Replica of the Original Governor Model Patented by Amos Woodward
The Beginning of Woodward
Did you know that Woodward traces its founding to May 31, 1870, which is the date Amos Woodward received a patent for his water wheel governor, and not the date that he founded his company?
In 1870, Amos Woodward worked at the N.C. Thompson Company, a machine shop. It was there that he developed the improved water wheel governor and received his patent. His governor was so successful that after two years, Amos decided to begin his own governor company.
In 1872, Amos Woodward was 43 years old and had three young children. He had a stable job but a successful invention that was earning him attention and additional profits. Amos decided to strike out on his own and began the A.W. Woodward Company. His willingness to take risks and drive for a superior-quality product are why Woodward is here today.
A Big Move
The A. W. Woodward Company rents a three-story building at 658-660 Race Street, which formerly housed the N. C. Thompson Company.
Amos Woodward incorporates the Woodward Governor Company.
The notion of sharing in the success of the company is deeply ingrained into Woodward’s culture. In fact, it is one of the principles that makes Woodward’s culture so distinctive.
When Woodward was incorporated in 1902, only three people held the company’s 300 shares: Amos and Elmer Woodward and secretary J. Charles Young. By 1928, seven Woodward family members and five trusted company members held company shares.
On November 1, 1939, Woodward officers began a recapitalization. Before Woodward shares were offered publicly, members were invited to buy shares below market value, regardless of their job title. By April 1940, 81 out of 306 members became shareholders. From this period on, members have been encouraged to act as owners.
The Innovations of L’Orange
Prosper L’Orange had a dream: to build a diesel engine that was small and fast enough to power an automobile. Between 1908 and 1921, L’Orange worked to make that dream a reality. On March 14, 1909, L’Orange applied for a patent for his prechamber combustion principle. This addition to the diesel engine allowed the engine to produce greater speeds then previous compression-ignition engines.
Following the disruption of World War I, L’Orange returned to work and on March 18, 1919, he applied for another patent for improvements to the prechamber principle. That same year, he completed the pintle-type injection nozzle. In 1921, L’Orange developed a variable injection pump which regulated the power output of a diesel engine with great precision.
All these pieces moved engineers one step closer to fitting a diesel engine inside an automobile, which finally occurred in 1923.
A Bigger Building
The construction of a five-story facility is completed on Mill Street to better accommodate the expanding operations.
Passing the Torch
Amos Woodward dies on March 23. Elmer Woodward becomes president and chairman of the board.
The General Electric J79 jet engine
In a world where clients may come and go, Woodward has prided itself on establishing solid, long-term relationships with its customers. This is a testament to the quality and innovation that Woodward delivers on a consistent basis.
One such client is General Electric, a household name and a manufacturer of commercial, military and general aviation engines and parts. Woodward's relationship with GE dates back to the late 1930s. Over the years, GE has become Woodward's biggest customer, and in turn, Woodward has produced a number of innovative parts and controls especially for GE.
One of the first products that Woodward manufactured for GE was the fuel control for the GE J79 series jet engine. After the war, Woodward started producing governors for GE's gas turbine engines.
The aviation business boomed, and Woodward and GE continued their journey together. "If you look through the lens of early aviation, in the ’50s and ’60s, this was when passenger aircraft really kind of started to happen," said Billy Kent, Woodward’s leader for global product management and marketing.
In the mid-1950s, GE's CF6-50 series of jet engines, which had the Woodward 3059 control, were used in many commercial aircraft, including some Boeing 747s. Orders for the 3059 control doubled in 1977. In addition, GE's TF34 engine, which powered the U.S. Air Force's A10 fighter, used the Woodward 3013 control. Production of the 3013 increased in 1978.
Woodward's work with GE pivoted in the 1990s, Kent said, as the digital age approached. During the mid-1990s, Woodward began its super FMU project, which replaced all of the rotating speed controls with computer-aided speed controls. Even now, this is Woodward’s number-one market share product.
"The relationship with GE allowed us to grow beyond a one-product company," Kent said.
GE taught Woodward not to be complacent. "You have to invest in technology," Kent said. "Business isn't always about the products. It's also about the relationship. While we always strive to solve technical problems, we've also risen to the bar to solve business-level problems."
Together, Woodward and GE have grown, diversified and shared in each other's milestones. They’ve watched as history was being made, and made some history of their own.
Elmer Woodward’s Promise
During the Great Depression, three Rockford, Illinois, banks failed in the same month. Woodward officers suggested cutting back weekly hours from 60 to 20 in order to stretch work out over a longer period. The plan would prevent layoffs, but it also required members to take a pay cut. Fortunately, the members agreed to these terms.
Company president Elmer Woodward personally guaranteed each member’s salary based on the 20-hour schedule. He also made personal loans, borrowed money on behalf of members, and helped them pay their taxes and buy winter fuel. The company did not return to profitability until Elmer Woodward had launched his new inventions for diesel and aircraft engines, but the Depression showed how mutual respect between members and officers kept the Woodward Way alive.
L’Orange Is Founded
Rudolf L'Orange establishes Gebrüder L'Orange Motorzubehör GmbH.
Elmer Woodward installing his made-onsite diesel governor for Fairbanks-Morse Company, 1933
Winton Engine Company
Providing the best possible service means more than just meeting or even exceeding a customer's needs. Truly successful companies listen closely to what their clients are asking for and, if necessary, create a specific product just for them.
