industries engineered innovation since 1878
“We’ve got pride in our past, our arms around today and our imagination on tomorrow.”
in our own words
[ a history ]
To past, present and future RIX Industries shipmates who conceive,
design, build, sell and service products for RIX’s worldwide industrial
and government clients, and ensure our continued success and leadership.
“We’re curious and
interested in applying
to our work.”
“We’ve got lots of different talent here, so we have lots of great solutions to work with.”
“I think “Compressors have a tough job to do,
innovation is and that requires that we build every one
why we come of them well. There is no room for error,
from design to shipping.”
1849–Joseph Kittredge starts a blacksmith shop, Phoenix Iron Works, in San Francisco making safes, locks and other ironwork. 1855–E.A. Rix born in San Francisco near the Palace Hotel
1851–Most of San Francisco is destroyed by fire.
1850–California admitted into the Union as 31st State / Levi Strauss makes first blue jeans in San Francisco
(Left) Box Compressor, circa 1910
(Above) Compressor Cart, circa 1923
“We take pride in what
we have accomplished,
but really look forward
to what is next.”
1876–Austin (E.A.) Rix, an adventurous and capable engineer, graduates from University of California.
1863–Fortifications are built on Angel Island by troops.
1875–Thomas A. Edison invents the light bulb. 1877–Edison announces his “talking machine” phonograph.
1878–E.A. Rix forms Rix and Firth with his uncle, Joseph K. Firth, to focus on his inventions. / E.A. Rix joins Jonathan Kittredge, building a range of products including locomotives, and major steel and iron structures.
1878–The American Speaking Telephone Company in San Francisco issues its first list of subscribers on a single sheetgraph.
the RIX story r the early years
RIX Industries was organized in 1878, and has operated con- try as a result of wide-spread municipal, railroad and California
tinuously since then, a relatively unmatched and exciting achievement Gold Rush-related construction projects.
in American industry. RIX manufactures a wide range of reciprocat- Like Levi Strauss and other young innovators attracted to the
ing piston compressors for industrial gases and breathing air opera- Gold Rush opportunity,E.A.Rix realized that the cumbersome and
tions, specializing in oil-free technology and high-pressure systems. dangerous steam and water-driven drilling equipment currently
Designing and building compressors to solve difficult problems in use could be replaced by more efficient and safer gas-powered
was what consumed the professional life of the company’s founder, sources. He was soon designing and building air compressors for a
Edward Austin (E.A.) Rix. That objective continues to be at the variety of applications and purposes, establishing a broad reputation
forefront of the company’s mission today. for reliability and functionality.
The company’s origins lie in the form of Phoenix Ironworks, Joseph Firth was a widely-recognized ironworks engineer from
a company created by mechanical genius and draftsman, Jona- Michigan. He distinguished himself as a machinist and draftsman
than Kittredge, in 1849 on the beaches of San Francisco. Phoenix in San Francisco, taking influential positions at the Almaden Quick-
was well-known as a manufacturer of safes and locks. Mr. Rix silver Mine, the Fulton Iron Works, and the Union Iron Works.
joined Kittredge after graduating from the then new University These companies were the “high-tech” firms of their
of California School of Engineering at Berkeley,and later day, as their designs and products were critical to the
married his daughter.The firm continued to manufacture construction of the city’s growing infrastructure and
various types of large machinery including locomotives, of other engineering projects. Firth, in particular, was
which they built ten in one year. deeply involved in designing the metal structure of
Partnering at the same time with his the Market and Sutter Street Cable Railway as well
uncle, Joseph Firth, they formed Rix & as the state-of-the-art Crocker Building.
Firth in 1878, and began to build com- This new partnership flourished and was located
pressed air and hydraulic driven ma- first at 396 Mission Street, San Francisco, then at 219-
chinery, which was a burgeoning indus- 221 Spear Street, almost at the edge of San Francisco
(Left) Gardner-Rix compressor, circa 1906; (above) Wheelhouse compressor, circa 1933
Circa 1880–E.A. Rix realizes danger of existing mining equipment, designs a safer steam-driven compressor to mine rock / First of many patents won
1880–George Hearst accepts a small daily newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner, as payment for a gambling debt. 1882–U.S. Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act, barring all Chinese immigration
Bay in 1890. In addition to being a leading manufacturer of com- the firm was then re-located in 1896 to (Background)
pressors and other heavy equipment, the company created the archi- a large facility at 225 First Street with machinery valued at $90,000. Panorama of
tectural ironwork on the Crocker Building on Market and Mont- The firm employed upwards of 100 machinists at that time. San Francisco
gomery, and the basic framework of other major structures. after the earth-
The tragic 1906 San Francisco earthquake did not spare the quake and fire
With the departure of Firth to focus on Phoenix Iron Works, Rix facilities as the ensuing fire totally destroyed their building of 1906;
E.A. established the Rix Compressed Air Machinery Company and and equipment. Fortunately, E. A. Rix had the foresight, unlike (from left to right)
many local executives, to insure against such losses. The company RIX factory on
moved briefly to Grass Valley where they continued manufac- Howard Street,
turing operations in the aftermath of the fire. Within a year, the 1923; Cart
company was flourishing again with a new name, Rix Compressed compressor,
Air and Drill Company, a new shop in Oakland and new offices circa 1925;
in San Francisco. RIX Compressed
Air and Drill Com-
Rix products found wide-ranging application in industry, even pany employees,
in Yosemite Park, where they were used to power various rock- circa 1900;
1885–Kittredge dies / Joseph Firth, a successful designer and iron-maker, joins / Company re-named Rix & Firth 1886–Rix & Firth constructs first of several locomotives
6 1886–Coca-Cola is invented by a pharmacist as a health tonic.
