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Local water and irrigation company celebrates 40 years of business

Business & Money

American Pump Co. at 10758 North Yellowstone Highway in Idaho Falls celebrated its 40th anniversary Wednesday. Learn more about the company’s history in the video above. | Photo taken from Google, Oct. 2021

UCON – A local irrigation and pump supply company is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week.

American Pump Co. at 10758 North Yellowstone Highway in Ucon held a customer appreciation event Wednesday in honor of the occasion.

American Pump Co. is a full-service water irrigation company that specializes in pumps, pivots, motors and machining. It services and repairs water pumps for farmers, municipalities, homeowners and other customers throughout Idaho, Utah, Montana and Wyoming. Some of its biggest clients are the Idaho National Laboratory, Mickelsen Farms and Schwendiman Farms.

Sales Manager Jacob Hancock tells his dad, Nathan, founded the company in the 1980s.

“In 1981, him and one of his friends, Val Brizzee, decided they wanted to start their own business,” Jacob says.

It originally opened under the name Water West Irrigation and focused solely on servicing pumps. The company was a success and continued to grow. Then in 1989, Nathan saw a need to offer additional services and decided to break up the partnership.

“They still worked together but they continued on with their own businesses,” says Jacob. “When he separated, it became American Pump Co. He started a machine shop and later purchased a motor rewind shop and got into pivot repairs, house pumps and eventually government work. Every few years, we just kept growing into other areas.”

water west irrigation truck
An old Water West Irrigation Truck sometime in the 1980s. | Screenshot from video

Both Nathan and Val originally operated out of their homes in Idaho Falls and Rexburg respectively. In 1989 or 1990, American Pump Co. bought the land where its building is now occupied.

In a video produced by the company (which you can watch in the player above), Nathan explains American Pump Co. grew about 20% a year during the first few years of operation.

“The reason for the growth is when a farmer would call us up, we pride ourselves on getting them up and going within two or three days. Sometimes even the same day we could get them going,” Nathan says.

After starting a machine shop, Nathan’s wife, Teresa, says they bought out another motor company and started selling T-L pivots.

A year after Nathan and Brizzee separated, Brizzee was killed in a welding accident and Nathan bought back Brizzee’s half of the business.

Though there have been improvements in pump efficiencies and changes in pump design over the years, Jacob says the overall process has stayed the same. The ability to change the speed of the pump is one of the most noticeable changes in the last 20 years.

American Pump Co. recently partnered with JK Simmons, an electrical contractor in St. Anthony, to provide 24/7 pump monitoring and preventative maintenance.

“The biggest challenge in the pump industry is, when a pump goes down, it’s an emergency. They need it fixed right now. So if we can prevent those emergencies and spread the work throughout the year instead of the week of the fourth of July or thereabouts,” we can better serve our customers, Jacob says.

After all these years, Teresa says customers have stuck with them because they’re dependable and as long as there’s a need for water, there will always be a need for a company like American Pump Co.

“We’re here to help our customers. We try to do the best we can to get out to them as quickly as possible. We care about our customers’ success, our farmers who really are the heart of Idaho,” Jacob says. “If they don’t have water, they don’t have a crop.”

american pump staff
Employees at American Pump during Wednesday’s open house. | Jared Taylor

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