Inventors Hall of Fame
Frank A. Donaldson
(1888 - 1945) Donaldson was a pioneer in the design, manufacture and marketing of air cleaner equipment for internal combustion engines. An early mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Minnesota, he worked as a field engineer for a farm tractor company and in 1915 invented the first effective air cleaner to protect engines from the ravages of dust and dirt. He eventually developed many improved air cleaning devices, 22 of which are covered by United States patents. In 1915, he founded the Donaldson Company., Inc., the first manufacturer of air cleaners in the world - "The House that Dust Built." It was to become the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy-duty air cleaners and mufflers for farm tractors and combines, construction machinery, heavy-duty trucks, military vehicles, and power plants. In the 1920's, crop fires caused by engine sparks fueled diversification into exhaust products. Success and innovation in agricultural equipment led directly to opportunities in the construction and mining markets and later to the over-the-road truck market. The Donaldson Company grew steadily, adding new products and gaining new customers. By 1976, Donaldson employed more than 2,700 people in six operating divisions and in a corporate headquarters located in Minneapolis, with a diversified product line of more than 4,000 products. By the early 21st Century, through growth and multiple acquisitions, the company had expanded to more than 10,000 employees. The Donaldson Company is now a worldwide organization helping to provide for mankind’s needs for food, transportation, construction, and energy in a cleaner, quieter environment.