1885–Grover Cleveland is inaugurated as the 22nd president
drilling activities in a more nature-friendly fashion. An early and the remainder of the business became a subsidiary of Le-Roi-
defense role found Rix designing and building a unique, high- Westinghouse Air Brakes. Again renamed, this time as RIX
pressure compressor for a long-range Army coastal artillery em- Industries, the firm moved first to Bay Street in Emeryville, then
placement at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. While never used, to Hollis Street in that city.
this successful response to a military customer need propelled Rix
into other branches of the U.S. military, as well as with commercial The revitalized company continued to play a successful role
users of industrial gas applications around the country. providing a range of high-quality, custom-built compressors for
challenging industrial and military applications.
The San Francisco-based company continued to expand through
the ensuing years, finally relocating to Emeryville in 1964 as the
RIX Company, Inc., to allow for larger shop and office facilities.
In November, 1966 the company was divided into two firms.
Mr.Charles F.(Frank) DeWolf,then President of the RIX Company,
purchased the compressor design and manufacturing business,
1890–Rix & Firth employs 100 employees at 225 First Street 1891–Rix & Firth wins contract to construct iron for the Crocker Building / Firth buys out Rix’s shares of Phoenix Iron Works
1889–San Francisco is the site of first jukebox.
1895–First Rix military compressor used for pneumatic artillery 1896–Named Rix Compressed Air Machinery Company / Catalog #3 published
8 1896–Yosemite National Park is established.
1893–California enters a Depression.
“Most of our compressors
are custom-designed for
a very specific purpose.”
“Even the welds
matter. A lot.”
“It’s fun to check out the ancient
1906 compressor in the lobby and
then look at what I’m building.
Same principle but a much,
much better unit.”
(Far left) “How to Buy a Compressor” by E.A. Rix
(Left) RIX compressor, circa 1923
(Center) Compressor assembly schematic, circa 1950
(Right) Wheelhouse compressor, circa 1942
Early 1900s–E.A. Rix established as a leading engineer and speaker / Ingersoll, Gardner, LeRoi and other companies co-op with Rix’s compressor technological leadership 9
1897–California Depression solved by Klondike Gold Rush and Spanish American War
e.a. rix r founder of rix & firth
Edward Austin (E.A.) Rix was born and the mountains of California, he began
in San Francisco across the street from to design and manufacture more ecologically
the Palace Hotel (in what is now the responsible gas-driven compressors to perform
Oyster Bay House) in 1855 of German/ the same function with great initial success.
English immigrants. The family name During this time, E.A. married the daughter
had originally been Ricks, but was ap- of Mr. Kittredge.
parently changed with the family’s arriv- The company prospered and he formed
al in England. His father, Alfred, was a Rix and Firth in 1878 with his uncle, Joseph
noted West Coast pioneer and attorney. K. Firth, to focus on his inventions. This
Well-educated as an engineer at the relationship remained in place for many years
University of California, Berkeley, E.A. until Firth purchased E.A. Rix’s shares of
graduated in 1876. Rix was the kind of Phoenix Iron Works and left the company.
tinkerer who solved challenging indus- Finally on his own, E.A. established Rix
trial problems through perseverance and Compressed Air Machinery Company in 1896,
dedication. He reportedly only sold his and thenRixCompressedAir&DrillCompany
inventions when he needed money to Edward Austin [E.A.] Rix, circa 1920 in 1906, to better reflect the focus of his
remain in business. manufacturing operations and driving interest
He achieved early success joining a leading San Francisco firm, in designing and building superior industrial and military compressors.
Phoenix Iron Works, owned by Jonathan Kittredge, a successful Mr. Rix was a prolific inventor, obtaining many basic patents on com-
machinist and designer. They focused on building a range of infra- pressed air machinery. Engineering textbooks of the period contain numer-
structure iron works for local projects including the Cable Car ous citations of RIX patents and designs. He was also a prominent speaker
System, while E. A. took an interest in designing various and writer at gatherings of technical societies. Following his retirement,
machines and tools. Realizing the limitations of the dangerous Mr. Rix continued to “look in” on the firm, taking the ferry from Oakland,
steam and water-powered mining drills used throughout the city and being picked up by an employee for the short drive to the offices.
