HISTORY AND PRESERVATION
HISTORY OF THE VORTOX
Vortox Manufacturing Company founder, Herman H. Garner, was born in Maryville, Tennessee on June 16, 1886, later moving to Southern California to attend Pomona College in 1906. Following his graduation from Pomona College, Garner enrolled in the Sibley College of Engineering at Cornell University, where he earned his master’s degree in 1912. Upon returning to Southern California, Garner worked as a draftsman for the Pomona Manufacturing Company, where he helped design and build tractors.
While completing field tests on a tractor in 1916, Garner designed and developed a new type of air filter that prevented dust from entering the engine through the carburetor. By 1918, Garner had secured a patent for the “Vortox Air Cleaner” (named after the air filter’s vortex-like swirling air action) and established the Pomona Air Cleaner Company. Operating on Gordon Street in Pomona, the Pomona Air Cleaner Company manufactured air filters for agricultural
equipment used in the citrus industry, later developing and producing the first oil bath air cleaner for tractor engines in 1922. The Pomona Air Cleaner Company went through a rebranding in 1924, renaming itself the Vortox Manufacturing Company after its popular air filter.
THE MOVE TO CLAREMONT
With the expiration of the company’s lease in the fall of 1927, Vortox moved its offices and manufacturing plant to Claremont. The move was considered to be a homecoming of sorts, as the Vortox Company and its air filter had been founded and invented by a Claremont man in Herman Garner. Beginning construction on the new office and manufacturing center in January of 1928, the complex would be situated just south of Claremont’s commercial center on a five-acre plot of land south of the Santa Fe Railroad tracks at the corner of Santa Fe Street and Alexander Avenue (now Indian Hill Boulevard).
The Vortox Company was a key contributor to the U.S. war efforts during World War II
The Vortox Manufacturing Company consistently received excellent ratings for their air filter’s dust-removing efficiency, and the company quickly established itself as a leading business enterprise in Claremont. Vortox’s premier reputation in the automotive, agricultural, and heavy machinery industries led them to receive commissions for its products from companies like International Harvester of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and saw an increase in international shipments to companies in France, England, Italy, Denmark, and Australia. The Vortox Company was a key contributor to the U.S. war efforts during World War II and the Korean Conflict, serving as a principle designer and manufacturer of oil bath air cleaners used on tanks and armored vehicles. Later in the 1950s, Vortox helped influence automotive and machinery industry standards, partnering with other industry groups to establish the basic specifications for all air filtration devices used globally in automotive, industrial, agricultural, and military applications.