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Voyage of Vision The Manitowoc Company A Century of Extraordinary Growth

On September 9, 1940, fifteen months before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour, a shipyard in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, received a $30 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build ten submarines. The shipyard built the complex vessels so well that commanders who served on them in the Pacific called them the best in the fleet. One of the skippers, when later reassigned, "pulled strings" to be sure that his second submarine was also "Manitowoc-built." But exceptional construction wasn't the only goal the shipyard achieved. It also delivered the submarines ahead of schedule and under budget. The navy responded by ordering twenty more.

Voyage of Vision is the story of that extraordinary company, founded in 1902. First called Manitowoc Dry Dock Company, it is The Manitowoc Company today, a diversified, multi-industry, capital goods manufacturer of ships, cranes, and refrigerated foodservice equipment. The hallmarks of its century-long existence are bold vision, engineering excellence, quality workmanship, and customer service.

In Voyage of Vision you'll meet founders Elias Gunnell, Charles West, and Lynford Geer. Gunnell, an Irish immigrant, was a master shipbuilder and inventor who literally grew up in shipyards. West, a mechanical engineer just two years out of Cornell University (president of the class of 1900), was steeped in new technologies and fired with the bold, innovative spirit and positive outlook of the new century. Geer, a ninth-generation descendant of English colonists, Was the enterprise's buttoned-down financial expert.

Timing and location couldn't have been better for the three men. A government-sponsored lock and canal system had made the Great Lakes a continuous waterway that would eventually become a route to the Atlantic. With the discovery of rich iron ore deposits near Lake Superior there was a growing demand for bigger and better ships to transport ore, coal, and other bulk commodities across the lakes to steel mills and eastern markets.

Uniquely linked to this development was the city of Manitowoc, a shipbuilding centre since 1847, nicknamed "Clipper City" for its swift-sailing schooners. By the turn of the century, Manitowoc was a thriving hub for marine commerce, shipbuilding, and ship repair. The area also had an abundant supply of qualified workers.

Voyage of Vision tells the story of the company's growth from building tugs and car ferries to thousand-foot ore carriers. The Manitowoc Company's marine unit, which today consists of four shipyards, is the largest and best-equipped American shipbuilding and ship-repair organization on the Great Lakes.

Along the way, the company diversified. In 1925, Manitowoc began manufacturing cranes. You'll meet Clarence Miller, the crane division's affable first salesman who put a hundred thousand miles a year on his Nash, crisscrossing the country to nurture accounts. Also brothers Frank and John Grall who, during the Depression years, sometimes repossessed cranes by hauling them off construction sites at night. Today, Manitowoc cranes are in use around the world. Their precision-handling and reliability have earned them the reputation of being the "Cadillac" of the industry.

Following World War II, the company began manufacturing refrigerator-freezers. After a long period of development, it next introduced an ice machine that was more efficient and trouble-free than anything on the market. Among the people you'll meet are Bob Becker, who helped develop the concept and later ran the division, and Dick Smith, who demonstrated the new machine nationwide in the Manitowoc Ice-Mobile.

A special dimension of this history is The Manitowoc Company's direct participation in United States's century-long experience with industrial growth, the First World War, the Great Depression, World War II, the postwar consumer boom, peacetime atomic energy uses, offshore oil exploration, the fast food revolution, and global markets.

You'll meet the presidents who guided Manitowoc into the modern era: John West, who succeeded his father in 1957; also Ralph Helm, Fred Butler, and Terry Growcock. You'll get to know dozens of others who played key roles in the development of this remarkable company. Indeed, this book is a testament to the thousands of talented people who made The Manitowoc Company a success, and Voyage of Vision a story worth reading.

Code No. 010235, 176 pages, $91.00

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Earthmoving & Construction  
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