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Simplex - An American Company since 1899

When the job calls for heavy-duty lifting or positioning, you need simple dependable tools. We manufacture industrial-grade cylinders, pumps, jacks and more for those who just need to get the job done.


In the spring of 1899, Walter B. Templeton, accompanied by his partners, founded Templeton, Kenly & Company in a basement office alongside the Chicago River.

Templeton, a savvy businessman and a skilled engineer, had developed a unique ratchet-lever mechanical jack that offered superior safety in railroad track maintenance applications. He and his partners saw a vast commercial potential for the product and were willing to gamble on it being a success.

That first year, Templeton burned the midnight oil honing his original design, improving efficiency and safety. He knew that the time was right for a new "track jack." While the ratchet-lever mechanical jack is almost as old as railroading itself, Templeton’s jack was the first to be truly reliable and safe. As testimony to this superior design, the new Simplex® jack — the trade name adopted for this product— quickly became the first choice among the track maintenance men who helped make the railroad a universal transportation system. The jack’s contribution to safer railroading would be recognized in 1913 by the American Museum of Safety, which awarded the Simplex jack its coveted Gold Medal — the only jack to ever receive this honor.

Buoyed by high demand, in 1913 Simplex moved its operations from its original facility — where receipts and shipments were still being handled through a ground floor window — to a larger site located on Chicago’s west side, where it would remain for the next forty years. At the same time, Templeton and his partners were aggressively expanding sales capacity by enlisting a nationwide network of distributors to carry the Simplex line, while also looking beyond railroading to the heavy-construction, maintenance and production markets for future growth.

When World War I broke out, Simplex answered Uncle Sam’s call. Management saw it as part and parcel of Simplex’s corporate citizenship to design products that assisted the military effort. In 1915, for example, a special ratchet lowering jack was developed that pivoted on its base to enable the allied armies to keep equipment moving through rain-soaked battlefields. Then, in World War II, the company produced a greatly- improved track connecting and adjusting tool for light and heavy tanks. These efforts, along with the ongoing manufacture of other quality equipment, earned Simplex the prestigious "Army-Navy E Award".

Prior to his retirement in 1939, Walter B. Templeton made a final, lasting contribution to the company he founded. In 1937 he assisted in the development of the Simplex Journal Jack, known now in trade circles as the "Super Jack". This gear actuated jack reduced the friction associated with conventional jacks by 88%. It was an immediate commercial success.

A New Generation

Following Walter Templeton’s retirement, his son, John B. Templeton, took over management of the family-owned company as it entered a new period of growth and prosperity.

One of the first steps John Templeton made was to broaden the company’s offerings by entering the burgeoning hydraulics field. Enlisting the help of the Wm. S. Pine Company of Los Angeles — which Simplex was to purchase twenty years later — the first hydraulic Simplex product was introduced: the self-contained “Jenny” Jack.

The Jenny’s successful launch was followed shortly after by a remote- controlled hydraulic ram and puller combination, a common tool today, but a true innovation in safety at the time. Dubbed the Simplex Re-Mo-Trol™, this device permitted loads to be lifted, lowered, pushed or pulled with the operator a safe distance from the work.

Remarkably, only five years after John Templeton had made the decision to venture into hydraulics, Simplex was to become the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial hydraulic and mechanical jacks, both from the standpoint of volume and the number of different models offered to customers.

Higher levels of production brought with it the need for more modern and larger manufacturing facilities. For that reason, Simplex moved in 1953 into a modern 127,000 square-foot plant located just outside Chicago in Broadview, Illinois.

Looking to balance growth internally, as well as externally, the company made its first outside acquisition in 1965, purchasing Uni-Lift® mechanical actuators, a line of products it carries to this day. Uni-Lift miniature, machine screw, self-contained, and ball screw actuators are recognized as superior OEM solutions, and are routinely incorporated in tools used in production, positioning, material testing, and material handling.

A year after buying Uni-Lift, a second acquisition was made. This time it was Wm. S. Pine Company, the manufacturer of specialized high pressure, large capacity rams and pumps, which had assisted Simplex engineers in entering the hydraulics market back in the late forties. The acquisition was a natural extension of the two companies’ long-standing partnership. A decade later the Pine operation moved permanently from Los Angeles to the Broadview location.

Over the following years, Simplex would add several members to its extended family, including multiple-spindle drilling heads maker, Commander Manufacturing, in 1968, and high-quality drilling machines manufacturer, I. O. Johansson Company, in 1974. Both these companies were later sold. Miller Fluid Power, a manufacturer of high-quality hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders, was purchased in 1981 and sold seven years later.

