On June 27, 1902, Elias Gunnell, Charles West, and Lynford Geer launched the Manitowoc Dry Dock Company, employing 90 men to construct and repair wooden ships. They probably wouldn’t recognize the company today, but they would recognize the company values that still hold true over one hundred years later.
With the enterprising spirit and foresight that became hallmarks of Manitowoc, the company constructed a steel fabrication building and began to build steel ships just two years later. In 1910, the company’s name changed to Manitowoc Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company.
The early 20th century brought tumultuous times for the shipbuilding business. At an unstable time for the U.S. economy, Manitowoc had to take advantage of any opportunity for growth. In 1925, CEO Charles West began building cranes on a subcontract basis for the Moore Speedcrane Company, a move that marked the beginning of our legacy of world class cranes manufacturing. Due to its diversified line of products and services, Manitowoc was the only Great Lakes shipyard to survive the financial strain of the nation’s failing economy in the 1930s.
From the 1930s, business boomed and Manitowoc began hiring workers from as far away as Minnesota and Michigan. In the summer of 1944, the first plans arose for a third line of business to complement the cranes and shipbuilding operations.
In 1945, Equipment Works was launched, creating products such as refrigerated trucks and dry cleaning equipment. Equipment Works would later develop into the Manitowoc Foodservice
segment which would eventually spin off into a separate company. Seven years later, in 1952, Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company celebrated its 50th anniversary, and we officially became The Manitowoc Company.
Manitowoc began its global expansion in the 1960s, when Western Europe became a growing market for U.S. construction equipment.
In the spring of 2000, Manitowoc announced its $300 million acquisition of Potain, a manufacturer of tower cranes. With Potain as part of the Manitowoc family, we added manufacturing plants in France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and China.
In 2002, Manitowoc Cranes acquired Grove Cranes, a manufacturer of mobile telescopic cranes. Grove’s manufacturing facilities in Shady Grove, Pennsylvania (USA) and Wilhelmshaven, Germany, greatly expanded our manufacturing capacity.
From the beginning as Manitowoc Dry Dock Company to today, Manitowoc has evolved into a successful, standalone Cranes business, allowing us to focus our energies and resources on being “one global Cranes team”. This is the next step in the journey, and it reflects what we have always done – adapted to changing circumstances so we can remain strong, grow, and deliver value to shareholders.