About Sutton-Garten Co. William Raymond “Ray” Garten began his career in the welding department at the Prestolite Company in Speedway, Indiana. Prestolite manufactured acetylene lamps and lighting systems for cars and trucks, and was owned by Indianapolis industrial pioneers Carl Fisher and Jim Allison. These gentlemen stared the Indianapolis 500, Allison Engine and Allison Gas Turbine. Garten was responsible for training welders and lead burners with Prestolite, and when the company was sold to Union Carbide and Carbon’s Linde Division, he was transferred to Chicago, Illinois. There he met Charles R. Sutton.
Union Carbide decided to market product through distributors and Sutton and Garten returned to Indianapolis to begin operations as the first independently owned Prestolite distributor in the state of Indiana. The company specialized in the sale of small acetylene cylinders and Prestolite lighting equipment. Sutton-Garten Co. also maintained a welding shop and did service and repair work. A large part of the early shop business was the installation of acetylene lamps and wind deflectors on early open cab trucks.
Ray Garten bought control of the company from Sutton. His wife Rena became Secretary/Treasurer of the company and was an important part of the operation for over 60 years. Business improved as welding gained a foothold in industry. Electric welders began to appear in the mid-1920’s and further expanded the company’s product line. Sutton-Garten became the first General Electric distributor in the country in 1926.
The company expanded its operations to a new building at 401 W. Vermont Street, Indianapolis. The shop area was enlarged and the repair business grew rapidly. It was also a way of introducing the new concept of welding repair to skeptical customers. An early offer to repair the touring Liberty Bell was unfortunately rejected, but many others saw the benefits of welding and ended up purchasing welders for their own operations.
Sutton-Garten became a distributor for KG Equipment, an early manyfacturer of gas apparatus that had previously had no representation west of Pennsylvania. Sutton-Garten obtained exclusive rights to the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana. KG was later purchased by Air Products and Chemicals, and then by Smith Equipment, an ITW Company.
During the 1930’s, the supply business suffered due to the Depression, but the repair business continued to be strong. In fact, no one was laid off all through the Depression. By 1936, equipment sales picked up and the supply business grew rapidly. During World War II, the company helped train welders for jobs in the defense industry. By the late 1940’s the shop buiness was only a minor part of the operation, and it was discontinued in 1953.
General Electric was one of the dominant forces in the welding industry, but in 1957 GE announced that it was discontinuing the manufacture of machines and filler metals. After discussion with the leading manufacturers, Sutton-Garten became a distributor for Miller Electric and Murex Electrodes. Murex had purchased the GE formulas for coated electrodes. Murex is now part of Lincoln Electric.
In the mid 1960’s, William F. “Bill” Garten, son of Ray and Rena Garten, became president of the company. After his death in 1974, his son Pat joined the company and has managed the company since that time.
Sutton-Garten moved to a new headquarters and warehouse building, approximately twice the size of their former facility. The new building included a 2,000-sq. ft. showroom, expanded dock facilities, demonstration area and expanded offices. The company was recognized by the National Welding Supply Association as the oldest distributor in the United States under continuing management.
The company installed an expanded cylinder filling operation, and can now fill on site oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, helium, nitrogen, and mixtures. In 1998, the repair and rental department was expanded to 5,000 sq. ft. Sutton-Garten is now a warranty repair facility for Miller Electric, Hypertherm Plasma, Lincoln Electric, and ESAB Welding. We also maintain a gas apparatus repair department, and can service almost any brand of welding or cutting equipment.
In 2003, Sutton-Garten completed an 8,000 sq. ft. addition to be used for additional warehouse space, rental and used equipment storage, and customer training. Ben and Matt Garten joined the company to become the fourth generation to work at the company. In 2006 we began delivery of bulk liquid carbon dioxide to beverage and industrial customers and in 2008 we began production of dry ice pellets for use in shipping and dry ice blasting applications. We also expanded our welding training area and now offer welding classes and certifications. In 2007 we were awarded the American Welding Society’s Image of Welding Award.
Growth continued in all areas of the business. Additional carbon dioxide storage and dry ice production equipment was added. A liquid nitrogen trailer was added to service nitrogen accounts, and dry ice blasting machines were added to the rental fleet. Our welding classes received a “Best of Indianapolis” Award.
Business grew in all areas of the company — welding equiment and supplies, gases, and filler metals. Rental welding equipment and dry ice blasting equipment expanded, and dry ice production capacity grew with the addition of another pelletizer and a dry ice block press and the installation of a state of the art “Chillzilla” 50 ton bulk carbon dioxide tank. A new automated dry ice slab machine was also added.
In January 2021 we expanded with a new branch location at 5001 Industrial Road in Fort Wayne Indiana. The location features a full service showroom, and also manufactures dry ice pellets and block. We also service liquid CO2 customers in northeast Indiana from the branch.
In October 2021, we opened a new 15,000 sq ft dry ice production facility at 2917 Roosevelt Avenue in Indianapolis. Pelletizers, 3 reformer lines, and a block press for producing pellets, slab and block are now in operation. Storage equipment includes 5 bulk tanks on site for storage of liquid CO2. In 2023 we installed reclaiming equipment to capture carbon dioxide vapor to increase our production efficiency.
In our company’s 105th year, we represent the finest suppliers in the industry. Sutton-Garten has a great team of dedicated employees who work hard and know that we are here to meet the needs of our customers
Sutton Garten is a strong, independent welding distributor. Our staff averages over 15 years of employment. We operate on a basic philosophy- we are here to fulfill the needs of our customers. We must provide them with the best products, and back them up with the technical knowledge and service capabilities to solve their problems.