June 12, 2023

For 100 Years Ritchie Industries Has Brought Fresh Water to the Ranch & Farm

Stagnant water, algae blooms in the summer, and stock tanks full of ice in the winter were all problems Thomas Ritchie, an Oskaloosa, Iowa native, was busy trying to solve. In 1921, Ritchie patented the first automatic waterer valve that solved many of the headaches that farmers faced in getting water to their livestock. His automatic float-controlled watering equipment was connected to underground running water and heated with a kerosene lamp to keep the water flowing during the bitter cold. Farmers liked the labor-saving qualities of Ritchie’s patented waterer, and a new business was born.

Livestock producers from Iowa and several other states were soon installing Ritchie’s waterers. In a written testimonial dated January 24, 1925, Walter L. French from Stratton, Nebraska noted: “We bought a hog waterer from you at the Nebraska State Fair last fall. It sure was a dandy. It has been 26 degrees below zero and have had warm water for our hogs at all times.”

In 1929 Ritchie incorporated and moved to an old machine shed in Marshalltown, Iowa. Part of the manufacturing also took place in a small machine shed in Conrad, Iowa until 1943. That year, blacksmith C.D. Wilson purchased Ritchie, moved the business to Conrad, Iowa, and operated the business out of a small blacksmith shop. Shortly after the move, automatic electric heat was introduced to the watering equipment helping to establish Ritchie as the leader in the industry.

After his father’s death in 1979, C. D. Wilson Jr. took the reins of the business and expanded its market and the technology of the product. To meet demands, the company had gone from making six models to more than 40, giving it the distinction of being the largest manufacturer and distributor of the most complete line of animal and livestock watering equipment in North America. In January 2004, Ritchie Industries became employee-owned.

“Today Ritchie Industries engineers, designs, and manufacturers waterers to serve every type of livestock – from an individual horse to 500 beef cattle,” said Robert Amundson, President and CEO of Ritchie Industries. “All of our waterers are engineered to meet the demands of beef producers everywhere. Troughs can be emptied, cleaned, and refilled in a fraction of the time it takes other waterers just to empty. Just like other technological advancements such as nutrigenomics and RFID tags have helped improve the efficiency of beef operations, we are constantly striving to improve your bottom line. If you haven’t thought about upgrading your watering systems, now is the time to look at what new innovations are on the market. Our WaterMaster series requires 75% less energy in the winter than concrete units and they won’t pit or cause cleaning problems. Our newest generation of the CattleMaster series blends the best of both worlds – the technology from traditional stainless-steel units and the newest poly units combined to make a premier waterer. The unit has thermostatically controlled heat for ice-free operation with a fast refill valve to give your cattle clean, fresh water in the toughest climates year-round.”