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Universal Mfg Co

Our History


During World War II, when shipments of Allied defense materials monopolized the U.S. rail system, Ford Motor Company offered selected Ford Dealerships the opportunity to become authorized engine remanufacturers in the interest of reducing the use of rail transportation to ship remanufactured engines. This not only solved Ford’s shipping problems that were plaguing Ford’s Detroit remanufacturing operations, it also provided an incentive for many dealers to diversify and expand their business. One of those forward thinking entrepreneurs was Fred Kent, Sr., an Algona, Iowa car dealer.


From these humble beginning Universal Mfg. Co., has grown and matured. A public offering of its stock was completed in 1964. At one time the operation included the remanufacturing of 19 different products all for Ford Motor Company. As Ford began the reduction in outside remanufacture of its product, UMC expanded its distribution operation and established a separate operation to perform these services as an authorized Ford Distributor.


In 2002 UMC utilized its remanufacturing expertise to design and begin production of our current line of remanufactured automotive products that include brake calipers, transfer cases, transfer case shift motors and electric fuel pumps. This new line of products, sold throughout North America under the ReTech® and other private brands, were not tied to Ford and permitted Universal to develop an entirely new network of customers and distributors to ensure that the company’s fortunes were not solely aligned with the success of Ford. In 2007 the formal relationship with Ford was ended with the sale of the Ford Authorized distribution business.


Continuing to believe in the value of manufacturing, Universal carefully examined opportunities to expand its manufacturing base, electing to look beyond the automotive aftermarket. In 2010 the acquisition of Man Lift Mfg. Co. was completed. Man Lift is a premier manufacture of mobile hydraulic equipment serving the explosion proof market as well as other areas that require highly engineered solutions with a focus on safety and efficiency.


Foresight and adaptability was important in the beginning of UMC and it continues to be a differentiator for the Company well past its sixtieth year. UMC has been, is and will continue to be a company that manufactures and remanufactures a variety of products. Identifying and serving markets that are not commoditized and require specialized solutions is our history and continues to be our guiding principle.