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As we countdown to our 100-year anniversary, we will share a series of stories to highlight the history of Cummins. In this series, we reflect on our rich history of turning challenges into opportunities.

In the early 1950s, Cummins discovered it had been paying a premium of 50 percent for poor-quality filters. The company was continuously on the pursuit of innovation and kept pushing its own technology. Always willing to ask the tough questions, Chairman Irwin Miller was overheard saying, “We tell everybody how to make filters. Why don’t we make them ourselves?​” Thus, Cummins’ journey as a filter manufacturer began.

In 1958, Cummins made the first diversification from diesel-engine manufacturing when it began making lube-oil filters in Seymour, Indiana (USA). On October 15, 1958, W.J. Hergenrader was tasked with starting up the old woolen-mills plant, making filter bags and turning a profit within three months of the Seymour Filter Company.

The manufacturing of cloth filter bags in Seymour, Indiana (USA), circa 1960. 

By Dec. 1958, Cummins filter manufacturing began with just two women and two sewing machines. The pressure was on from large orders. In the first month of operation, 20,000 filter bags were produced. By the next month, the plant was thriving – it had produced over 100,000. The business was profitable. 

The Cummins “Fleetguard” line was named in 1963, which included a variety of fuel, oil, and air filters. A few years later, the filter manufacturing was moved into a new 173,000 square foot plant in Cookeville, Tennessee ​(USA).

The death of the company’s founder, Clessie Cummins on Aug. 19, 1968, left behind an enduring impact for his innovative work and successes. On the 50th anniversary of Cummins, in 1969, J. Irwin Miller advised the company “to look forward towards a future whose outlines were only dimly apparent.”

Following Irwin Miller’s push to diversity beyond automotive diesel, Cummins invested in the state of the art Columbus Technical Center in 1967 in Cummins pursuit for technological innovation which continues today. 

The Cummins Technical Center in the mid-1960s in Columbus, Indiana (USA).

Nearly one hundred years after the introduction of the Cummins engine, our journey continues. Follow along, as we continue to explore Cummins’ history of challenging the impossible.