Early 1900s–E.A. Rix invents first portable compressor to be mounted on anything that moved—trucks, rail cars, tractors, etc.
1900–Oil discovered along the Kern River 1902–Trans-Pacific telephone cable connects Canada and Australia 1903–The Commonwealth Club of California is founded
He never lost his inquisitive and equipment made by other manu-
creative instincts. facturers. The company was then
managed by his daughter, Betty, and
In later years, many large his loyal employees.
companies, including LeRoi,
Ingersoll and Gardner, asked Today, RIX Industries continues
to license the RIX patents in to faithfully execute the professional
order to manufacture their legacy of Mr. Rix by building, market-
own brands of compressors. ing and servicing innovative and supe-
rior compressors for all types of applica-
Mr. Rix retired in 1923, tions and industries, including military,
and after his demise in 1929, one of the company’s earliest customers.
the company became primarily a construction supply
company and distributor of compressors and related (Above) 1920s vintage Logo Top Crown; (below) birthplace of E.A. Rix near Market Street in San Francisco,1855
1906-Company Headquarters at Spear Street destroyed in earthquake / Name changed to Rix Compressed Air & Drill Company 11
1906–San Francisco Earthquake
“RIX is small enough that you can actually make a difference.”
“We do some pretty cool things here.
“Yes, we build compressors...but what we really do is solve problems.”
1907–RIX is solvent and re-established in new San Francisco offices, plus a shop in Oakland. 1913–RIX manufactures the Pneumatic Dynamite Gun capable
1908–Henry Ford introduces the Model T ($825) 1912–H.M.S. Titanic sinks 1913–The Raker Act grants the City of San Francisco the right
“I learn new techniques all the time here. And people care about my opinion.”
I’m even allowed to talk about some of them.”
(Above) An array of technical drawings and catalog specs “We all but sign our compressors.”
from the early years of the RIX Company, Inc.
of sinking enemy combatants, without the dangerous use of mines, for use in San Francisco and New York Harbors / RIX produces portable rock-drilling equipment for the Department of Interior, for use in Yosemite Park. 13
to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley as a reservoir.
a “conversation” r with frank dewolf
“Mr. Rix retired when I was a newspaper boy (I later joined
the company as a machinist and married E.A. Rix’s daughter). I
knew his sons, Austin and Rex, better.
“Joseph Firth, E.A. Rix’s uncle, joined him in the late 1870s.
He was much older than E.A. (that’s what we all called him) and
an accomplished ironworks man. They ran a blacksmith shop on
Market Street. At that time, hydraulic mining was outlawed by the
State of California, so different equipment was used to prevent all
the water from draining into the valleys. They started Rix & Firth
in 1878 to build specialized drilling equipment that the two men
were so very adept at designing.
“E.A was a smart engineer from Cal (University of California
at Berkeley) with lots of vision. He was called a Civil Engineer
as opposed to a Military Engineer. That’s when civil engineering
came to be (if you were not military-trained). E.A. helped his
uncle build water wheels for mining equipment using a very unique
shape, and then began to make extensive improvements to the
compressors used in mining.
“His sons, Austin and Rex, worked at the company, but were
very different people. Rex was fun-loving and enjoyed sales and
driving his Stutz Bearcat automobile. It was a beauty. He liked to fish,
and on an outing, he caught pneumonia and died at the age of 45.
“Austin was an intense young man with a broad range of
engineering skills. He liked to tinker with machinery like his dad.
1914-RIX board members totals three, all family / RIX awarded contract for a high-pressure, multi-stage compressor for use in coastal artillery; results in numerous orders from industrial gas and military organizations
1915–Panama-Pacific International Exposition designed in San Francisco by architect, Bernard R. Maybeck
Austin was self-taught, and I remember E. A. saying he was not “I came back from WWII and visited the Mare Island Ship
even sure his son could read. However, you could show him a blue- Yard where many RIX compressors had been used. They welcomed
print for something and he would go and build it. Austin built me and that was the beginning of a long relationship with the Navy
the best horizontal compressor known, with excellent timing of and other military customers. I bought out the compressor business
all of the components. It had opposing cylinders and was huge— from the family in 1966, changed the name to RIX Industries, and
too huge, in fact, for most applications. Vertical compressors took began to run it with increasing success over the years.”
up less space, and as a result, E. A. Rix focused on vertical com-
pressors going forward. Based on a taped interview (late in his life) with
Frank DeWolf, second president of RIX Companies
“A freak accident occurred that cost Austin his arm and his
hearing. But that did not slow him down. He built a special lathe (Opposite left) Austin Rix on the golf course; (above) Frank DeWolf at his desk, circa 1980
in his basement and manufactured parts for RIX compressors.
An excellent golfer, Austin continued to play well single-handed.
