History of Klein Products, Inc.
As a young man working for the J. C. Penney department store in the late 1940ís, Richard Klein was determined to become a store manager. His Dad always told him to get a good job with a good Co. and work hard. Everything else would take care of itself. Klein was on his way, he had made manager trainee, the boss liked him, and he was on the fast track to job and financial security. However, his progress was soon temporarily interrupted as he joined the National Guard to fight in the Korean War.
Klein joined the National Guard in 1949. During his tour of duty he became a welder. In addition to his job as the battalion welder he also maintained the truck, equipment and machinery fleet in his battalion. Klein finished his tour in 1952 and returned to J.C. Penney as a Manager Trainee.
Klein soon grew tired of his jobs indoor confinement. He wanted to pursue his interests in trucks, machinery, fabrication and fixing things. Klein quit his job and pursued other opportunities. He started his own trucking business but unfortunately the trucking business proved to be unsuccessful. At the request of his former manager he returned to J. C. Penney. After a short time he quit again and went to work as a welder and mechanic for a truck repair Co. In 1957 in Azusa, California Klein started Klein Welding, a truck and equipment repair shop. This Co. would eventually become Klein Products, Inc. Due to his love of machinery and equipment; Klein pursued business opportunities with the local contractors who used trucks and heavy equipment. He soon made a name for himself as a reliable and talented truck mechanic and expert welder.
1958, one of the local dirt moving contractors who used
Klein regularly for misc. repairs and welding jobs came
calling with a special project. He wanted a large capacity
water distributor to use on his large dirt excavating
jobs. He wanted to use his LaTourneu C tractor scraper
as the prime mover power unit and convert the scraper
bowl to a tanker. Klein originally did not want to attempt
the job but with encouragement from the contractor Klein
successfully completed his first tractor scraper conversion
tanker. Word spread about the new economical way to
get large capacity water distributors on the job and
soon Klein had orders to build tankers for just about
every large job contractor in the area.
a result of the increase in business Klein outgrew
his facility in Azusa and in 1960 moved the operation
to a larger facility in Baldwin Park, CA. In Baldwin
Park Klein continued to develop and perfect his
tractor scraper conversion tanker product line.
This tank manufacturing experience also led to other
opportunities. Klein soon began competing for and
winning contracts for water truck tanks and related
equipment for municipalities and other contractors.
new larger capacity tractor scraper conversion tankers
proved to be very productive on the job. The cycle
times of the water equipment was greatly increased.
However, the larger capacity tankers had their own
unique problem. They took too long to refill using
the typical method of water recovery. Much of the
increased productivity was lost because the fire
hydrant or auxiliary water pump that was used to
refill water equipment recovered the tankers at
a slow rate. So came the next step in the evolution
of Klein Products: The invention of the Porto-Tower.
in 1962, the Klein Porto-Tower® revolutionized
dirt contracting. The Porto-Tower® immediately
became a pre-requisite on every dirt-moving job
and made Klein Products, Inc. a major, national
construction equipment manufacturing Company. The
Porto-Tower® is a large capacity, self-contained,
portable, highway legal water tower with a large
diameter downspout capable of recovering a water-distributing
vehicle at a rate of 5000 gallons per minute. Thats
at least 10 times faster than a fire hydrant. Easy
to use and easy to transport the Porto-Tower®
became a standard item on every dirt job large or
small. The Klein Porto-Tower® today, dramatically
improved from that original design, is still a standard
item on every job. Today, over 30 years after its
introduction, the Porto-Tower® is still the
superior product in its class. The Porto-Tower®
continues to set the standards that others copy
1964 Klein was designing, building and selling water
equipment and many other specialized types of liquid
distributing and hauling equipment to equipment dealers,
contractors, mining companies and municipalities all
over the Country. Business continued to grow. Klein
out grew its Baldwin Park facility and another move
was necessary. Klein bought 5 acres in Ontario, California
and built a new manufacturing facility. In 1965 a new
"state-of-the-art" Klein manufacturing plant
the mid to late 1960s America was building new
roads, bridges, dams and infrastructure at a frantic
pace. Klein tanks and tankers were being built and used
abundantly. To better serve its growing list of customers
in the eastern part of the United States, Klein searched
for a suitable location for a second manufacturing and
service facility. Texas came calling. In 1969, Klein
Products of Texas opened its doors for business. From
its Jacksonville, Texas location Klein Products of Texas
provided the same quality products and service to the
Eastern region customers with improved speed and economy.
