About The Tokheim Company
In 1887, John J. Tokheim immigrated to the United States from Norway at the age of 16. He paid for his passage by working on an Iowa farm for the first 10 months he was here. He continued on doing farm work and going to school for the next few years. He served as a sheet metal worker apprentice for one year, which earned him a sum of $50.00. Mr. Tokheim earned room and board by sweeping the tin shop, plumbing shop and hardware store after closing hours. The next two years were devoted to school in the winter and working at the tinner's trade in the summer. Mr. Tokheim completed a six-month course at a commercial business college in Des Moines Iowa before starting his own tin shop in 1896 located in Thor, Iowa.
In 1898 Mr. Tokheim conceived the idea to safely store gasoline underground outside the store building. He built a tank for that purpose, buried it underground and piped it to the store where he attached a pump. This led to the invention of the "Visible Measuring Pump" which was patented in January of 1901. Following the patent of this invention, underground gasoline storage was universally adapted.
Mr. Tokheim formed a corporation called The Tokheim Manufacturing Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to market and manufacture his invention. Within ten years he had built it up to a nationally known business. He also invented many other products during this time. Among them were the first known underground Naphtha system for dry cleaners and paint oils used by implement manufacturers. The hand pumping outfits led to his inventions of electric operated power pumps, including predetermined automatic stop measuring attachment.
A Vacuum system for raising and measuring acidic liquids was invented and patented by Mr. Tokheim in 1901. By 1907, Mr. Tokheim had another invention patented that was the liquid level Tank Gauge. Two multi millionaires bought all of the outstanding stock of the company in 1910 and by 1911 had pushed Mr. Tokheim out. He immediately began a new business and continued to invent equipment to fill the needs of the petroleum market. Mr. Tokheim passed the company to his only daughter Agnes, who ran the company until her retirement. The Tokheim Company was purchased by Thomas A. Barnes in 1994 and moved to Marion Iowa where it is still in operation today.