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Nilfisk is a leading global provider of professional cleaning products and services. The company was founded on a vision of producing and selling products of the highest quality worldwide and for more than a hundred years, Nilfisk has adapted to the changing needs of markets and customers with innovative products and solutions. 


Nilfisk-Advance 100 Years of Cleaning
Last Update: Dec 10, 2010



Merritt Pond started the Advance Machine Shop. The business repaired equipment for the grain milling industry in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the site was a little wooden building with a dirt floor located at 2613 Southeast Fourth Street, not far from the mills.


The shop began repairing terrazzo grinding machines for the terrazzo floor industry. A year later it was understood that if the Company was to grow, it needed to manufacture a product to sell.

Advance's first product, a terrazzo grinder, was being demonstrated to contractors throughout the United States.

Advance first started making floor scrubbers and polishers on a private label basis.


Advance began making the “new” Lowboy™ floor machines (called Lowboy because it could reach under desks and furniture). By then Advance terrazzo machines were the standard of the industry, and the business was well enough established to survive the Great Depression of the 1930’s.


Advance put its efforts into helping the American cause in World War II by making parts for B-17 bombsights.

After the War (in 1948) Advance had twelve people on the payroll.

1949The Speedboy Deluxe™ floor machine was introduced. It featured a “flexible gear” drive, a major engineering breakthrough in floor machine design.


Several other new Advance products emerged, including the Gyro™, Pacemaker™ (both floor scrubbers), and Hydro-Vac™ (a wet/dry tank vacuum). Later the same year, Advance moved into a 10,000 square foot building on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis while still retaining the original location on Southeast Fourth Street.

The first Advance national sales meeting was held at the Washington Avenue location. There were eight salesmen and less than forty distributors nationwide.

The factory employed forty people and needed room to grow. The Company bought a 105,000 square foot building located in Spring Park, not far from Minneapolis. Factory and headquarter offices remained in Spring Park for almost 30 years.

The first Convertamatic™ automatic scrubber was introduced. It was called a Convertamatic because it could quickly be converted from an automatic floor scrubber to a dry floor polisher and vacuum. The recovery unit could also be lifted out and used separately. The Convertamatic introduced a patented Power-Flo™ self-propelling drive, the same drive system used to propel many Advance automatic scrubbers today.


Advance opened a manufacturing operation in Canada.

The CarpeTwin™ became the first two-motor carpet vacuum on the market.

The first CarpeTron™ dry foam shampooers went into production.

International operations began with Advance exporting machines throughout the world.


The Industrial Division was established. The manufacturing and sale of an industrial line, including large, heavy-duty rider sweepers and scrubbers, presented a new growth opportunity for the Company.

An international office was established in Luxembourg.

The Spring Park plant was expanded to 250,000 square feet, and a 200,000 square foot assembly operation and distribution center was added in Plymouth, another suburb of Minneapolis.


The international facility moved from Luxembourg to the United Kingdom with the establishment of a 35,000 square foot manufacturing plant and office in Cardiff, Wales. A warehouse/office was also set up in Monheim, Germany the same year.

Ground was broken and construction began on the main building at the Plymouth, Minnesota location. The new construction consolidated Advance corporate Headquarters, manufacturing and distribution, bringing all U.S. facilities together in a 500,000 square foot complex.

From its beginning, Advance Machine Company had been a family-owned organization under the management of Merritt Pond, his son Harold, and finally Harold’s son Robert. Then in January of 1989, Advance was sold to a group of financial investors.


Advance merged with a Danish company – Nilfisk A/S, a well known international company manufacturing a broad line of industrial and commercial vacuum cleaners marketed world wide.

Advance continues the proud tradition of innovation by creating products like the world’s first Whirlamatic™ 2700 Rider Burnisher.

Hydro-Retriever™ 2800 Rider Scrubber was introduced.


On November 1, a truck left our dock loaded with cleaning equipment headed for the great city of New York. The final destination was Capital Supply (a longtime Advance Dealer) who volunteered to help us deliver these products to six schools at “ground-zero” for much needed cleaning. These six schools are part of the New York Board of Education. Once the schools were thoroughly cleaned, the equipment was sold and 100% of the sale proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross on behalf of Advance and Capital Supply.

February 2004
Nilfisk-Advance, Inc. was pleased to announce the acquistion of ECOLOGICA a top manufacturer of quality industrial and outdoor sweepers, located in Parma, Italy.

Nilfisk acquires the ALTO group, which was formed six years earlier from merging 10 global brands within the cleaning industry, including Wap and Clarke.

Nilfisk establishes production sites in Hungary and China.

Acquisition of Viper, a leading Chinese manufacturer and supplier of professional cleaning equipment to the mid-market.

Nilfisk announces The Horizon Program and showcases the first prototype of a new and ground-breaking autonomous scrubber enabling unmanned cleaning.

NKT A/S is split into two individual companies, and Nilfisk is listed as an independent company on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange (Nasdaq Copenhagen).

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