the 1970s Klein Products continued to grow. During
these years the Company truly made a name for itself
as the Premier manufacturing Company in its class. In
addition to expanding and improving their standard product
line, new opportunities were seeked out and challenged.
Relationships were forged with major equipment manufacturers
such as Caterpillar, Deere, Terex, Wabco and others.
These alliances helped develop Kleins domestic
and international business. With the Texas factorys
close proximity to the Port of Houston, exports to Central
America, South America and the Caribbean Islands were
convenient as well as economical. Special, sophisticated
projects with Caterpillar included the design and development
of the largest airport crash vehicle in the World and
the design and development of water tankers installed
on Caterpillar 613 tractors to be dropped out of Military
aircraft into war zones for the U.S. Federal Government.
Special projects with Terex and Wabco included new,
large capacity water distributing vehicles developed
for the emerging mining industry in the U.S. and abroad.
In the 1960s Klein Products made the decision
to design and manufacture its very own line of water
pumps and valves. This decision was made primarily because
there were no commercially available water pumps or
water control valves that were really designed to operate
with our type of equipment or in our customers severe
operating conditions. In the 1970s Klein continued
the design and development of Klein branded Water pumps
and valves. Designed specifically for the severe, off
highway construction and mining conditions facing our
customers everyday. Today, these water pumps and
valves enjoy a worldwide reputation for high quality
and durability. Many of the features built into these
water pumps and valves have become the standard in the
the 1980s Klein Products continued to innovate
and improve. The Ontario facility and the Texas facility
would run at full capacity until the U.S. economy slowed
down. Due to the slowdown in business Klein was forced
to conserve. The Texas operation ceased operations and
all business was consolidated to the California operation.
By the end of the 1980s worsening economic conditions
combined with a terrible business climate in the State
of California, forced Klein to take drastic measures
to perpetuate the business. By now, the State of California
did not want anything to do with heavy industry manufacturing.
We found that we could not raise our prices high enough
to cover the additional overhead of being in business
in California and successfully compete in our markets.
All of our competitors operated outside the State of
California. We either had to move operations or quit
business altogether. An opportunity presented itself
in the Sate of Kansas that was hard to resist. In 1989
the decision was made to downsize the operation in California,
and open a manufacturing plant in Kansas.
1990 the Plant in Kansas was opened and the downsizing
of the California operation had taken place. Soon after
the move, ownership of the Kansas facility was turned
over to one of Mr. Kleins sons. Agreements of
distribution did not work out. In 1994 the two companies
had a complete separation and went their own ways.
1994 Klein expanded again. A new state-of-the-art manufacturing
facility was developed in Jacksonville Texas. Built
on a 30-acre parcel of land this new facility was equipped
to design and manufacture in house the entire Klein
product line. The new Texas facility location lends
itself well for United States distribution as well as
Exports. The 1990s proved very productive for
Klein. Many new customers from all around the world
were accommodated. Almost the entire product line was
improved, updated and modernized. New products were
introduced to the markets we serve. Klein continued
to innovate and provide leadership to the entire Industry.
this new millennium Klein has already begun more expansion.
The Ontario, California facility just finished building
a brand new parts warehouse and service shop. A 3-acre
parcel of land has also been recently purchased in Ontario
to accommodate planned growth in the near future.
Products, Inc. is now a 45-year-old Company. Clearly
the worldwide leader in the Industries it serves, Klein
has proven itself over the years as the most successful
Company of its kind it the World. As for the future,
there are no plans to slow down. Our plans are to continue
to innovate, improve and always provide the absolute
best value to the markets we serve and to provide superior