Thomas L. Sturtevant recognized the need for mechanization in the fertilizer industry and founded the Sturtevant Mill Company in the state of Maine in 1883. His first unit was a Rock Emery Mill. Not long before the turn of the 19th century, the company moved to Dorchester, Massachusetts, where it remained until 1998 when it moved to its current location in Hanover, Massachusetts.
An Idea Ahead of its Time
In an effort to limit human exposure to harmful fumes and acids common to the processes involved in the manufacture of fertilizers, Mr. Sturtevant designed the Mechanical Den and Excavator, a machine that would revolutionize the batch processing of super phosphate.
During the late 1800s Laurance H. Sturtevant, a son of the founder, and Thomas J. Sturtevant, his nephew, joined the firm. T.J. Sturtevant, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a remarkable engineer and inventor; his genius, coupled with the design, application, and administrative talents of the other Sturtevants, provided the new Company its initial thrust.
Innovation and Diversification
In the early 1900s, the Company advanced designs for crushing and grinding, blending and mixing, and related materials-handling equipment. A venture into the automotive field began in 1904 when T.J. Sturtevant designed an automatic transmission. Together with the Sturtevant designed internal combustion engine, automatic lubrication, vacuum brakes, and a body manufactured by another firm, the Sturtevant Automatic Automobile, the world’s first automatic, was marketed for upwards of six thousand dollars.
Other diversifications included a bale pulper for the paper industry and stainless steel control valves for industrial purposes.
In 1920, the Company took over the Newaygo Screen Company. In re-designing those products, Sturtevant was able to add a vibratory screener to its line, so that the Company could now supply complete fertilizer plants, wholly engineered by Sturtevant.
Out of the Depths of the Depression, a Burgeoning Business in Cement
Further engineering skill led to the development of the Air Separator. At this same time, the science of cement manufacture was evolving. In 1930, a contest between Sturtevant and another important manufacturer for the favor of a major cement producer proved the Sturtevant unit superior. For the next several decades, the “Closed Circuit” method of making cement was dominant, and Sturtevant Air Separators helped lead the way.
War Years; Defense and Chemicals
During World War II, Sturtevant participated in the defense effort by making parts for local naval yards. In addition, Sturtevant was given high priority to secure materials for the manufacture of its equipment for use in the chemical industries.
In the post war era, the cement industry grew continually, calling for more Air Separators. In the late 1950s, massive reconstruction and expansion in that industry caused Sturtevant to work at a feverish pace to meet the demands of its customers.
Enter the Micronizer®
Also during the 1950s, Sturtevant introduced an ultrafine grinder, the Micronizer®. This fluid energy mill opened up many new and promising markets. The same decade saw the development of two more pulverizers which were intermediate to the older crushers and the Micronizer®, representing a relatively new concept of fine grinding by impact.
Quality, Service and Expertise
In 1973, Sturtevant acquired the North Attleboro Foundry, in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. In 1979, the Sturtevant Processing Division was instituted. The Processing Division functions as an arm of the research and development effort of the Company as well as provides specialized grinding services to customers.
The Air Separator Evolves
During the 1980s, global cement manufacturing underwent a massive technological revolution. As usual, Sturtevant was on the leading edge, with the SD High Efficiency Classifier. The SD reduced power consumption, produced higher yields and was easily variable to produce different grades of product from a single milling circuit.
The 1990s saw the advancement of processing machines from massive, relatively crude crushers to ever more specialized, constantly finer equipment. Sturtevant innovated its air swept PulverMill and Air Separator technologies into a single unit known as the Powderizer, an air swept and air classifying mill. The Powderizer advanced the state of the art in minerals and chemicals processing as well as many dry foodstuffs by allowing the mechanical processing of even heat sensitive materials to ultrafine levels.
Since our earliest years, Sturtevant has been an international force, having offices or representation on all continents. Please see our Representative Finder page for information about our current representatives. With equipment in virtually every country in the world, we helped enable the advancement of materials processing globally long before globalization became popular. Commitment to international business remains one of our core values.
Tradition Provides Stability in a World of Rapid Change
The tradition of family management has been maintained at Sturtevant, Inc. from its inception to the present. T.L. Sturtevant was its manager from its founding to 1920, followed by his son Laurance H. Sturtevant, whose grandson, William Sturtevant English, has occupied the position of Chairman of the Board since the death of his father, Clayton F. English, in 1978. Currently William Sturtevant English, Jr., manages the company, preserving for a fifth generation the tradition of family.
Industrial Revolution to Information Revolution
Since its founding in 1883 at the height of the American Industrial Revolution, Sturtevant has conducted its business in cooperation with its customers. Thomas J. Sturtevant’s engineering diary contains records of conversations with customers as T.J. was learning about their processes and their business, to help them optimize their processes. T.L Sturtevant published a business manual to assist customers in maximizing their operations.
Today, we utilize the Internet to communicate but are still asking the same questions about your processes and still are more interested in maximizing your operation. Regardless of the changes going on in the world around us, we remain committed to providing the best information available to our customers.
Into the 21st Century
Though the pace of change has accelerated and the world has shrunk through the information revolution, Sturtevant remains steadfast in helping customers and producing the highest quality, most innovative materials-processing equipment. The Micronizer® line now includes the world’s first USDA accepted jet mill, the new in 2002 “Qualification Micronizer®,” and newer developments yet to be announced. The Air Separator line includes a superfine variant and another new technology yet to be unveiled in the near future. The Powderizer line has recently been awarded another patent for a Sturtevant innovation. After only 120 years, four generations of family management, thousands of happy customers, and uncounted innovations, we are only just getting started. Come back often; there is bound to be something new.