“Mr. Rix retired when I was young, and spent a great deal of
time promoting his many patents. He depended on his daughter
and a few key employees to keep the company straight, a difficult
and sometimes unsuccessful, challenge. Mr. Rix would call up from
time to time, and have someone pick him up at the Ferry Building.
He would go into the offices and stir things up. Their accountant,
Mr. Hewitt, tried to run things with Ms. Rix, but the business
was not doing as well as it did under Mr. Rix. I got involved, in
fact I married his daughter, and it took me a year to get all the
parts numbers organized for hundreds of products, especially
the RIX 3-Cylinder 3600 psi compressor that I converted to a
1916-RIX moves to new Howard Street offices
1917-World War I begins 1919-Prohibition is ratified
“I was a customer fifteen years ago. Now, I’m an employee.”
“Be confident enough
to rock the boat a bit.”
1920–RIX manufactures ten 3-stage submarine compressors 1922–First RIX submarine compressor for U.S. H-Class Submarine 1923–E.A. Rix retires, but remains active in the company
1927–Charles Lindburgh flies from
“I like being one of the faces of the company.”
the other day that I have worked here over half of my life.”
“We are all ‘owners’ of our future.”
(Above) Graphic evolution the RIX Company logo and branding
1929–Main office located on Fourth Street, new offices in LA and Seattle / E.A. Rix dies / Company moves into construction / LeRoi assumes the manufacturing and design work 17
1929–Great Depression pummels the U.S. economy / Great Highway and Ocean Beach Esplanade completed in San Francisco
New York to Paris—non-stop
RIX r matures
During the mid-twentieth century, RIX Company had been
primarily a distributor of LeRoi compressors and equipment on the
West Coast with branches in San Francisco,San Jose and Sacramento.
In 1966, Betty Rix, E. A. Rix’s daughter, split the company up.
Frank DeWolf, her husband, first joined the company as a machinist
and was now the President of the overall RIX Company. In dividing
up the existing company, he purchased the design and manufac-
turing rights to Rix Compressors, and LeRoi-Westinghouse Air
Brakes purchased the construction rental business.
The company was re-named RIX Industries, and Mr. DeWolf
took a firm hand in guiding it forward from offices
at Hollis Street in Emeryville.
Virtually a new company, RIX Industries soon
developed specialized, custom-designed units,
and built compressors to meet the needs of both
industry and the U.S. Government.The U.S. Navy
was, and continues to be, the major buyer of com-
pressors within the military branches. RIX has
provided compressors for shipboard and aircraft
applications for many years with excellent results
and repeat business. Central to this success was
the development of the oil-free breathing air
compressor and other mission-critical products.
1930–RIX’s flagship compressor—the RIX Six—is replaced by a similar model from LeRoi
1936–The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens 1937–Golden Gate Bridge completed 1939–Golden Gate Exposition opens in San Francisco
(Above) The USS Carl Vinson in San Francisco Bay 19
(Inset far left) Schematic of the RIX NGEN-30S
(Inset left) RIX Marc 350 compressor 1945–Japan surrenders / United Nations charter signed in San Francisco
(Inset right) Nike-Hercules Missile
(Inset far right) 1952 letter from the Douglas Aircraft Company
1941–Pearl Harbor bombed by Japan; U.S. enters World War II
hughes glomar explorer
(Above) Hughes Glomar Explorer with extended “shipbucket”
(Opposite right) The RIX 5R5 75B compressor
1952–RIX manufactures compressors for LeRoi products / RIX receives contract from Douglas Aircraft to manufacture “compressors for missile capping”
1952–Bakersfield Earthquake / The Bay Area Educational Television Association forms the basis for KQED, one of the first public broadcasting companies.
Although government specifications are rigid, Among the many important and unique appli-
the outstanding RIX engineering staff, as well as the cations of RIX compressors was the company’s in-
company’s manufacturing and service experts, have volvement in the Glomar Explorer recovery opera-
consistently met and exceeded those specifications. tion of a sunken Russian nuclear submarine in 1968.
In addition to building compressors, RIX person- A special system to locate and retrieve nuclear war-
nel have distinguished the company by ensuring heads and top-secret messages and code books was
ready availability of replacement parts and on-site designed utilizing RIX components. The lives of
servicing of RIX products.
U.S. Navy personnel involved in this dangerous
The 1970s saw continued expansion with strong mission were dependent, in part, on the integrity
private sector and military contracts awarded for a and flawless operation of RIX compressors.
wide range of high-quality, long-life compressors and
related products. RIX created innovative small, portable Mr. Bert Otterson joined RIX in 1977
compressors for specialized applications within military and fire and purchased the company in 1987. Under his leadership, RIX
departments. Increased sales of production line products neces- Industries has expanded its government business and gained a
sitated the building of a 53,300 square foot assembly facility in prominent postion in defense and aerospace installations.
