Drake History

Happy 50th Birthday, Drake!

Drake Chillers 50th anniversary logo with gold emblem and red/white/blue ribbon

We’re proud to announce that Drake Refrigeration, Inc. is turning 50 this year. To celebrate this momentous anniversary, we’re strolling down memory lane to help you get to know us better. You’ll discover everything you need to know about how we’ve reached this proud milestone – and enjoy a few interesting stories about our history along the way.

Let’s dive in by introducing the person who made Drake possible: Ronald (Ron) S. Drake.

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Meet our founder

Ron was born in 1924 in Coldwater, MI. He served in the United States Air Force before settling in South Florida. Ron was a strong believer in always putting the customer first and delivering equipment that met their needs without being overly complicated to operate. He built our company on the desire to produce robust, solid, well-engineered, and well-designed products that end-users could always rely and depend on – no matter the climate or location. As a leader, he was very hands-on, getting involved in all aspects of operations, including product application, engineering design, refrigeration theory, sales, manufacturing, and service. Ron helped manufacture several chillers still in service today, with two locally at the Chaddsford Winery.

How Drake was born

Drake’s humble beginnings started in 1972 at Ron’s home on the Treasure Coast in South Florida. During the hot summer months, the blazing Florida sun would heat area swimming pools warmer than bathwater – making swimming undesirable. Having grown up in Michigan, where he enjoyed splashing in the cold freshwater lakes near his hometown, Ron had an idea. So, he put his industrious nature to work tinkering around in his garage, working to create a chiller to cool hot swimming pools so that they’re as refreshing as a cool lake. This ingenuity marked the birth of Drake Refrigeration.

From 1972 to 1995, Ron was the face, voice, and power behind Drake Refrigeration. His forethought and hands-on innovation positioned our company as an industrial chiller refrigeration industry leader.  

While our company started with chilling pools in South Florida, Ron discovered a demand for chillers in other industries, helping propel our company forward. Today, Drake chillers are used every day 24/7 in a diverse portfolio of end-users throughout the US, Canada, and globally, including brewing, dairy, food processing, medical, cannabis, low-temperature, and industrial markets.

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A look back at our history

Over the last five decades, we’ve continued to develop products and technologies designed to enhance chiller efficiency and usability while boosting equipment uptime. The following milestones create a glimpse into the markers that have shaped who we are today (visit our new Drake History page for a visual timeline of these events):

1972 – Drake Refrigeration was founded as a pool chiller manufacturer by Ronald S. Drake in Port St. Lucie, Florida, ultimately expanding into other applications

1995 – Drake sells the company, passing the torch to the next generation

1997 – Headquarters relocates from Florida to its current location in Bensalem, PA

1999 –Semi-hermetic chiller line capable of 120hp announcement

2002 – Scroll compressor line replaces hermetic compressor line

2005 – Microprocessor controller introduction

2009 – ChillerGuard internet interface device development

2010 – Upgraded microprocessor controller announcement

2011 – Digital scroll compressors introduction

2015 – MCS controllers are in full swing

2016 – Screw Compressor line capable of 200hp introduction

2019 – Tandem scroll compressor line capable up to 100hp and staked condensers introduction

2020 – XL Chiller line (extra-low temp -40LFT) introduction

2022– Drake celebrates 50 years of manufacturing quality chillers

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What’s ahead

With Ron’s time-tested beliefs at our core, we’re continuing to build a legacy rooted in quality, service, and user-friendly designs. We want to thank our customers and dedicated team for helping us reach this historic milestone. We’re looking forward to continuing to grow and innovate over the next 50 years as we expand into new areas, including cannabis processing and environmentally friendly and technologically advanced process chilling solutions to meet your cooling needs.

Are you ready to partner with Drake? We’re an industry leader with a robust lineup of custom-ready chillers with a proven 99.4% uptime rate and exceptional after-the-sale support. Contact us to request a quote today.