History & Hallmarks
In 1893, Hieronymus Mueller established H. Mueller Manufacturing Company in Decatur, Illinois. His company grew over the years and was later developed into a partnership with his six sons. In 1917, the youngest son, Oscar Mueller, induced his brothers to open a commercial brass forgings operation in Port Huron, MI. This facility was established as Mueller Metals Company and primarily produced brass rod for the production of munitions for WWI.
During the years following the war, Mueller Metals manufactured high-strength brass forging for gears, bearings and pumps used by manufacturers of mechanical devices. The company was also a leader in the development of brass valves and fittings for the emerging refrigeration industry. Then, in 1923, the company introduced soft copper tube for underground water supplies and, the next year, hard copper tube for indoor water supplies. This marked the beginning of Mueller Metals' leadership role in the development of new plumbing and flow control products.
Mueller Metals Co. changed its name to Mueller Brass Co. in 1924 and in 1927 Oscar Mueller gained full possession of Mueller Brass Co. When Mueller Brass Co. introduced the world's first solder-type fittings under the Streamline® brand in 1930, the plumbing industry changed forever. The new Streamline solder-joined copper fittings were as strong as the tubes they connected and provided superior flow characteristics. This development eventually led to all-copper plumbing and heating systems becoming the industry standard. Mueller Brass Co. expanded rapidly during the years following the war. In 1935, Oscar Mueller sold his controlling interest in Mueller Brass Co. to the Atlas Corp., an investment company, and announced his retirement in 1936.
After World War II, Mueller Brass Co. continued to develop through acquisition and internal growth, while expanding the scope of the company to include specialty industrial and engineered products made from copper-based alloys and impact extrusions for home appliance and various other manufacturers. During the early 1960s, Mueller Brass Co. added defense subcontractors to their customer mix. The company's offerings grew into various other forms of rods, forgings, tubes and castings made from aluminum, copper, brass, bronze and other alloys - as well as semi-finished and fabricated products including powdered metal, screw machine parts, machined castings, forgings and impact extrusions, refrigeration valves and fittings, chromium and nickel-plated fabricated items, electro-tinned and hot-dipped fabricated items, and copper pipes, tubes, and fittings used in plumbing, heating, and air conditioning.
In 1965, Mueller Brass Co. merged with U.S. Smelting Refining and Mining (USSRAM), a large mining company with interests in gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc. The merger vertically integrated the parent company's copper mining and smelting with Mueller Brass Co.'s production of copper products. The merger was so profitable that the company was able to aggressively introduce new products, modernize old facilities, and build new plants. The Port Huron rod mill was modernized - doubling its copper alloys capacity and the company constructed a modern tube mill in Fulton, Mississippi, which included a 6,300-ton automated extrusion press. Mueller also diversified by introducing a new line of plastic pipe and fittings. USSRAM changed its name to UV Industries, Inc. in the early '70s, reflecting the company's increasingly diverse product mix that now included electrical equipment. At the same time, Mueller Brass Co. acquired operations in Hartsville, Tennessee to produce refrigeration and air conditioning components.
In 1979, UV Industries, and thus Mueller Brass Co., were acquired by the Sharon Steel Corporation. Mueller Brass Co. continued to prosper and began manufacturing metric fittings at its Canadian subsidiary in Strathroy, Ontario in 1983. Sharon Steel, however, was burdened with debt and eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1987. Mueller Brass Co. continued to operate profitably while its parent company reorganized, acquiring new manufacturing facilities in Ashland and Upper Sandusky, Ohio to manufacture plastic valves, pipe couplings, steel pipe nipples, malleable iron pipe fittings, iron castings, and plastic pipe fittings for wholesalers and retail/hardware stores. At the same time, Mueller Brass Co. developed the SRD-1, which allowed customers in the refrigeration and climate control industries to capture and recover fluorocarbons during repair operations - just in time to meet strict new EPA regulations.
Sharon Steel was broken up at the end of 1990, and after 25 years as a subsidiary of a larger company, Mueller Brass Co. reemerged as an independent Mueller Industries, Inc. The new Mueller Industries, Inc. was composed of the traditional plumbing and refrigeration flow-control operations, industrial products operations, a coal mining division, a short-line railroad, an Alaskan gold mine, and several other mining interests in Canada and the western US. The next year, Mueller Industries moved its headquarters from Port Huron, Michigan to Wichita, Kansas, and Mueller Industries stock was listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The housing boom that began in the mid-1990s increased the demand for plumbing and refrigeration products. To meet these demands, Mueller Industries expanded production capacity and improved manufacturing efficiencies at many of its operations. The company moved its headquarters from Wichita, Kansas to Memphis, Tennessee in 1996 to relocate the head office closer to core manufacturing operations in Tennessee and Mississippi. At the same time, Mueller Industries acquired new plants and equipment to manufacture copper, copper alloy, aluminum tubing, fabricated tubular products, semi-rigid and flexible coaxial cables, and assemblies used in the defense industry and in microwave technology.
