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HISTORY OF INNOVATION
120 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE
Lincoln Electric’s tradition of innovative solutions, technological leadership and commitment to customers, employees, and shareholders, stems from the vision of its founder, John C. Lincoln and his brother, James F. Lincoln.
John C. Lincoln founded The Lincoln Electric Company with a capital investment of $200.00. The product: electric motors of his own design.
1900 – 1919
John C.’s younger brother, James F. Lincoln, joined the Company as a salesman in 1907. Meanwhile, the product line had been expanded to include battery chargers for electric automobiles. A welding set is first made by the Lincoln brothers in 1909. In 1911, Lincoln Electric introduced the first variable voltage, single operator, portable welding machine in the world.
In 1914, wishing to concentrate on scientific investigation, John C. turned the reins of the Company over to James F. Lincoln. James F. introduced piecework pay and established the Employee Advisory Board, which includes elected representatives from every department and has met every two weeks ever since. By 1915, in a progressive effort for its time, Lincoln Electric employees were covered by group life insurance.
In 1916, The Lincoln Electric Company of Canada was incorporated to distribute the U.S. made products. The next year, The Lincoln Electric Welding School was founded. The school has trained more than 100,000 people since its inception in 1917.
1920 – 1939
Lincoln Electric’s production of welders surpassed that of motors for the first time in 1922, making welding the company’s primary business. In 1927, Lincoln Electric introduced the Fleetweld® 5 coated electrode which produced welds with 20 – 50% higher tensile strength and 100% greater ductility than those made with bare electrodes.
Lincoln Electric employees earned paid vacations, among the first in the nation, in 1923. The first Lincoln Electric employee stock ownership plan, one of the first in the country, was initiated in 1925. An employee suggestion program was implemented in 1929. Lincoln Electric employees received their first annual Incentive Bonus in 1934. While the average Lincoln Electric worker’s pay more than doubled during the decade of the Great Depression, electrodes which had sold for $0.16/lb in 1929 were selling for less than $0.06/lb by 1942.
After working 12 years to perfect a ductile weld, John Lincoln created a patented flux which, for the first time, made a weld as flexible as steel.
The Procedure Handbook of Arc Welding Design, first published in 1933, is today in its 13th edition. More than two million copies of this textbook have been sold. In 1936, The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation was founded as a non-profit educational organization to advance arc welding as a leading materials joining process. That same year, a young salesman named William I. Miskoe was sent halfway around the world to establish The Lincoln Electric Company Pty. Ltd. in Australia.
1940 – 1949
World War II brought a dramatic expansion of Lincoln Electric’s business, with welded ship hulls creating an enormous new market for arc welding products. After many Lincoln Electric workers were drafted, the company hired large numbers of women and minority factory workers for the first time. Motor production was suspended to focus resources on supporting the wartime welding product demand.
1950 – 1969
In 1951, Lincoln Electric constructed a modern plant with unique material handling capabilities in Euclid, Ohio. Lincoln Electric France SA was established in 1953 with the construction of a plant in Rouen, a short trip from Paris. Major innovations of the 1950’s included the Jetweld® fast-fill low hydrogen stick electrodes and Innershield® self-shielded flux-cored wire electrodes.
James F. Lincoln continued to enhance Incentive Management, adding a cost of living multiplier, formal merit rating, and guaranteed continuous employment. In 1959, John C. Lincoln passed away.
In the 1960’s, motors returned to the company’s product line with an award winning new model featuring an extruded aluminum frame and automatically wound stator coils. James F. Lincoln passed away in 1965.
1970 – 1989
Lincoln Electric entered a new era of professional management with the promotions of George E. Willis to president and William Irrgang to chairman in 1972. The Mentor, Ohio, electrode plant was started up in 1977 to produce the company’s domestic wire consumables products.
The early 1980’s were a time of hardship, with Lincoln Electric’s sales dropping 40 percent in response to the combined effects of inflation, sharply higher energy costs, and a national recession. Although guaranteed continuous employment received a severe test, not one Lincoln Electric employee was laid off for lack of work.
In 1986, George E. Willis was named chairman and Donald F. Hastings became president. Mr. Willis pursued an energetic course of foreign expansion; eventually, Lincoln Electric obtained a controlling interest in manufacturing operations located in 16 countries.
1990 – 1995
In, 1992, Mr. Hastings became chairman and Frederick W. Mackenbach was promoted to president. In 1991, an expanded world headquarters facility opened with expanded and renovated Weld Technology and training center operations. Foreign operations were consolidated and reorganized.
