As a 17-year-old machinist in 1857, Joseph E. Watts emigrated to Lawrence, Massachusetts from Cheshire, England seeking his fortune. 17 Years later, he would open an independent machine shop supplying machinery parts and fittings to the local textile mills, Watts Regulator Company. In addition to running his own business, Joseph Watts achieved widespread fame as the patentee and maker of steam and water pressure regulators.

Watts manufactured pressure-reducing valves to regulate steam and relief devices designed to ensure safe operation of water heaters and boilers.

A Family Business

In 1918, Watts Regulator was purchased by Burchard Everett Horne (B.E. Horne) and thus began a new era for Watts Regulator: A family-owned and operated business.

Horne would pave the way for Watts Regulator to develop the patented and revolutionary combination temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve.

Horne’s son George would lead marketing and sales, going from city to city driving new sales and publicizing Watts products to the masses. George Horne is credited for one of Watts’ earliest marketing campaigns, "Explosion Danger Lurks!," which demonstrated the dangers of unprotected water heaters in an effort to get T&P valves specified in safety codes.

watts history

Moving Forward

Upon B.E. Horne's untimely passing, day-to-day control fell into the hands of George, who drove the opening of our Franklin, NH manufacturing plant in 1959. Around this time George’s son, Tim Horne, entered the family business.

Watts Regulator expanded its domestic presence and entered the global market with manufacturing plants in Canada and the United Kingdom.

In the 1970's, George led Watts Regulator into the backflow prevention market and the waterworks industry. Backflow preventers have since become one of our most successful product lines.

Ningbo Factory with solar panels


In 1978 Tim Horne became President and CEO. Horne expanded Watts into new markets with the development of entirely new product lines, sales rose to $100 million in 1984. Wanting to build on recent success, Horne explored going public to raise investment capital and making major acquisitions.

In 1985 Watts Industries, Inc. was incorporated and went public.

In 2002, Patrick S. O’Keefe was appointed Watts new CEO. He oversaw the transition of a successful family-owned business to a publicly-traded company with an international presence.

Watts Resource Image of nigbo_trainingcenter1

Watts Water in New Zealand

Watts international presence includes the introduction of their backflow products into the New Zealand market over 35 years ago.  Distribution moved to the current agents, Hydroflow, in 2003.  With support from Watts Water, both in China and the US, Hydroflow have been instrumental in the development and implementation of NZ regulations to protect local water supplies.

In 2018, Watts completed the acquisition of Apex Valves – a New Zealand based company specialising in the design and manufacture of plumbing control valves as well as tank and trough valves for the agricultural industry and for rainwater harvesting.