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Parker Hannifin’s 100-year journey

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Parker Hannifin is a Fortune 250 global leader in motion and control technologies. Arthur Parker established the Parker Appliance Company on March 13, 1917 in a small loft in Cleveland, Ohio, along with his business partner Karl Clamm. He was a passionate engineer who was driven to improve the operation of complex systems and understood the importance of a culture that combined family and fairness with innovation and determination.

The first patent issued in Art’s name details a hydraulic device which regulates the speed of electric generators. In the century since, the company has been granted more than 8,000 patents, helping to set the pace of technological innovation in a wide range of diversified industrial and aerospace markets, including life sciences, oil and gas, construction and agriculture.

Traveling to a trade show in 1919, a trailer carrying the company’s entire inventory fell off a cliff east of Pittsburgh. Art was determined to rebuild. He restarted the company in 1924 with a new patent for a two-piece flared tube fitting. In 1927, Parker’s fuel system is on board the Spirit of St. Louis as Charles Lindbergh completes the first transatlantic flight.

With 40 patents and sales of $3 million in 1939, Parker responded to the country’s call to arms by focusing on just one customer—the U.S. government. During World War II, Parker grew from 910 employees in 1940 to 2,600 in 1941. Sales increased 700%.

Art Parker died suddenly on New Year’s Day in 1945. To keep the company running when the war ended, Helen Parker reinvested the proceeds from Art’s $1 million life insurance policy back into the company. She hired new management and together they decided to diversify.

In 1957, Parker acquires the Hannifin Company, manufacturer of cylinders and valves, expanding their offering to include all of the components of a fluid power system.

Parker’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time in 1964 and two years later, Parker is named to the Fortune 500. Art Parker’s son Pat becomes the company president in 1969 as the company begins its support of every U.S. space mission, including the historic Apollo 11 moon landing.

In 1972, the Parflex Division is established in Ravenna, Ohio, to focus on thermoplastic hose manufacturing for extreme applications in existing and emerging markets, including but definitely not limited to over-the-sheave hoses.

After a decade of strategic global growth, Parker reaches sales of $1 billion in 1980. The company grows to serve customers in 120 countries by 1993.

After more than 60 years of operation at the former Hupp Automobile Plant, Parker moves its global headquarters to Mayfield Heights, Ohio, on the east side of Cleveland in 1997.

Marking 100 years in 2017, Parker has a presence in 50 countries with approximately 50,000 team members, 400,000 customers, 800,000 products and annual sales over $12 billion.

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