All of this seems a long journey from a cold winter's day in Minneapolis in 1926, when Russell Gray, then a parking lot attendant, figured there had to be a better way to lubricate cars than by using hand-operated grease guns. The temperature that day had dropped so low, the grease was impossible to move.
To meet that need he developed a grease gun powered by air pressure. Favorable reaction from service station owners and a growing automobile market led Russell and his brother, Leil, to form a business to market Russell's new grease gun. The result was Gray Company, Inc., which generated sales of $35,000 during its first year of operation.
During the next two decades Russell and Leil guided the company through sustained growth, primarily with lubrication pumps for automobiles. Russell was said to be the inventive force behind the firm; Leil, as the company's first president, provided the business acumen.
By the start of World War II Gray Company was doing one million dollars in sales. The firm responded to the new demands and opportunities presented by America's rapid defense buildup with a variety of new lubricating products. When the war ended, management realized it could apply its fluid-handling expertise to many areas other than just automobile servicing.