The History and Formation of Manitowoc Cranes

The Manitowoc Dry Dock Company was launched on June 21, 1902. The pioneers of the company included Charles West, Elias Gunnel and Lyford Geer who hired 90 men to repair and construct ships. These men would not probably recognize the firm today as it has expanded beyond what they imagined, but would closely identify with the company’s values over a century later. The values that these three founders formed the group on are instilled to the core of the organization’ staff and operational framework. With the foresight and enterprising spirit that became Manitowoc’s hallmarks, the firm would construct a building on steel fabrication, and just two years later, they started the construction of ships. The company changed its brand name to Manitowoc Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in 1910. 

The shipbuilding industry would experience tumultuous times at the beginning of the 20th century. Manitowoc Company had however had to take any opportunities for growth that presented themselves at a time when the United States economy was unstable. Charles West, the company’s Chief executive Officer in 1925 would start the construction of ships for the Moore Speed Crane Company on a subcontract basis. This move by West began the company’s legacy to become a world-class cranes manufacturer. Manitowoc was the only shipbuilding company that survived the great depression in the 1930s in the Great Lakes region. One of the significant contributors to the success of the firm despite the nation’s failing economy was the fact that Manitowoc produced a diversified line of services and products. 

Business would return to normal after the depression shortly after the 1930s. The company would start to recruit workers from distant states like Michigan and Minnesota. The first plans were hatched to start a third line of business that would complement the shipbuilding operations in the summer of 1944. Equipment works were launched in the year 1945 which created products such as dry-cleaning equipment and refrigerated trucks. 

The equipment works department for Manitowoc parts would later develop into the Manitowoc Foodservice department which would then become a distinct company on its own. Seven years later, in 1952, Manitowoc Company would celebrate its golden jubilee after five decades in operation and officially become the Manitowoc Company. In the 1960s, Manitowoc Company would start its expansion globally when emerging markets for American construction equipment like Western Europe began to flourish. 

Manitowoc announced its acquisition offer to Potain, a tower cranes manufacturer, worth over $300 million in the spring of 2000. When Potain joined the Manitowoc family, the company would add manufacturing plants in Italy, France, China, Portugal, and Germany. Manitowoc would proceed with the acquisition of Grove cranes in 2002. Grove Cranes specialized in the manufacture of telescopic cranes that are mobile. The manufacturing facilities owned by Grove in Wilhelmshaven in Germany and shady Grove in Pennsylvania have greatly helped Manitowoc expand its manufacturing capacity.

Manitowoc has evolved into a successful cranes business since it began as Manitowoc Dry Dock Company. It has focused all its energies to become a global leader in the industry of cranes manufacture. The company has been able to overcome numerous challenges including the Great Depression and came out of them stronger by delivering value to both its customers and shareholders.

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