In 1997, Mueller Industries acquired copper tube manufacturers Desnoyers, in France, and Wednesbury Tube, in the United Kingdom, and a year later added B&K Industries, Inc., an Illinois-based importer and distributor of residential and commercial plumbing products, which expanded the companies' distribution to retail home centers and hardware stores. The next acquisition was Lincoln Brass Works, Inc., a manufacturer of custom control valve assemblies, custom metal assemblies, gas delivery systems, and tubular products, mainly for the gas appliance market. Mueller Industries also purchased Halstead Industries, Inc. in 1998, a privately held manufacturer of copper tubing for plumbing, air conditioning and refrigeration applications with plants in Wynne, Arkansas and Clinton, Tennessee.
By the end of the 1990s Mueller Industries had divested almost all of its interests in mineral extraction and other natural resources operations, and the sale of the Utah Railway in 2002 marked the final step in refocusing Mueller Industries' resources and attention on developing its core businesses. Acquisitions and ongoing operational investments continue to help grow the company and are a key part of the company's long-term strategies today.
Key Dates in Mueller Industries' History:1893: Hieronymus Mueller established H. Mueller Manufacturing Company in Decatur, Illinois.
1917: Mueller Metals Company builds a commercial forge to manufacture munitions for WWI.
1923: Mueller Metals Company offers soft and hard copper tube for plumbing applications.
1924: Company is renamed Mueller Brass Co.
1930: Mueller Brass Co. introduces the Streamline® brand solder-type pipe fittings,
revolutionizing the plumbing industry.
1958: Mueller Brass Co. opens an impact extrusion facility in Marysville, Michigan.
1965: U.S. Smelting Refining and Mining (USSRAM) acquired Mueller Brass Co.
1967: Mueller Brass Co. begins producing plastic pipe and fittings.
1970: USSRAM renamed UV Industries, Inc.
1979: Sharon Steel Corporation acquires UV Industries.
1987: Sharon Steel files for bankruptcy; Mueller Brass Co. continues normal, profitable operations.
1990: Mueller Brass Co. enters plastic valves and pipe fittings market through acquisition of U-Brand. Mueller Brass emerges from Sharon Steel bankruptcy as an independent company called Mueller Industries, Inc.
1991: Mueller Industries moves its headquarters from Port Huron, MI to Wichita, KS.
1994: Mueller Industries acquires Colonial Engineering's DWV assets.
1996: Mueller Industries acquires line sets manufacturer Vanguard Industries, redraw commercial tube company Precision Tube, Inc., and headquarters are moved from Wichita, KS to Memphis, TN.
1997: Mueller Industries expands into Europe with acquisitions of Desnoyers S.A. in France and
Wednesbury Tube Ltd. in the U.K.
1998: Mueller Industries acquires copper tube maker Halstead Industries, Inc., plumbing products importer
B & K Industries, Inc. and brass company Lincoln Brass.
2000: Mueller Industries purchases machining company MicroGuage, Inc. and gas products company ProPipe, Technologies Inc., further expanding the company's OEM value.
2002: Mueller Industries purchases Overstreet-Hughes, expanding tubular products and assemblies to the OEM market, and Colonial Engineering's pressure plastic fittings assets. The company also completes the divestment of all non-core natural resources assets.
2004: Mueller Industries purchases Vemco Brasscapri Limited, a UK-based import distributor of plumbing products and acquires assets of Mexico-based steel pipe nipples manufacturer Nipples Del Norte.
2005: Mueller Industries enters into a joint venture with China-based Jiangsu XingRong Hi-Tech Co., Ltd., producing inner-grooved and smooth copper tube products for refrigeration and air conditioning manufacturers in Asia.
2007: Mueller Industries purchases Extruded Metals, Inc. and expands its capabilities in brass and other alloy rod production. Also, the company expands its plastics offering by producing ABS DWV Pipe in Ontario, CA for the Western USA plumbing markets.
2010: Mueller Industries purchases Tube Forming, L.P. (TFI), which produces precision copper return bends and crossovers, and custom-made tube components for the HVACR market.