Definitions

GKN

GKN

GKN plc is a leading British engineering company. The Company was formerly known as Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds and can tracing its origins back to 1759 and the birth of the industrial revolution. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

History

Foundations: 1759 to 1899

The origins of GKN lie in the founding of the Dowlais Ironworks in the village of Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales by Thomas Lewis and Isaac Wilkinson. John Guest was appointed manager of the works in 1767, having moved from Broseley. In 1786, John Guest was succeeded by his son, Thomas Guest, who formed the Dowlais Iron Company with his son-in-law William Taitt. Guest introduced many innovations and the works prospered.

Under Guest's leadership, alongside his manager John Evans, the Dowlais Ironworks gained the reputation of being "one of the World's great industrial concerns". Though the Bessemer process was licensed in 1856, nine years of detailed planning and project management were needed before the first steel was produced. The company thrived with its new cost-effective production methods, forming alliances with the Consett Iron Company and Krupp. By 1857 G.T. Clark and William Menelaus, his manager, had constructed the "Goat Mill", the world's most powerful rolling mill.

By the mid 1860s, Clark's reforms had born fruit in renewed profitability. Clark delegated day-to-day management to Menelaus, his trusteeship terminating in 1864 when ownership passed to Sir Ivor Guest. However, Clark continued to direct policy, in particular, building a new plant at the docks at Cardiff and vetoing a joint-stock company. He formally retired in 1897.

Nuts and bolts: 1900 to 1965

On 9 July 1900, the Dowlais Iron Company and Arthur Keen's Patent Nut and Bolt Company merged to form Guest, Keen & Co. Ltd.

Nettlefolds Limited, a leading manufacturer of fasteners, had been established in Smethwick in 1854 and was acquired in 1902 leading to the change of name to Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds.

These mergers heralded half a century in which the name GKN became synonymous with the manufacture of screws, nuts, bolts and other fasteners. The company reflected the vertical integration fashionable at the time embracing activities from coal and ore extraction, and iron and steel making to manufacturing finished goods.

Beyond the fastener: 1966 to the present

In 1966, in a programme of diversification, the company acquired Hardy Spicer Limited of Birmingham, England, a manufacturer of constant-velocity joints. Historically, such joints had had few applications, even following the improved design proposed by Alfred H. Rzeppa in 1936. However, in 1959, Alec Issigonis had developed the revolutionary Mini motor car which relied on such joints for its novel front wheel drive technology. The massive expansion in the exploitation of front wheel drive in the 1970s and 1980s led to the acquisition of other similar businesses and a 43% share of the world market by 2002.

During the 1980s, GKN sought to invest its earnings from constant-velocity joints in developing other nascent technologies. However, little success attended these efforts and in 1991 the company resolved to abandon further research and to redivert its development efforts towards its constant-velocity joint business in which it was facing increasing competition from Japan. During the same period, the company finally withdrew from the manufacture of fasteners and from steel production. Changing its name to GKN plc, it diversified into military vehicles, aerospace and industrial services.

In 1994, GKN acquired the helicopter manufacturing business of Westland Aircraft. In 1998 the armoured vehicle business was sold to Alvis plc, and subsequently incorporated into Alvis Vickers Ltd. In July 2000 Finmeccanica and GKN agreed to merge their respective helicopter subsidiaries to form AgustaWestland. In 2004 GKN completed the sale of its 50% shareholding in AgustaWestland to Finmeccanica.

From the late 1990s, the company built a major global business in powder metallurgy, which operates as the GKN Sinter Metals group.

In 2008 the Company acquired part of the Airbus plant at Filton near Bristol for £150 million.

Operations

The Company is organised as follows:

  • Automotive
    • Driveshafts
    • Torque technology
    • Autostructures
    • Cylinder liners
    • Emitec Joint Venture
  • Powder metallurgy
    • GKN Sinter Metals
    • Hoeganaes
    • Off Highway & Industrial Distribution Services
  • Aerospace
    • Propulsion systems and special products
    • Aerostructures North America
    • Aerostructures Europe

References

Bibliography

External links

Search another word or see GKNon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature