Rain Bird is celebrating the filing of the patent for its first product, the Horizontal Action Impact Drive Sprinkler Head, 75 years ago, December 18, 1933. That first sprinkler revolutionized the food production industry and ushered in a new era in irrigation. Over the ensuing seven decades, Rain Bird has been awarded more than 130 patents for its innovative irrigation technology focused on effective, efficient and responsible irrigation through the Intelligent Use of Water.
Rain Bird’s founders Clem and Mary LaFetra recognized the potential of this device, which was invented by their neighbor and citrus farmer Orton Englehart in 1932. Clem LaFetra urged Englehart to file a patent for the invention, which he subsequently did in 1933. However, Englehart preferred farming, and in 1935 he sold the business to LaFetra, whose family still operates the Southern California-based company today.
While Rain Bird initially focused on making irrigation products for use on citrus crops, one of the company’s first commercial customers in the early ’30s was the Los Angeles Country Club. Today, 75 years later, Rain Bird sprinklers, valves and controllers are used to manage outdoor water use in varied applications; amusement parks, sports arenas, golf courses, botanical gardens, private homes, farms and vineyards; both domestically and internationally.
“We’re very proud of the pioneering role Rain Bird has played in irrigation,” says Director of Corporate Marketing, Dave Johnson. “Nearly eight decades later, we continue to strive for improvements to the efficiency of outdoor water management by providing products and services that use this precious resource as intelligently as possible.”
In 1990, the American Society of Agricultural Engineers designated the Rain Bird Impact Drive Sprinkler Head as a historic landmark of agricultural engineering. The Rain Bird sprinkler was recognized for its major impact on worldwide agricultural development and the efficient use of water in sprinkler irrigation. This invention led to sprinkler irrigation development that currently exceeds 50 million acres worldwide.
Since its entrance into the marketplace, Rain Bird has become the largest manufacturer of irrigation systems in the world. Rain Bird manufactures and sells over 4,000 irrigation products, meeting the needs of growers, golf course superintendents, homeowners, contractors and commercial property managers — in over 130 countries.
Today, Rain Bird is committed to The Intelligent Use of Water and is dedicated to educating the public about water conservation and its critical role in the environment. Since 1997, Rain Bird has taken that message to be heard and seen worldwide with its annual participation in the Tournament of Roses Parade, exhibiting its beautiful and inventive floats to draw global attention to the importance of water to all animal species and natural habitats. The 2009 Rose Parade will mark the company’s 13th year of participation in this New Year’s Day tradition in Pasadena, Calif.
“It is a celebratory year for us,” adds Johnson. “The anniversary underscores our ongoing commitment to leveraging our expertise and innovative technologies to drive the message of water conservation globally.”
More information on the invention of the original horizontal action impact drive sprinkler and Rain Bird’s history can be found in the Rain Bird Virtual Museum, at http://www.rainbird.com/about/museum