| 12/09/2008 | 0 Comments

What started in 1948 as a small, family operated business in the Pacific Northwest has turned into a multi-million dollar corporation with multiple factories, world-wide sales, and one of the most recognizable brands in the automotive aftermarket. Warn Industries, the leading manufacturer of off-road accessories, industrial hoists and winches, utility products, and driveline disconnects is proud to announce its 60th anniversary!

Warn_11Founded in 1948 in Seattle, when Arthur Warn developed a revolutionary locking hub system allowing surplus World War II Jeeps to operate in two-wheel drive for civilian use. This invention converting thousands Jeeps into useful, on-road vehicles, created the hub industry and not only made the vehicles more drivable on the street but also improved fuel economy. This development paved the way for other fuel-saving ideas that are still in use today, such as center disconnects and automatic locking hubs.

Warn_3In 1959, WARN developed another revolutionary product; one that would transform the face of offroading as we know it: the electric winch. With pioneering features such as a rugged drive train, the first recreational winch quickly became the leading brand for off-road racers, avid four wheelers, weekend adventurers and hard working ranchers. WARN now makes winch applications for trucks and SUVs, powersports vehicles, industrial applications, and utility purposes.

Warn_4Warn Industries added to its product family throughout the 1970s with manual and automatic hubs for all 4WD vehicles, new electric and hydraulic winches, military winches and new winch mounting systems. By the end of the decade, the company began its long-standing relationship with Ford Motor Company, established worldwide product distribution capabilities and opened manufacturing operations near Portland, Oregon. The WARN military winches have since become the “winch of choice” for manufacturers such as AM General, manufacturer of the Hummer.

Warn_1 Warn_2Warn Industries introduced more new products to the winch market in the 1980s, including the industry’s first 3-stage planetary gear train and free-spooling clutch, a new utility model, and the industry’s first all terrain vehicle (ATV) winch. Continuing to diversify its product line the company also added fender flares and off-road accessory products.

Warn_8Also in the late 80’s the ATV market was emerging, and WARN introduced the industry’s first ATV winch and was issued at patent in 1988. By 1986, the company had moved its headquarters to Portland, Oregon and Michael Warn, Arthur Warn’s grandson, became Warn Industries’ new Chairman of the Board and CEO.

Warn_131991 to 1999 were pivotal years for Warn Industries. The company moved to just-in-time manufacturing, implemented Total Quality Control practices and received ISO 9001/QS-9000 certification. To complement its military involvement, the company also created an industrial division, building winches and accessories for the towing and recovery market. In the mid-90’s, WARN’s ATV division grew as fast as the powersports industry, and WARN established relationships with OEM’s such as Polaris, Yamaha, and Bombardier. In 1997, Warn Industries opened its state-of-the-art world headquarters, a 200,000 sq. ft. manufacturing and distribution facility. This helped it to become the dominant winch manufacturer in the ATV market segment and the number one supplier of wheel-end disconnect technology to OEM customers.

Warn_9Mike Warn decided to step away from the business in 2000, selling 100% of the company in a management buyout led by Jon Kreitz, Endeavour Capital (Portland, Oregon) and Norwest Equity Partners (Minneapolis, Minnesota). This transaction brought a new infusion of capital into Warn Industries, allowing the company to pursue commercialization of its proprietary wheel-end technology with automotive OEMs, continued rapid expansion of its strong ATV business and support for marketing its leading core products.

Warn_7In 2002, Warn Industries introduced WARN Works, a new product line designed for the professional workers and do-it-yourselfers who need a powerful tool to assist them. WARN implemented a Red Letter dealer program, comprising of over 200 elite members of WARN authorized retail outlets that help provide consumers with the highest level of WARN brand product information, availability and service.

Warn_12In 2005, WARN opened a sales office in the Netherlands, added a Distribution Center in Clackamas, Oregon, a distribution facility in Gahanna, Ohio and expanded its manufacturing capability by opening a new production plant in Saltillo, Mexico. In 2005 and 2006, WARN brought several innovative new products to the market, including the PowerPlant compressor winch and the PullzAll tool, a hand-held electric pulling tool.

In late 2007, Thomas Giacomini previous CEO was promoted to President of the Dover Industrial Products Material Handling Platform, and John McCalla was selected and promoted as WARN’s CEO and President. Concerning the companies anniversary he says: „We are extremly proud of WARN’s outstanding achievements throughout the last 60 years. Warn Industries‘ employees remain dedicated to delivering outstanding, innovative products to our customers around the world.“

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Category: HISTORY

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