How Pentair blew up from balloon-making to lead on sustainability


In 1966, five men intent on manufacturing high-altitude balloons founded a company in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. They called it Pentair: the Greek ‘penta’ for the five founders and “air” for the products they planned to produce.

Little did they know at the time that this originally balloon-focused firm would soon blow up and become something much bigger. Not long after its formation, Pentair began diversifying and venturing into a wide range of industries. And the founders soon realized they had a unique selling point in water treatment and sustainable applications. 

It was clear from early on that the company was going to be a success, with Pentair crossing the $1bn annual sales milestone in 1989, just over two decades after the story began. Today, after numerous acquisitions and striking many partnership deals, Pentair is a global player, with 351 active US patents and 592 international patents – and is still growing steadily. These days, its quarterly sales hover around $1bn. 

When it comes to clean fuels and sustainability, the theme of this month’s magazine, Pentair has strong growth plans, especially since the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, which it is currently exploring to unlock new opportunities. 

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