Thomas Gardner was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin on June 8, 1926, the first born son of Alfred T Gardner, papermaker at Combined Locks Paper company. The family moved from Appleton to Port Arthur, Ontario in 1941 where Tom attended Port Arthur Collegiate for two years. Prior to completing high school in Duluth, he served one season on the Great Lakes cruise ship, SS Noronic, and a second season on ore carriers. He then served in the Canadian Navy in the North Atlantic in 1944-45. Gardner received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon in 1949.
Following graduation, Gardner worked for Abitibi Power and Paper in Ontario, Canada as a design engineer (1949-53); for Marathon Corporation (American Can) in Neenah, Wisconsin as senior staff engineer (1953-64); and then worked with Overly Inc., Neenah, Wisconsin, where he designed and built Gardner High Velocity Dryers and floater dryers (1964-74). He later licensed Valmet-Enerdry, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Knoxville, Tennessee, to build and install Gardner pocket ventilation systems (1971-90). As President and CEO of Gardner Systems Corporation, Neenah, Wisconsin, he developed and produced Gardner Blow-Through Steam Control Systems (1990-2011).
While working at Marathon, Gardner developed and patented his ideas of applying air jets at high velocity to produce high rates of heat and mass transfer for drying webs, and in 1958 successfully installed the first on-machine coater equipped with a Gardner Dryer.
Gardner dryers found use in a variety of applications worldwide such as drying coatings on paper machine coaters, on high speed off-machine coater installations, on Yankee tissue machines, and for drying of heat-set inks. He also invented and patented the high velocity “Floater” dryer that dried heat-set inks on both sides of the web at up to four times previous speeds.
He then developed and patented the Pocket Ventilating system that provided uniform drying across the web in paper machine dryers.
At Gardner Systems he went on to develop the new Gardner-Blow-Through Steam Control System for supplying steam and condensate drainage at high efficiency from paper machine dryers including the latest high speed dryers. Over 150 of these systems have been installed on paper machines around the world.
Gardner has 5 US Patents and 26 Technical Publications to his credit. He was a licensed Professional Engineer of the Province of Ontario and of the State of Wisconsin; a member of the Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI); the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association (CPPA); the Paper Industry Management Association (PIMA); the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation’s Technical Advisory Committee (GATF); the International Association of Scientific Papermakers (IASPM); and Pi Mu Epsilon – Mathematics Honor Society. He also received many Certificates of Appreciation for his numerous consulting services to the paper industry.
Gardner attributes much of his success to the support of his father, Alfred Gardner, as well as many other great paper industry people including Justin Jordan, manager of Abitibi’s mill at Port Arthur and president of CPPA, John Osborne, chief engineer at Bowaters Southern Paper Corp. and president of TAPPI, and Bill Overly, owner of Overly, Inc. (all now deceased).
Throughout his life Tom enjoyed many activities including scuba diving, sailing, alpine skiing, hunting and playing the piano.
Thomas Gardner retired in 2011 and lives in Neenah, Wisconsin. His wife for 60 years, Dorothy, passed away in 2006. They have four sons and two daughters.