In 1993, during the global reorganization, Don Hastings and Fred Mackenbach urged the Company’s U.S. employees to pursue record levels of production and sales. In true Lincoln Electric spirit, they responded by voluntarily postponing 614 weeks of vacation in order to meet customer demand for product. Sales records were set every quarter since mid 1993.
Lincoln Electric added more than 600 new employees during 1994. On June 8, 1995, the Company’s Centennial year, a new, state-of-the-art motor facility opened in celebration of John C. Lincoln Appreciation Day. The Lincoln Electric Company achieved its one billion dollar sales goal during its centennial year.
The board of directors appoints Anthony A. Massaro as President, succeeding the retiring Frederick W. Mackenbach. On November 1, Mr. Massaro is named President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Hastings remains as Chairman until May, 1997.
A multi-million dollar expansion and update of domestic research and development facilities is approved by the board. Expansion activities include an acquisition of Electronic Welding Systems (EWS) in Italy, a planned joint venture in China and a manufacturing joint venture in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Lincoln Electric Board of Directors announces the appointment of Anthony A. Massaro as chairman of the company, making him the sixth chairman to lead this 102-year-old world leader in the arc welding industry. At the American Welding Society tradeshow in April, the company introduces many products resulting from an exciting new product development process.
Lincoln Electric is committed to building consistent growth in markets around the world and providing substantial value to all of its stakeholders.
1998 was a year of expansion, acquisition and product development for Lincoln Electric. In the global arena, Lincoln Electric opened an electrode plant in Shanghai, China and acquired Uhrhan & Schwill, of Essen, Germany, a market-leading designer and installer of pipe welding systems for pipe mills. In addition, Lincoln Electric secured its own aluminum wire capability and brand through acquisition of Canadian company, Indalco, a global leader in manufacture of aluminum wire and rod. In other global happenings, Lincoln Electric secured a 50% stake in AS Kaynak, a leading Turkish producer of welding consumables and opened a distribution center in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Products abounded with more than 23 new products and services introduced to the market in 1998, including ArcLink™ the arc welding industry’s first communications protocol, at the annual American Welding Society Exposition.
In 1998, Lincoln Electric also distributed its 65th consecutive bonus to employees and achieved the fifth consecutive year of record financial performance. In investor news, shareholders approved the formation of a holding company, Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc. With this transition came a conversion from dual class stock (voting and non-voting) to a single-class, all voting stock. This action doubled the number of outstanding shares.
In January of 1999, Lincoln Electric established a majority-held, joint venture electrode plant in the Philippines with distributor partners. During the American Welding Society’s International Welding and Fabricating Exposition in St. Louis, Lincoln unveiled some never-before-seen products including the Multi-Weld™ system, designed for welding large structures, and the Power MIG™: The Professional Choice, 255 combination wire feeder/welder. Lincoln Electric also debuted a host of new electrodes including SuperArc® and SuperGlide® premium MIG wires, SuperGlaze® aluminum welding wire and Excalibur™ 7018 low hydrogen electrodes.
Also in 1999, the company completed the sale of its motor business to the Marathon Division of Regal-Beloit, preserving Guaranteed Employment Policy through the process.
Lincoln Electric acquires C.I.F.E. Spa, an Italian manufacturer of welding consumables and Europe’s premier producer of MIG wire. Acquisition solidifies the Company’s position as a leader in the European welding consumables business. Production begins in Lincoln’s new manufacturing facility in Brazil.
The Company expands its operations in South America with the acquisition of Messer Soldaduras de Venezuela, the country’s leading manufacturer of consumable welding products. The David C. Lincoln Technology Center is completed, ensuring Lincoln Electric’s leadership position in product development.
The acquisition of Bester S.A., a welding equipment manufacturer based in Poland, drives the Company’s growth in Eastern Europe. The Company forms Lincoln Electric Welding, Cutting, Tools and Accessories, Inc., dedicated to growing the retail channel.
Lincoln Electric complements its successful line of retail products with the acquisition of the Century and Marquette welding and battery charger brands, which have leading positions in the automotive aftermarket and retail channels.
Acquisitions of controlling interests in three welding businesses in China are completed, giving Lincoln Electric a leading share of that growing market. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans visits Lincoln Electric’s Cleveland headquarters, citing the Company as a prime example of America’s manufacturing strength. John M. Stropki is named Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, becoming only the seventh Chairman in the Company’s history.
