He engineered a design the first automatic storage tank-type gas water heater, which went into production in 1889.
Ruud worked for George Westinghouse (1846–1914), but eventually bought the rights to produce the product he invented and formed his own company in 1897.
In 1913, Ruud merged and absorbed the Humphrey Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan which also manufactured water heaters.
The Humphrey Company had a large manufacturing operation in Kalamazoo, which Ruud continued to operate and expand. In 1954, Ruud moved all operations from Pittsburgh to Kalamazoo where they are headquartered.
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