Clemco Celebrates 80 Years

MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2021

Manufacturing company for air-powered abrasive blast equipment, Clemco Industries Corp. (Washington, Missouri), recently announced the celebration of its 80th anniversary.

Founded in San Francisco as Clementina Co. in 1941, the company originally rented equipment to contractors. In celebrating the occasion, the company interviewed Clemco Founder Al Cleary on its origin and other memories.

Looking Back

According to Clemco, the interview was inspired after discovering an old file cabinet during a company spring cleaning in 2018. However, in additional conversations with Cleary, more details were revealed about the company’s history.

Having launched shortly before World War II, Cleary reports that the idea for selling abrasive blast equipment all started when Al Miller told Ed Larkin that he was going to sell an air compressor over a few cocktails during lunch.

“I’ll even have it rented out for you, and I’ll have it rented on the waterfront. I want you to buy a 105-cuft portable air compressor … and it will only cost you $900!” said Miller at the time.

Larkin had another martini and decided, “By God, I’m gonna buy that air compressor.”

While Cleary was serving the U.S. Navy at the time, when he returned, he started working for Larkin, and would later become instrumental in Clementina’s growth and the driving force behind the company’s development into Clemco Industries.

By about 1947, Cleary reported that the business was just starting to become a formal business, having operated with only three people and a fleet of dump trucks in the years prior. In the years to come, and as a result of not liking to conduct maintenance on sandblast machines the company rented out from Sand Storm Manufacturing in Fresno, California, the shift to manufacture the machines themselves and sell them nationally arose.

“Our whole philosophy was based on service,” said Cleary. “The rental business is a very simple business and there is only one word in the rental business—and that is service. If you don’t give the customer service, you’re not going to be in business.”

In 1949, the Clementina Company manufactured its first blast machine. Cleary’s family had the pot gold-plated and presented it to Al on Dec. 22, 1983. It currently is on display at Clemco’s headquarters.

“All the way along the line, we’ve dealt with everyone in our organization and other organizations with respect and treated them like people. I want you people who are new to Clemco Industries to remember that you are people. You’re not a number, not just a name, you’re a person as far as I’m concerned,” Cleary concluded.

Today, Clemco manufactures air-powered abrasive blasting equipment to clean, deburr, shot peen, finish and remove coatings from surfaces.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Asia Pacific; Business operations; Clemco; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Equipment manufacturers; Equipment rental; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Surface preparation equipment; Z-Continents

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