Lincoln Electric acquires J.W. Harris Co., a global leader in brazing and soldering alloys, to broaden the Company’s solutions capabilities and complement its core product lines. Lincoln leads the welding industry in achieving ISO 14001 certification, the environmental standard.
The acquisition of Metrode Products Limited, a UK-based manufacturer of nickel-based cored wire and stick electrode consumables, expands the Company’s offering of specialty consumables for the process and power generation industries.
Lincoln Electric earns the President’s “E-Star” Award for its excellent exports program.
Lincoln Electric invests in expanding its global manufacturing footprint, the largest undertaking in its history, constructing or upgrading 10 plants throughout the world.
The acquisition of Vernon Tool Company, a manufacturer of computer-controlled pipe cutting equipment, expands Lincoln’s automation solutions, while acquisitions in China and Poland further enhance the Company’s global market position.
President George W. Bush visits Lincoln Electric’s world headquarters in Euclid, Ohio, tours the manufacturing campus and praises the Company’s employees for their global competitiveness.
Ohio Governor Ted Strickland honors Lincoln Electric as the state’s Large Business Exporter of the Year and attends the grand opening of the Company’s Automation Center of Excellence.
The acquisition of Brastak in Brazil expands the Company’s offering of brazing products and its Electro-Arco acquisition in Portugal adds to its manufacturing capacity in Europe.
Focusing on the future while managing through a challenging economic environment, Lincoln Electric introduces 108 new products within a nine-month period, including the VRTEX™ 360, a virtual welding training system.
The Company opens a 100,000-square-foot welding consumables facility in Chennai, India, to serve growing demand in the Asia Pacific region.
Lincoln Electric also acquires full ownership of Jinzhou Jin Tai Welding and Metal Co. to expand its manufacturing capacity in China, the fastest growing welding market in the world.
The Lincoln Electric Company celebrates its 115th anniversary year.
The Company is also the subject of the book Spark, written by Canadian economics journalist Frank Koller. The book recognizes Lincoln Electric for its rich history, strong culture and fundamental principles that have enabled it to continue providing excellent value to customers, shareholders and employees throughout the years.
Lincoln celebrates record sales of $2.7 billion as end markets recover from the Great Recession, product innovation, and through four acquisitions. These include Torchmate (cutting tables and systems), Techalloy (alloy consumables), Arc Products (orbital TIG welding systems), and Severstal welding – further expanding Lincoln’s footprint in Russia.
Christopher L. Mapes, a member of Lincoln’s Board of Directors since 2010, is named Chief Operating Officer of the Company.
Lincoln senior management continue to convey the Company’s unique legacy and culture to new audiences at speaking venues such as the Chautauqua Institution and Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management.
Lincoln constructs a 443-foot-tall, 2.5 megawatt wind turbine at its world headquarters and manufacturing campus in Cleveland, Ohio. The wind turbine will generate up to 10% of the energy used by the Company’s operations with annual savings of approximately $500,000.
Lincoln continues to expand in 2012, acquiring four companies in the high-growth areas of automation and alloy-based consumables which predominately serve high demanding applications in areas such as the oil and gas sector. These acquisitions are: Tennessee Rand, Wayne Trail, Burny Kaliburn and WearTech. Christopher L. Mapes is named President and CEO and John M. Stropki serves as Executive Chairman of the Board.
Lincoln leadership transitions from John M. Stropki, who retired after 41 years with the Company, to Christopher L. Mapes, who is now Chairman, President and CEO.
While sales held steady during the year, operating profit margins peak at a record 15% and record cash flows from operations is achieved.
Two acquisitions in automation, Robolution GmbH and Burlington Automation, are completed and position Lincoln as the largest arc welding automation solutions provider in the industry.
Lincoln Electric also earns the President’s “E-Star” Award again for its excellent export program. This is Lincoln’s second recognition and is only 1 of 2 companies to earn the award more than once. Lincoln Canada is the first welding organization worldwide to qualify for ISO50001 certification focused on energy management.
Lincoln Electric continues to invest in growth and innovation with the acquisition of Easom Automation Systems for heavy fabrication automation solutions, and RealWeld Systems Inc., which expands Lincoln’s educational and training solutions. Additionally the Company licenses technologies from Helical Robotics and from NanoSteel for high-performance weld overlay and thermal spray technologies. The Company continues to generate record financial results in 2014 from its operational initiatives as it pursues its ‘2020 Vision & Strategy’.