Brenner Tank Hits the Century Mark
May 1, 2000 12:00 PM
FROM its start building wood and coal burning stoves, Brenner Tank Inc has evolved into a leading diversified manufacturer of cargo tanks. Still based in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, the company has been an industry innovator.
Today, Brenner produces a full line of cargo tanks constructed of stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminum. Products can be highly engineered on state-of-the-art computer design systems to meet some of the most exacting customer requirements.
"We believe we have built a product line that will make us a strong player as we enter our second hundred years," says Robert W Agnew, Brenner president. "Our focus is on continued product improvement, reliability, cost benefit, and reduced maintenance. We want to stay in the forefront of innovation."
The company certainly has come a long way since 1900, when Jacob Brenner opened a small tin shop in Fond du Lac and started building coal and wood burning stoves. By 1923, he had received a patent for an innovative leak-free Steel Weld gas furnace.
Diversification into the bulk industry started in the mid-1920s when portable milk cans were added to the product line. By the 1930s, open trucks carrying Brenner milk cans were a common sight throughout the Midwest.
The years during World War II took the company away from its core focus. Brenner produced rustproof, anti-magnetic gasoline tanks; landing craft prows, and kite otters for the US Navy.
In the 1950s, Brenner took a bigger step into transportation. Under Ted Brenner Sr, the company became a major producer of truck-mounted bulk milk tanks, led by the flagship brand, Brenner Milk-King.
David Brenner, chairman of Brenner Tank, remembers peddling new milk bobtails farm-to-farm in the late 1950s. He would leave Fond du Lac driving a new unit and would not return until it was sold. The trip home was usually by bus.
Other types of stainless steel cargo tanks were added, and construction began on a 16,000-square-foot plant addition in the 1960s. By the next decade, Brenner products were being sold throughout North and South America, and some tanks were even going to Europe.
With the purchase of Bar-Bel Fabricating Company, Maustin, Wisconsin, in 1986, carbon steel tanks were added to the line. Aluminum petroleum transports were added most recently and are being built in a 25,000-square-foot plant in Fond du Lac.
Today, tank design and manufacture are in the hands of a dedicated team that has access to state-of-the-art technology. The builder uses computer aided design, finite element analysis, and Pro/E Solid Modeling to engineer cargo tanks. In addition, some of the latest manufacturing technologies are on the shop floor.
Brenner has a CNC plasma seam welder that incorporates the latest plasma welding technology to reduce heat-affected zones, which improves the tank's corrosion resistance. A planisher automatically compresses and finishes welds. Brenner also has a dishing machine for forming its own heads.
Combined service and parts centers are in Maustin; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Houston, Texas. Additional parts centers have been opened in Memphis, Tennessee, and Ashland, Kentucky.
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