The Rexnord Corporation came about due to a merger in 1970 and over time has become a major supplier of power transmission machinery and water management systems. During the last four decades this company has undergone numerous ownership changes but has maintained its profitability by actively diversifying its product lines and cultivating a strong international presence. Its Milwaukee roots, however, can be traced back over a century.
Rexnord was established when two of the area’s major manufacturers—Rex Chainbelt and Nordberg—merged in 1970. Both companies had long served the heavy manufacturing industry. In an attempt to diversify production and stave off the potential risks of serving only one sector of the economy, Rexnord officials spent the rest of the decade investing in a wide range of other technologies. Such foresight helped the company to remain profitable through the recession that began in 1981, a downturn that had a heavy impact on Milwaukee corporations.
In order to maintain that profitability, Rexnord officials spent much of the 1980s divesting a number of the company’s newer divisions, such as its Gas Detection Products Division and Railway Maintenance Equipment Company. In spite of its best efforts to remain an independently-owned company, however, Rexnord was bought out by Banner Industries in 1987 and has since changed hands numerous times. It has been owned by the Carlyle Group and Apollo Management LP, among others.
Once the economy recovered, Rexnord began a cautious expansion plan which has continued to the present day. The corporation initially sought out companies that complemented existing lines—a strategy by which it acquired another well-established Milwaukee firm, Falk Corporation, in 2005. It has also acquired overseas firms which have provided a gateway into new and developing markets. Rexnord maintains its Milwaukee presence, with manufacturing facilities located in West Milwaukee and its water division headquarters situated in the Milwaukee Global Water Center.
- ^ Jeff Engel, “Rexnord Exploring Possible Sale,” Milwaukee Business Journal, February 12, 2013, accessed January 28, 2016.
- ^ “Rexnord Corporation History,” International Directory of Company Histories, vol. 21 (Chicago, IL: St. James Press, 1998), www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/rexnord-corporationhistory/, accessed January 26, 2016, now available at http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/rexnord-corporation-history/, last accessed August 14, 2017. While the two companies merged in 1970, the name was not changed to Rexnord until 1973. See entries for Chain Belt Company and Nordberg for more details on the origins of these companies and further explanation of their individual products prior to 1970.
- ^ “Rexnord Corporation History.” The company was very successful throughout the 1970s, with over 17,000 employees, fifty-one North American plants, and twenty-two overseas operations by the decade’s end. See also John Torinus, Jr., “Change in corporate Culture Formidable and Painful Task,” Milwaukee Sentinel, March 19, 1985, 1, part 4. As Torinus explains, the company scaled back some of its traditional manufacturing in an effort to buy new companies that were “higher on the technology ladder.” This was the start of Rexnord’s foray into industrial automation—a move that was undone a few years later, when the company was taken over by Banner Industries in 1987.
- ^ Larry Engel, “Rexnord Technologies Sold to Texas Company,” Milwaukee Sentinel, July 8, 1987, 5, part 2. Engel noted that Rexnord’s new parent company (Banner Industries) was carrying out a plan to streamline operations. The plan was put into place by Rexnord officials prior to the takeover in an attempt to make the company less vulnerable to a takeover. In the wake of that plan’s failure and the Banner takeover, however, Banner considered a sale of Rexnord Automation as well as Nordberg, Inc. itself.
- ^ Mike Zahn, “Head Prevails over Heart, as Rexnord Marries Investor Steiner for Money,” Milwaukee Journal, February 1, 1987, 1D.
- ^ Rick Romell, “Sale to Keep Rexnord in Private Hands,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 26, 2006, 1D. See also Jeff Engel, “Rexnord Gives Up Sales Plans: Bloomberg,” Milwaukee Business Journal, May 2, 2013, www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2013/05/02/rexnord-give-up-sales-plans-bloomberg.html, accessed January 26, 2016, now available at https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2013/05/02/rexnord-gives-up-sales-plans-bloomberg.html, last accessed August 14, 2017. Engel notes that the company was once again looking to sell either one or both of its divisions but nixed the plan after they did not receive any attractive offers.
- ^ “Rexnord Completes Acquisition of Falk Corporation,” After Market News, May 17, 2005, accessed January 18, 2016. Rexnord bought Falk from Sundstrand Corporation for $295 million. Rexnord had first shown interest in Falk decades earlier, but lost out when Sundstrand outbid them. See John Gurda, A Good Name in Industry (Milwaukee: The Falk Corporation, 1991), 145-148. Other major acquisitions which complemented the company’s existing production included its purchase of Precision Gearing in 2003 and of Green Turtle Technologies (a water management company). See Denise Lockwood, “Rexnord Buys Precision Gear Holdings,” Milwaukee Business Journal, December 17, 2003, accessed January 26, 2016; David Schulyer, “Rexnord Buys Wastewater Products Provider Green Turtle,” Milwaukee Business Journal, April 16, 2014, accessed January 26, 2016.
- ^ Denise Lockwood, “Rexnord Buys Companies in Italy and India,” Milwaukee Business Journal, November 17, 2014, accessed January 26, 2016. Lockwood notes that the purchase of these two companies (Tollock SpA in Italy and Euroflex in India) represented an expansion into international markets and in the case of India an expansion into “an important developing economy.”
- ^ Tom Daykin, “Rexnord Execs Moving to Milwaukee’s Global Water Center,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 31, 2014, www.jsonline.com/business/rexnord-execs-moving-to-milwaukees-global-water-center-b99237256z1-25329441.html, accessed January 26, 2016.