonville, FL and Kitchener, ON Canada. Berkeley Pumps are available through a network of more than 5,000 authorized dealers throughout North America.