In 1880, the Clark Bros., Co. was founded in Belmont, NY by Charles and William Clark. The company started by building farm and sawmill equipment, but later transitioned to pumps for the explosion in Southern Tier oil development. In 1912, following a fire destroying the Belmont facility, Clark Bros. moved to North Olean to be closer to the oil refineries and pipelines leading from the Olean and Bradford area to major destinations. In 1918, the large engines for drilling and compressors built in Olean are transitioned to aid the war effort as Clark Bros. becomes one of the largest employers in the city.
In the late 1930’s Clark Bros. and Solomon R. Dresser Co. merge to form Dresser-Clark. Production continues through the Great Depression, keeping hundreds of workers employed. In the leadup to World War II, the company produces 75% of all direct driven angle engine compressors in the country.
During the second world war, and despite hundreds of workers volunteering for military service during, the North Olean facility continued to run around the clock to keep the oil fields of America running to aid the war effort. On the firm’s 63rd birthday in March of 1943, Clark Bros. received the Army-Navy “E” pennant. The award criteria included quality and quantity of production; avoidance of work stoppages; meeting fair labor standards and other requirements. Clark Bros. was is the only firm given special dispensation to avoid shutting down during air raid blackout drills. Eventually, the plant was given its own “kill switch” in case of an actual attack. The company was awarded its third star award for the Army-Navy “E” flag in 1945. Only 5% of companies producing materials for the war effort received the award, with fewer earning multiple stars. The company also developed a portable oxygen-making machine that can be airlifted to forward bases, generating breathable air for the high-altitude bomber crews attacking Japan.
In 1956, Dresser-Clark incorporated as Dresser Industries, but locals continue to call it Dresser-Clark for decades. A $2.7 million expansion is announced Nov. 18, including a 300-foot welding shop, a foundry and space for hundreds more workers. The facility expanded into the former Socony Vacuum site, previously a major customer of Clark Bros. The company continued to serve the natural gas market for decades. In 1986, Dresser-Rand is formed in a joint venture between Dresser Industries and Ingersoll Rand. Later, September 1999 Dresser Industries merges with competitor Halliburton Industries, forcing the sale of Dresser’s share of Dresser-Rand to Ingersoll-Rand.
In 2001, Cameron’s Compression Systems group purchased Nickles Industrial, a supplier of Clark, IR, and Worthington engine parts headquartered in Ponca City, Oklahoma. For the next 2 decades, Compression Systems (Now Cooper Machinery Services) has provided parts, service, repairs and upgrades for the three engine lines. Recently, through acquisition and organic growth projects, Cooper has expanded their product offering and now is a full service global supplier of products for Clark, IR, and Worthington integral engines and compressors.