Our History

More than 100 Years of Innovative Water Solutions, Growth and Responsibility

Since 1900, we’ve dedicated ourselves to protecting health, human safety, and the environment through our sustainable water solutions.  

From Zurn's humble beginnings in a Pennsylvania barn to our current global presence, we've spent the last century expanding and growing, bringing together leading brands like WilkinsWorld DryerHadrianJust Manufacturing, Wade Drains and, most recently, ElkayAs we look toward an exciting future, our roots continue to guide us in everything we do.

Chain Belt Company is founded in Milwaukee, WI

The original Chain Belt Company, later known as Rexnord Corporation which eventually became Zurn Water Solutions, was founded by inventor C.W. LeValley. The first board of directors meeting was held on September 9, 1891. Chain Belt was incorporated in the state of Wisconsin on February 24, 1892.

Zurn is founded in Erie, PA

At the turn of the twentieth century, John A. Zurn purchased Erie City Iron Works’ backwater valve patterns and set up shop manufacturing valves and other plumbing products that address building owner and end-user challenges.

John A. Zurn broadens his business

With a partner, Zurn invested in a bronze pattern and tooling company and then added Lake Erie Foundry for its resources and castings. They officially named the business J.A. Zurn Manufacturing company.

Elkay Manufacturing is founded in Chicago, IL

European immigrant Leopold Katz, alongside his son Louis Katz and business partner Ellef Robarth, founded Elkay Manufacturing Company. Operating from a tiny, rented space on the North side of Chicago, the trio specialized in sink and cabinet manufacturing. Paul Sternberg Sr. helped finance the business.

1940 - 1945
Zurn and Elkay assist in the war effort

Zurn, Elkay and other businesses turned their focus to supporting the U.S. war effort. Zurn and Elkay were both ultimately awarded the “E” Award for excellence in producing wartime materials – an honor given to only five percent of the nation’s manufacturers.

Paul Sternberg Jr.'s outreach begins

Sternberg’s 7-year-old niece Arlene Albrecht came down with polio. True to character, Sternberg lead the charge as Elkay built a portfolio of products designed to help care for polio patients. He also steered Elkay’s efforts to aid wounded World War 2 soldiers. Today, the Zurn Elkay Sternberg Award honors associates that embody his philanthropic spirit. Arlene made a full recovery.

Zurn launches its first point drain

Zurn launched point drains right after the war, which quickly became a staple of its advanced water solutions. Instead of simply solving for end use, Zurn engineered a product line that made installation easier for contractors.

The Zurn Foundation is established

On Friday, October 9th, 1953, Chain Belt Company president L.B. McKnight established the Chain Belt Foundation Inc., later renamed the Zurn Foundation, to formalize the company's philanthropic efforts. Today, the Zurn Foundation provides financial support to organizations working at the ground level to foster sustainability in our communities, built on the three pillars of Basic Needs, Education and Environment.

Zurn Canada is formed

Zurn formed Zurn Canada as demand increased, spreading its mission of providing clean water solutions beyond the United States. Today, we have five Canadian locations and over 250 Canadian associates.

1957 - 1959
Coinciding tragedies

Elkay president Louis Katz Jr., a founder’s son, suddenly passed of a heart attack at age 38 in 1957. Despite overwhelming grief and discussion of selling the company, Elkay continued as Ron Katz, Louis Jr.’s brother, joined the family business. Just two years later in 1959, John Henry Zurn, the intended future leader of the company and grandson of its founder, tragically passed away in a plane crash at the age of 34. The family was devastated at his loss and Zurn’s future became uncertain.

Zurn goes public

Zurn persevered despite John Henry Zurn’s passing. The family decided to take the newly renamed Zurn Industries public in 1961, trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Elkay launches its first line of water coolers

Elkay spent 18 months researching and developing a fresh line of water coolers uniquely available in 18 colors. The Cascade water coolers seized a stronger-than-planned position in the market in just six months, solidifying Elkay’s presence in the industry.

Zurn acquires Wilkins

Zurn acquired Wilkins Regulator Company, another homegrown business known for quality and pioneering products. Now, our Wilkins product line covers fire protection, connected products, and every valve and backflow preventer in between.

Elkay fine-tunes the bubbler business

Elkay continued to develop water coolers and drinking fountains in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. The company acquired the Cordley and Temprite brand divisions of the Eaton Corporation, enabling Elkay to centralize water cooler manufacturing at a larger facility.