Sparks, Nevada in 1979. This plant focuses on producing high-
volume orders of established compressors. RIX moved its headquarters to Benicia, California in 1997.
Building the 47,700 square foot structure proved to be a wise choice
The emerging compressed natural gas industry (CNG) was as the expansion helped the company grow, both in employees and
another area where the company was able to apply compressor expanded product lines. The addition of aerospace products in the
technology to a burgeoning industry that wanted to reduce fuel 2000s catapulted the RIX business into even more government
emissions. Utility companies in Northern and Southern California, sectors, solidifying the RIX name with Navy Air. The company
fitted their fleets with RIX compressors to power their natural gas also takes pride in its substantial relationships and installations
transports. Later, a manufacturing plant was established in New with a broad range of commercial clients.
Zealand to meet the demand there for natural gas-powered com-
mercial and private vehicles. The owners and employees continue to uphold a tradition of
expertise in the design and manufacture of air and gas machinery
for advanced technology.
1953–RIX invoices Douglas Aircraft $554,000—53% of sales that year. 1955–62% of RIX’s business is now military with first ground support contract.
1953–Armistice Agreement is signed with North Korea. 1958–Explorer I, first American satellite, is launched.
uss gerald r. ford
RIX NGEN 30S in hangar bay forward
RIX MARC 350 in lower deck RIX Liquid Oxygen (LOX) in hanger bay
1966–The RIX Company moves plant to Emeryville. / Frank DeWolf purchases Company, changes name to RIX Industries / RIX supplies compressors for the famed
22 1966–The San Francisco Diggers distribute “free food” in the Haight-Ashbury
1965–First use of satellite TV
RIX NGEN 30S in hangar bay aft
RIX MARC 350 in hangar bay aft
Glomar Explorer expedition to raise a Russian nuclear sub near Midway Island 1968–RIX designs underwater compressed air pistol to warn Vietnam-based Navy SEALs of danger 23
1969–NASA’s Apollo program—first manned lunar landing and moon walk
boeing P8-a poseidon
RIX ROTEC 1
RIX ROTEC 2
1970–RIX compressors instrumental in “Blue Flame” achieving the world land speed record of 622.4 mph at Bonneville Salt Flats
1971–The Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18
RIX ROTEC 1
1972–RIX Industries moves to Hollis Street, Emeryville offices / First low-pressure air compressor (LPAC) installed on surface combatant ships, Grade A Class 2 Shock
1972–President Richard Nixon visits China; signs SALT I Treaty with Soviet Union. 1974–Watergate hearings lead to Nixon’s resignation
“Our stuff fills lots of
“We do things that other companies don't want to do—or can't do.” (Above) A sampling of RIX Industries marketing
materials showing product and specification sheets
1976–RIX manufactures over 200 compressors between 1976 and 1979 1977–Bert Otterson joins RIX Industries
1977–U.S. returns the Panama Canal to Panama
“We service what we sell,
often on a ship or submarine.”
“Quality is why our products sell.”
1979–Sparks, Nevada, plant established to distinguish production from custom products
1978–Camp David Accord ends conflict between Egypt and Israel 1979–Three Mile Island nuclear reactor accident
RIX r today
Headquartered at 4900 Industrial Way in the Benicia
Industrial Park, RIX Industries has 140 employees and occupies
a 47,720 square foot facility, which includes 28,408 square feet of
manufacturing space, 14,364 square feet of office space and 4,948
square feet of inventory. RIX’s second facility in Sparks, Nevada,
is slightly larger and manufactures a broad range of compressors.
There are four strategic business units: Commercial, Depart-
ments of Defense & Navy, Aerospace, and Aftermarket Services.
One of RIX’s primary strengths has been its family. RIX
employees are clearly the basis of the company’s success, year after
year, since 1878.
Some of the RIX “shipmates” have shared in its mission for
over thirty years. Some have left and then returned to help
the company move forward. RIX enjoys the support of multiple
family members who truly add to its “family” orientation. RIX
has broad employee diversification, bringing an enduring engi-
neering, construction, R&D, shipping, service, administrative
and executive “can-do” attitude to its mission.
RIX Industries operates with hard-earned ISO 9001, MIL
SPEC and AS9100 certifications.
(Top right) RIX JFB “Blue Shirt” management team in 2004; (bottom right) Entrance to RIX
Industries at 4900 Industrial Way, Benicia, California; (inset) RIX Industries compressor face
plate; (opposite page) 2015 aerial photo of the 60,000 square foot headquarters of RIX
Industries; (opposite top right) Sparks, Nevada, plant interior, opened in 2003
1982–RIX sells 250 large compressors to CNG in New Zealand for compressed liquid gas applications
1980–U.S. boycotts Moscow Olympics over invasion of Afghanistan by U.S.S.R.
