Story of Roots®

Roots has been a part of the United States industrial scene for over 170 years.

The principle of the rotary lobe blower was discovered by two brothers, Francis and Philander Roots. The Roots brothers’ father established a woolen mill in Oxford, OH before opening a second mill in Connersville, IN due to its convenient location on the Whitewater Canal, linking Cincinnati to Indianapolis and Chicago. To this day, Roots operates in Connersville, IN, a town dubbed “The Birthplace of the Blower.” Philander managed the new mill in Connersville. When their father had died, Francis decided to close the Oxford mill and join his brother Philander in Connersville. The brothers had many ventures outside of the woolen mill, and they both found success in the furniture industry, hydraulic industry, and banking, making their mark as respected figures in the Connersville community.


While redesigning their main machinery driver in the woolen mill, the Roots brothers experimented with many designs to find what might be most reliable and effective for their operation. One of their ideas consisted of two wooden lobes, each in the shape of a figure-eight paddle, which would revolve in opposite directions when water was forced past them. This turned a shaft and provided power to operate their machinery. However, the wood swelled due to the moisture and the device was not successful as a water turbine, but two patents were obtained for water turbines applying this principle.

While running the machine dry to refine the design, the discharge of air suddenly blew one of their hats into the air, demonstrating the incredible ability of the device to move air at a high rate. This was the first Roots rotary lobe blower. Patents were obtained as the rotary lobe blower helped to expand the Roots operation.

At an exhibition in Paris in 1867, the Roots blower was granted the highest award for design, workmanship, material, and efficiency prior to be patented in 1868. The blower also received accolades again in 1873 at the Vienna Exhibition for machinery in its classification and took first place during the U.S. Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia along with many others awards and accolades.


Over time, the designs became more sophisticated and the projects and industries that the lobe blower were applied to exploded. One of the most spectacular early uses of the Roots blower was in the subway system in New York City. The machine had an iron shell that was 21.5 feet high and impellers 16 feet long, and was dubbed “The Western Tornado,” producing 100,000 cubic feet per minute at 60 RPM. Roots continued to expand operations, developing air and gas blowers for every industry, including steel plants, smelters, refineries, gas words, food and chemical plants, water and wastewater treatment plans, paper, and textile mills.

The company went through several ownership changes over its many years of operation. It originally started under the name “P. H. and F. M. Roots Company.” In 1893, a Roots employee broke off and started the Connersville Blower Company. The two companies merged in 1929 in a purchase under the control of the Stacy Engineering Company. One of Stacy’s products was centrifugal pumps and the combination of this technology with the Roots rotary lobe blower was a perfect fit. In 1944, the company was acquired by Dresser Industries who would maintain ownership until the late 90s when Dresser Industries, Inc. was acquired by Halliburton. After three years, Halliburton then divested the manufacturing businesses which included Roots. This new company was called Dresser Inc. and was owned by investment banks until being acquired by GE in 2011 including Roots. GE broke the Roots business out individually and sold it to Colfax. Colfax added Roots to their Howden group. Colfax sold Howden along with Roots in 2019 to KPS private equity group. KPS sold Howden to Chart Corp in 2023 and Chart Corp separated the Roots business which was integrated into the Ingersoll Rand family of brands in 2023.


Roots continues to this day to make high quality blower and compressor products with use across a wide variety of industries and applications. As America’s oldest blower brand, we have provided industry-leading expertise in blowers and compressors for over 170 years and continue to operate at a high level for our customers. We hope you enjoyed learning about the storied history of Roots and we’re excited to work with you.