Zurn reimagines the restroom space

Zurn added flush valves to its product portfolio, laying the groundwork for decades of further innovation. Today, our company continues to reimagine the restroom space with behind-the-wall plumbing systems, front-of-wall fixtures, and its line of connected plumbing products.

Elkay dives into retail

Despite the risks after decades of near-exclusive wholesale operations, Elkay began selling do-it-yourself products in retail stores under the name Neptune. Faucet business surged as consumers became more familiar with Elkay products.

Elkay manufactures its one millionth water cooler

Fifteen years after launching its breakout Cascade line, Elkay produced its one millionth water cooler.

Paul Sternberg Jr. retires from management

After an illustrious 50-year career at Elkay, Paul Sternberg Jr. retired from his position as vice chairman and CEO. Sternberg Jr. had advised the Katz family throughout his career and introduced Elkay to a variety of philanthropic efforts for those in need. He continued serving on the board until 2006.

Jacuzzi acquires Zurn

Jacuzzi acquired Zurn for its high-quality water solutions, ushering in a new era of Zurn that would last nearly two decades.

Elkay acquires Halsey Taylor

Elkay acquired Halsey Taylor, moving its operations to Savanna. The acquisition instantly made Elkay the largest manufacturer in the water cooler industry.

Elkay acquires EB Técnica

Elkay acquired EB Técnica Mexicana, the largest sink producer in Mexico. The move was a major strategic step in building Elkay’s sink production and manufacturing worldwide.

Rexnord Corporation acquires Zurn, further accelerating industry expertise

Zurn is acquired by Rexnord Corporation, previously known as Chain Belt Company, bringing further investment and growth in strategic water management solutions. After the acquisition Rexnord corporation consisted of two main divisions: Process and Motion Control and Water Management.

New Leadership

Todd A. Adams appointed to Chief Executive Officer, after he spearheaded the acquisition of Zurn Industries and the creation of the company’s Water Management Platform, which nearly doubled the size of the business and laid the groundwork for the company’s 2021 transformation into Zurn Water Solutions, a pure-play water business. Todd was later elected chair of the board in 2020 and leads the company today.

Elkay introduces the ezH2O bottle filling station

Elkay introduced the ezH2O bottle filling station and, with the help of a guerrilla marketing campaign powered by passionate college students, revolutionized point-of-use filtration.

Zurn Innovation Center opens in Cary, NC

As a part of Rexnord Corp., Zurn’s first Innovation Center in Cary, NC became a hub for professional collaboration, testing, finetuning and advancement of its robust water solutions portfolio.

Zurn acquires Green Turtle

Zurn, as a part of Rexnord Corp., acquired Green Turtle for its patented grease interceptor systems, taking plumbing from inside the building to outside the walls and behind the scenes. Today, our behind the scenes plumbing offerings make up a large portion of our product portfolio.

Zurn moves headquarters to Milwaukee, WI

Zurn, as a part of Rexnord Corp., moved headquarters to Freshwater Way in Milwaukee’s Water Technology District, directly across the street from the Milwaukee River. With Lake Michigan in its backyard, Zurn found inspiration to further improve water safety and quality for all.

Zurn opens showroom in Dubai

Located in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai, Zurn’s first global showroom as a part of Rexnord Corp. was designed to optimize rapid order fulfillment and inventory replenishment for on-time customer delivery. Its opening marked a major milestone in Zurn’s ability to serve customers in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

2016 - 2020
Major growth through acquisitions

Zurn, as a part of Rexnord Corp., and Elkay grew dramatically in the span of five years by acquiring industry leaders World Dryer, Hadrian, Just Manufacturing, MR Direct, Stainless Drains, ATS Greasewatch and Froet Industries. These acquisitions expanded our ability to provide a varied product portfolio for our customers while also respecting each company’s unique heritage.

Zurn separates from Rexnord Corp., becoming a 100% water focused public company

Zurn separated from Rexnord Corp., becoming a 100% water focused public company under the name Zurn Water Solutions. With a newfound independence, Zurn Water Solutions continued to offer a sustainable and efficient product portfolio and acquired Wade Drains in November 2021.

Zurn Water Solutions and Elkay agree to combine

Two titans of innovation came together with their shared mission and values to form Zurn Elkay Water Solutions, a leader in sustainable water solutions that unites our wide array of leadership brands and sustainable business practices.

A sustainably inspired future

Today, Zurn Elkay Water Solutions operates as a united front with the same core mission – providing sustainable, cost-effective and convenient water solutions. Our roots have guided us for the past century and continue to guide us every day.

We're the product of our history and excited about our future.