Simplex, Today & Tomorrow

Today, as in the past, developing products that set new benchmarks in quality are “business as usual” at Simplex. For example, the Simplex Pow’r-Claw™ track jack, introduced in 1992, is equally as revolutionary as the original track jack Walter B. Templeton invented more than 100 years ago. Other innovations include new lines of push/pull jacks, air bags, hand pumps, cylinders and maintenance tools designed to meet the needs of a cross section of industries, from testing and manufacturing… to rescue operations and heavy construction.

In 1992, Simplex also instituted an ambitious expansion of its sales channels to better serve its widening customer base. A direct sales force made up of highly-experienced industry professionals was put into place to support Simplex’s more than 2,000 distributors. Once a small, local company, Simplex now has a presence in virtually every country around the world.

Quality products can only result from quality people. At Simplex, attracting the right people, and giving them the tools and motivation to be their best remains the key to continued growth. Every Simplex employee is part of a dynamic team that is dedicated to expanding the company’s competitive position. The company-wide philosophy of “team building” management enables the organization to be more open to employee participation, encouraging new ideas and finding better ways to serve customers.

Moreover, Simplex has incorporated computer-aided drafting, advanced CMM machinery, and task-orientated manufacturing teams. These changes are allowing inventories to ship faster than ever, while keeping productivity levels and quality standards at an all-time high.

Enerpac Tool Group

Simplex is wholly owned by Enerpac Tool Group, a premier industrial tools and services company serving a broad and diverse set of customers in more than 25 countries. The Company’s businesses are global leaders in high pressure hydraulic tools, controlled force products and solutions for precise positioning of heavy loads that help customers safely and reliably tackle some of the most challenging jobs around the world. The Company was founded in 1910 and is headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.


1899. Templeton, Kenly & Company was founded. The first reliable & safe Track Jack was entered into the marketplace.

1913. The company moved into a larger facility to expand the growing operations. The Track Jack was awarded the Gold Metal into the American Museum of Safety.

1915. World War 1 efforts the company designed a pivoting base to assist military efforts moving through rain-soaked battlefields.

1937. Walter Templeton assisted in the design of the Super Jack (Journal Jack). The gear actuator jack reduces friction associated with conventional jacks by 88%.

1939. Walter Templeton retires and his son John B.Templeton took over the management and entered a new period of growth and prosperity. 

1945. World War 2, the company design a connecting & adjusting tool for light and heavy tasks which received the prestigious Army-Navy E Award. 

1947. Simplex first hydraulics product offered was the “Jenny” Jack a self-contained center hole jack.

1953. Company moved into a modern and larger manufacturing facility in Broadview, Illinois

1965. Uni-Lift Acquisition. A line that is recognized as superior OEM solutions and routinely incorporated in tools used in production, positioning, material testing and material handling.

1966. WM. S Pine Company was acquired and extended the hydraulic line of specialized high pressure cylinders and pumps.

1968. Commander Manufacturing, maker of multi-spindle drilling heads and I.O. Johnson Company, a high quality drilling machine manufacture were acquired and later sold off in 1974.

1981. Miller fluid Company, a high quality hydraulic and pneumatic cylinder was acquired and later sold off in 1988.

1989. Suc-O-matic Valve was introduced which offered a solution to assist in the retract of single acting load return tools and cylinders.

1993. Hydraulic Track Jack Pow’R Claw was introduced into the marketplace offer a lightweight yet powerful self-contained lifting jack solution to the Rail Road Industry. Offering one person operation to lift 10 tons safety and controlled lowering as well.

1996. Simplex introduced the Hard-Kor Center Hole Cylinder line with its unique one piece unified body design which is significantly stronger than conventional three piece design.

1998. Pow’R-Riser II was restructured for today’s marketplace, offering increased tonnages and accessories to meet the demands for the railcar and off road truck industries. These jacks offer easy maneuverability, lower closed heights, adjustable handle position and are available in air or electric models.

1999. Pow-R-Jac product line specifies in the OEM actuator business with customized machine screw and ball screw actuators. These jacks are known for their durable and simple design offered years of trouble free use.

1999. Templeton Kenly and Company celebrates 100 years in business.

2007. Sept. 13, 2007--Enerpac Tool Group Corporation (NYSE:EPAC) announced today that it has acquired Templeton, Kenly & Co, Inc.