|John G. Dramm inspects the "Corrette Crepe Paper Crimper", one of his many inventions. Before the use of colored aluminum foil as a wrap around potted plants, florists used crepe paper to enhance the appeal of plants they sold.||In the early 1940s, Manitowoc florist John G. Dramm, with a gift for invention, designed a product that was to become the cornerstone of the Dramm Corporation. He called it the 400 Water Breaker.|
Johnny, as everyone knew him, shared his invention with fellow growers and nurserymen. Basically a watering nozzle with 400 tiny holes that turns high velocity water into a soft-flowing shower that is gentle to plants, the invention proved worthy. Word-of-mouth spread the news and requests for the new nozzle began filtering in.
Today the Dramm Corporation manufactures and distributes a complete line of professional greenhouse tools and equipment throughout the world. It is the most respected name within the industry.
The company's development, from a "basement operation" to a 55,000 sq. ft. facility employing over 50 people, was not without its tragedies. In 1951 Johnny died. He was 47. His wife, Perdita, with two sons ages 12 and 18 and no Social Security benefits, struggled to keep the fledgling business going. Subcontracting the parts and assembly, Perdita-- or Dt, as she was known, packed the orders, attended to all of the paperwork, using her lunch hours while she worked as a school librarian to drive to the post office and mail out the shipments. Taking no salary from The Dramm Company, Perdita used the modest profits to put her two sons through college.
By the late 1950s, John Peter, Johnny and Perdita's older son, was working out of his own basement, laying the groundwork for developing an extension handle for the 400 Water Breaker. By the early 1960s, John was renting a small factory and doing the actual manufacturing of the Water Breaker and Handi Reach Handle, taking on some of the management functions of The Dramm Company. Although a marketing major (UW-Madison,) he inherited his father's love for invention. Over the years, John evolved into a self-taught engineer, designing and building equipment and machines to manufacture the expanding menu of Dramm products.
While the original products were designed for the professionals working in greenhouses and nurseries, requests from the public were building. The avid home gardener wanted to use the same watering tools the "pros" were using. And the "pros" were all using Dramm. Johnny's utilitarian design now required a more attractive, refined look for the burgeoning retail market.
In 1967, younger brother Kurt William, with a degree in Horticulture (UW-Madison) and experience in sales with Vaughn's Seed Company, joined, then later purchased The Dramm Company from his mother, Perdita. The "born salesman" in the family, Kurt's agenda was to develop new products and increase sales. There were then actually two separate companies-- The Dramm Company and the John P. Dramm Manufacturing Company. But, being a family, they operated as one entity.
When, in 1978 at age 45, John P. Dramm, like his father before him, died at too-early an age, the two companies became one under the name Dramm Corporation.
In an effort to increase sales, Kurt purchased German-made Pulsfog® machines, low-volume chemical applicators that greatly reduce the risk of exposure. He then added the Japanese AutofogTM, advantageous because it requires no operator. With a history of being a leader in horticultural technology, the Dramm Corporation today manufactures and distributes a variety of sprayers, foggers, environmental controllers and horticultural equipment.
A new facet in development at the Dramm Corp. is its Drammatic® Liquid Fish Fertilizer. Environmentally appealing because it is 100% organic, the low-impact fertilizer utilizes chopped-up fish, something considered waste and formerly dumped into landfills is now made into a useful and highly effective product. Native Americans apparently understood this secret when they taught the Mayflower Pilgrims to "plant" a fish in each hill of corn! A clean, state-of-the-art factory was newly completed in Algoma, Wisconsin in 1999.
While keeping a position at the forefront of technology is essential, the 400 Water Breaker, in combination with a variety of extension handles, still remains the premiere Dramm product. Its success attracts many imitators. Though copied worldwide, none of the competition have equaled the quality, craftsmanship and durability of the original American-made product.
"Quality," Kurt Dramm says, "has been the hallmark of the Dramm Corporation throughout its over-50-year history."
Recently "the bender," one of the custom machines designed by John in the early years, was retired, replaced by an English-made counterpart. But the new machine, though expensive, couldn't do the job to the company's standards, and the original "bender" was re-engineered and brought back into service.
Perdita, after retiring from her school librarian job in 1972, devoted herself full time to the business. She continued to work at the Dramm Corporation until her death in 1996 at age 89.
Family involvement, so integral to the growth and success of the company, is still a vital ingredient today. Throughout the history of the business both John and Kurt's children have had roles in the Dramm Corporation. Currently Hans Dramm is the Financial officer and son-in-law, Kurt Becker, is Director of Commercial Products and Marketing.
There's excitement in the dynamics of seeing a company move from a basement operation to a multi-million dollar global corporation. This past decade has witnessed explosive growth. Combined with the firm footings of a strong family heritage, Kurt Dramm says his company is prepared and confident to prosper in the 21st Century.