1984–RIX establishes a repair facility at Norfolk, VA 1987–Bert Otterson purchases RIX Industries 29
1984–Apple introduces the Macintosh personal computer 1986–NASA’s space shuttle Challenger disaster
1990–5R5 and Star Products marketed 1997–RIX establishes large new plant at Benicia, CA
30 1997–Google is founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin
1989–Loma Prieta earthquake shakes the San Francisco Bay Area
RIX r customers
This is what RIX is all about—satisfying customers’ ever-
changing and ever-more-demanding requirements for world-class
design and construction of an array of compressors in stand-alone
and systems applications.
Among the company’s customers (pictured to the left) are
the United States Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard,
Hughes Aerospace, Lawrence Livermore Labs, Mil-
itary Sealift Command, Department of Energy,
Homeland Security, Department of the Interior,
NATO, NOAA and others.
RIX does work for the Geologic Survey, Geo-
physical Services, Inc., Geosource, Inc., National
Oceanographic Authority and other such organizations.
In its work with the petroleum industry, RIX in-
cludes Standard Oil of California, Shell Oil Co., Phillips Petro-
leum, Union Oil, Conoco, Amoco, Arco, Dow Chemical, DuPont,
Liquid Carbonic and Caltex.
Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Chrysler Corp., U.S.
Steel,Cameron Iron Works,Boeing,Inc.,Lockheed Aerospace and
International Nickel are also customers.
Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Campbell Soups, and Proctor
& Gamble utilize RIX products.
Industrial gas companies, including Praxair, Union Carbide,
Airco,Scott Industrial Gases,Liquid Air Co.and Liquid Carbonics,
benefit from incorporating RIX compressors in their systems.
2001–RIX receives contract for MARC-350 units to be installed on aircraft carriers
2001–George W. Bush elected president through electoral college rather than popular vote / Terrorists fly hijacked airplanes into Manhattan’s World Trade Center twin towers
R I X r i m p o r t a n t c h a n g e s
Since 1878, many important changes have taken place in the engineers already knew ninety percent of what had to be (Above left) NGEN
compressor industry, as well as with RIX Industries. done; customize something they knew well. Today’s world undergoing testing
is different. RIX has a great reservoir of highly-detailed in test bay at Benicia
The most important change in RIX’s history was moving from computer-designed plans, so that anyone, even a new staff- headquarters;
oil-lubricated to oil-free to oil-less technology: This was an important er, can go to work with confidence in the process. (inset left) RIX
environmentally-advanced innovation early on. Founder E.A. Rix Industries uniform;
designed and produced custom, state-of-the-art compressors for a A more coordinated relationship between sales, engineer- (inset right) RIX patent;
wide range of military and industrial applications, and that contin- ing and manufacturing: This helps ensure that RIX is able (above center) QC
ues to be the company’s primary mission. to profitably bid on and build the best compressor solutions personel working on
for its customers. a SABRE yolk with
The focus on innovation as a shared mission is the most valuable coordinate measuring
corporate initiative to occur in recent years: To fully anticipate and An exciting mix of seasoned “pros” and newer employees: machine [CMM Arm];
respond to customer needs and demands, RIX must constantly stay Over time, RIX has benefitted from having a large num- (opposite page) IMG
“ahead of the curve” by anticipating and designing for changing ber of long-term experts as well as attracting newer people 3371: Navy and DoD
markets, design integrity and product improvement. The company with diverse ethnic and professional backgrounds. While departments standing
recognizes that technical innovation leadership has to be done at in front of the Liquid
the individual, department and corporate levels to be of maximum Oxygen (LOX) plants
benefit to its mission. before shipment
The advent of the Market Integrated Team system: As client re-
quirements increased, the division of the company into MITs was
instituted with good results. Now, Commercial, Departments of
Defense & Navy and Aerospace customers have dedicated teams,
all of which are supported by the Aftermarket Services MIT.
“Tribal knowledge” has yielded over time to computerized design
methodology: There was a time when a drawing on a napkin was all
that was needed to head to the shop to build a compressor. RIX-
2002–RIX receives contract for N-Gen Nitrogen units for government applications / RIX teams with Chinese firm to provide compressors for a range of applications in China
2002–New U.S. cabinet Department of Homeland Security created
a n d i m p r o v e m e n t s
respectful of the way things have always been done, the newer ar- RIX is responding to their more technical and challenging re-
rivals have made real contributions to improving the way all RIX quests with the best product solutions in the industry.
employees design, test, ship and support a wide range of products.
Recruiting top engineers and manufacturing experts is one of the More quality control applied at all points in the process: This has
company’s greatest strengths, cultivating a team that will drive RIX resulted in the ability to solve potential problems earlier in the
towards the future. design and manufacturing process, resulting in vastly enhanced
product quality and efficiency.
Faster response to customer needs with rapid R&D and proto-
typing, as well as faster and better qualified suppliers: In the constant More space to work in: The spacious Benicia and Sparks facili-
quest to build compressors with superior quality and integrity, ties offer RIX expanded manufacturing, testing and office spaces.
RIX constantly seeks out suppliers, both large and small, remote Some employees remember the old Emeryville building where the
and local, to provide on-time, on-spec components. roof leaked and the noise level was high.
More numerous, more demanding and more sophisticated national Employee families: RIX has been blessed by having a “family
and international customers: Especially with Aerospace customers, feeling.” This is clearly seen in the several instances of multiple
members of a family actively contributing to the company’s mis-
sion and success. This is one of the “small, but important satisfac-
tions” of working at RIX.
AS9100, MILSPEC and ISO9001 qualifications as well as
other modern management tools and computers: RIX benefits from
these certifications, which are emblematic of the company’s adher-
ence to critical industry product process control and manufactur-
“Change” is an important part of RIX’s individual, team and
corporate profiles. What has not changed is the company’s focus
on needs and customization, if required. Reliability is assured
and customer support is never questioned.
2003–RIX “goes small” and introduces helium version of the popular Microboost compressor to join the oxygen version for use by divers 33
2003–NASA’s space shuttle Columbia explodes upon re-entry into Earth’s atmopsphere / U.S. invades Iraq over alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction
RIX r the four teams
Although RIX Industries produces various compressor
product lines with specific, well-defined capabilities, it is the
custom-engineered compression equipment that often wins
staunch supporters and a steady supply of repeat business.
Customers come to RIX with a wide variety of application
requirements regarding gas compression that other
manufacturers’ standard equipment just won’t quite
fulfill. RIX has built a strong reputation solving
these problems and creating gas compression sys-
tems for commercial, industrial, oxygen and hy-
drogen compressors that are unique and exactly
suited to the particular situation.
RIX’s staff of engineers has designed
various new technologies, such as the
“swash plate,” and the company holds a
number of patents. Not satisfied to simply
follow traditional methods,RIX has devel-
oped many new and more reliable compres-
sion technologies using—and in some (Above) RIX-2JS4 Four-Stage Compressor
cases, actually defining—“state-of-the-art.” (Opposite right) Oil and gas processing plant
2004-2005–ROTEC I and SABRE products unveiled; first aerospace contract awarded 2005–RIX Industries attends Paris Air Show
2003–Austrian body builder and actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, elected Governor of California
2006–RIX begins shipping high-pressure, oil-free compressors to Naval Air to produce 99.5% pure nitrogen for diving activities
2006–U.S. population reaches 300 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2008–Barack Obama becomes first African American President of the United States
Departments of Defense & Navy
The men and women who fight for the preservation of
freedom throughout the world deserve the very best that industry
can provide. Many of the early RIX compressors were used in mil-
itary applications, driving the company to design and produce oil-
free compressor systems for air, land and sea applications, as well as
other environments, providing trustworthy equipment and eco-
nomic benefits to all its customers. Reliability, innovation and
experience have been, and continue to be, pillars of RIX’s stan-
dards of excellence for all products and customer care.
RIX has equipment on one-third of all ships in the Navy fleet,
as the company has been an active supplier to the federal govern-
ment for more than 90 years. RIX units have played a big role in
the upcoming launch of the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the
Gerald R. Ford. RIX compressors and nitrogen-generation systems
have been put on board more than 25 classes of Navy ships, from
destroyers to cruisers, as well as Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft
carriers, amphibious assault ships and Seawolf-class and Virginia-
class submarines, as well as the newer aircraft carriers.
(Above) RIX 5R5-75B schematic
(Below) RIX NGEN30-S compressor
(Left) 1st Stage Head for a RIX 5R5 compressor
(Opposite right) U.S. Navy destroyer
2009–RIX begins shipping a total of 1600 high-reliability ROTEC and SABRE Series aerospace compressors to the U.S. Navy
2009–American International Group declares a loss of $99.3 billion forcing U.S. government bailout
2010–Ground combat vehicle market develops 37
2010–British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon explosion in Gulf of Mexico creates the largest off-shore oil spills in U.S. history
Since 2009, when RIX began delivering 1,600 aerospace
systems to the U.S. Navy, the company’s clean gas compressors
have found numerous applications in a range of advanced systems,
including missile cooling and Pneumatic Release Sonobuoy Launch-
ing on the new P8 Poseidon Navy Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft.
Aerospace represents a major opportunity for growth and
innovation for RIX Industries in the future.
(Right) F-35 Lightning II deploying air
to ground missiles; (center) Former
Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel,
in cockpit of the US Navy P8 Poseidon
flight simulator; (opposite right) RIX
Industries Aftermarket Services support
technician on the job
2011–ROTEC III Introduced / RIX Industries provides SA-6 breathing compressor for Wounded Warrior therapy in Monterey Bay
2011–Boston crime boss, James “Whitey” Bulger is found and arrested by federal authorities in Santa Monica
Total customer satisfaction is top priority at RIX Industries.
Highly responsive product support is provided before, during and
after products are designed, manufactured and shipped to custom-
ers. This support continues throughout the warranty period and
beyond, through the entire useful life of RIX products.
2013–RIX compressors installed on the super-carrier, U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford 39
2013–Edward Snowden, former National Security Agency employee, leaks to press that NSA has been spying on U.S. citizens over the Internet
RIX r the future
President Bert Otterson looks to the future of RIX Industries
They say that in order to move forward successfully, you have to 2. Champion innovation in every aspect of how we think about
look back at your origins for insights into what works in your favor. our customers, ourselves and how we approach and execute our jobs.
I knew that our founder, E.A. Rix, was a creative and resourceful 3. Expand our technological expertise in every aspect of our
engineer and inventor. I also learned that he had the foresight to work—new products, new designs, components sourcing, sales
fully insure his growing company against fire and other disasters, in management and customer care—to name a few.
sharp contrast to his fellow San Francisco industrialists.
4. Confirm that every fellow employee, customer, project or
Following the havoc and destruction of the 1906 San Francisco marketplace opportunity is deserving of our best and finest contribu-
earthquake and fire,Rix Compressed Air Machinery Company was tions and support.
able to weather the storm financially and was back in business with-
in months under a new forward-thinking moniker, Rix Compressed I invite you to continue to share and support the RIX family,
Air & Drill Company. business, customers and mission as you have every day leading
It is with E.A. Rix’s foresight and planning in mind that we
celebrate our past and present,and look to our future with optimism Thanks for being a part of our history,
I believe there are four components to our forward thinking:
1. Recognize, own and promote the company’s core values as
described in our Purpose Statement.
By 2014, RIX enjoys 80% repeat business rate among its customers
2014–Tesla begins to sell Model S, the premium performance electric sedan, to the public
RIX r pride and purpose statement
RIX Means Engineered Innovation
Determined for Excellence Today, Prepared for Growth Tomorrow
O U R VA L U E S
We share pride in our team, our purpose, our products, our tenacious problem solving
and our determination to make things right. Our strong history and reputation for
engineering and manufacturing quality compressors and gas generators is important
to us and our customers.
O U R B E LI E F S / W H AT W E WA N T F O R O U R S E LV E S
We believe in our today and our tomorrow, our present and our future. We like what we
do and we are good at it. Our goal is to move forward and expand our product horizons
while maintaining the basic beliefs that supported us since 1878. We will achieve this
through working in a structure that recognizes individual initiative, total team effort
and consistent project success. We are determined to be stellar at pneumatics/gas com-
pression and related technologies.
E N G I N E E R E D I N N OVAT I O N I S O U R M I S S I O N
At the end of the day, every day, we take pride in our individual and corporate willing-
ness to learn, innovate and succeed.
By 2015, RIX compressors are mounted in over one-third of the U.S. Navy fleet including Virginia Class Fast Attack Submarines 41
2015–SpaceX guides a reusable rocket safely back to Earth
Dana Otterson: Strategic Resource Development
Elizabeth Schroeder: Marketing Specialist
Winona Connors: Historical Advisor
Peter Engler: Creative Director/Writer
Tom Joyce: Art Director/Designer
Ruth Schwartz: Editor/Print Production Manager
Photo and illustration credits:
(pps.6-7) Panorama of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire, courtesy of Library of Congress
(pps.18-19) U.S.S. Carl Vinson, by Lt.j.g. Pete Lee (released), courtesy U.S. Navy
(p.19 inset) Nike-Hercules Missile, courtesy U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command
(p.20) U.S.A. Hughes Glomar Explorer drawing, courtesy Shipbucket.com
(pps.22-23) Rendering of CVN-78 U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, U.S. Navy illustration, courtesy Northrop Grumman
(pps..24-25) Boeing P-8A Poseidon cutaway poster © Flightglobal
(p.30 inset) Praxair gas truck, courtesy Distributed Photo, ST
(p.30 inset) U.S. Coast Guard ship, courtesy U.S.C.G.
(p.30 inset) Johnson Space Center, courtesy NASA
(p.31 inset) Oil and gas processing plant, photo © Huyangshu, courtesy Shutterstock
(p.31 inset) U.S. Geological Survey scientist on Mount St. Helens, photo courtesy Mike Poland
(p.35) Oil and gas processing plant, photo © Huyangshu, courtesy Shutterstock
(p.37) U.S. Navy Destroyer, photo courtesy U.S. Navy
(p.38) F-35C Lightning II, carrying two internal AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapons, courtesy Lockheed Martin
(pps.38-39) Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in cockpit of a US Navy P-8 Poseidon, courtesy Glenn Fawcett. (released)
(verso, p.4, p.32, p.39, p.43) photos by Tom Joyce/Creativewerks
All other photographs and technical illustrations are from the archives of RIX Industries.
© Copyright 2016, RIX Industries, 4900 Industrial Way, Benicia, California 94510, USA • 707.747.5900 • www.rixindustries.com