This is Woodward’s modus operandus: develop unique solutions to solve customers' problems. It’s a fundamental approach that dates back to Woodward's founding in 1870 and has never wavered, even when corporate America was facing one of its most challenging times during the Great Depression.
In 1933, Woodward manufactured a product specifically for the Winton Engine Co. of Cleveland. Winton, which made diesel engines, asked Woodward whether it could build governors for new engines that Winton was developing for trains.
It wasn’t the first time Woodward was asked to do something new and different. But CEO Elmer Woodward told sales engineer Irl Martin that an internal combustion (IC) governor should suffice. “If the type IC governor won’t handle the job, we don’t want the business,” Woodward said.
Martin disagreed. Based on his initial meeting with Winton’s leaders in Cleveland, he determined that the IC governor wouldn’t do the job—it was too large. Moreover, Winton's chief engineer didn’t want to rely on an outside company to build the new governor; he thought Winton’s people could do it themselves.
Martin called the engineer’s bluff and said that Woodward didn't want to sell Winton a governor to begin with. In the end, the engineer gave Martin the answer he was looking for. He said: “Listen . . . I'll tell you who's going to build the governor for us, and you're going to do it.”
Martin had convinced Winton to purchase a governor that did not exist. Now, he needed to persuade Woodward to follow through. Martin told Elmer Woodward that turning down the project would affect the company's "reputation for integrity and capability"—company standards that meant the world to Woodward and the way he conducted business. Woodward ultimately approved the project, resulting in the creation of the spark ignition (SI) engine governor in 1933.
The SI engine governor was so successful that it remained among the company’s product offerings for 20 years. It serves as just one example of Woodward’s can-do way of conducting business.
While governors for waterwheels became less central to Woodward’s business by the 1930s, the company developed the cabinet actuator in 1935, which was adopted by the federal government for Great Depression-era hydroelectric projects such as Hoover Dam.
James Sundstedt, age 25, operates a jig borer in a cover photo for American Machinist, November 21, 1946
All in the Family
Woodward, Inc. is no longer owned by the Woodward family; however, it is still a family-oriented business.
In 1939, James Sundstedt was friends with Mary Barb Martin, Irl Martin’s daughter. After Sundstedt graduated from high school, Martin offered him a job at Woodward. Sundstedt worked his way up the ladder before retiring in 1983 as a vice president and general manager at Fort Collins.
James was not the only Sundstedt to build a career at Woodward. Sundstedt’s sons John and Peter worked for Woodward for 36 and 16 years, respectively. Another son, Mark, was in a university management course where his professor described how companies should be run, and Mark realized that was how Woodward operated. He has been with Woodward for 30 years so far. The Sundstedt family has a total of 126 years of service.
Building a Landmark
The company moves into a new facility on North Second Street, adjacent to Loves Park. The new plant is climate controlled and contains a first aid room and cafeteria.
The Declaration of Intent and Preamble to the Corporate Partnership
In All Fairness
The principle of fairness permeates Woodward’s earliest history. However, it was not until 1946 that this core value was formalized in writing.
Building upon Woodward’s legacy of profit-sharing and caring for members, Irl Martin developed the concept of a corporate partnership between members and stockholders. Martin envisioned a corporate family, where everyone took responsibility for themselves and each other, and everyone was rewarded according to their ability.
Following the end of World War II, Martin devoted a great deal of time and effort to fine-tuning his plan. He wrote about it frequently in the company newsletter, asking for members’ feedback. On October 1, 1946, the membership voted to accept the Corporate Partnership.
Following World War II, L’Orange expanded its product line to include daily-use objects such as lighters and pencil sharpeners. Rudolf L’Orange invented several products in 1950 that rebuilt the company following the devastation of war.
In 1958, Rudolf L’Orange, cofounder of the eponymous Woodward legacy company, died suddenly from a heart attack while on a business trip. Following his death, his wife, Brita L’Orange, became the owner of L’Orange. Born in 1909 in Riga, Latvia, Brita Stegman was a ballerina before marrying Rudolf L’Orange in 1940.
With the support of Helmut Zenth, the company flourished under Brita L’Orange’s leadership. In 1962, Dr. Werner Mutz and Dr. Winfried Höfken took over leadership, and Brita L’Orange turned her focus toward members’ welfare. She introduced retirement and disability pensions. She also oversaw the construction of a factory in Stuttgart in 1962, the new factory building in Glatten in 1964, and the renovation of Rellingen in 1970. In 1979, she sold the company to SWF-Auto Electric GmbH Bietigheim, a subsidiary of the American conglomerate ITT Automotive.
Across the Pond
Operations begin in Bolton, England.
The first two classes of the Recruit Training Program.
Do you want to work for Woodward?
In the late 1950s, Irl Martin had a question: Could teenage boys be taught the Woodward Way?
Martin tested his theory on his teenage grandson, Jim Bittle. After observing Bittle’s work on Woodward’s yard crew, Martin launched the Recruit Training Program in 1960. The program hired high school boys ages 14 and older for summer work. For the first two summers, these recruits worked on the yard crew. The following two summers were spent in the shop. Along with technical training, recruits also learned self-discipline, teamwork, and took classes on government and citizenship.
In 1965, Martin expanded the scope of the program, sending four recruits from Rockford to the Woodward plants in the Netherlands for the summer. Craig Ellis was among the first recruits to travel to Europe and live with Woodward families there. “That's the kind of thing that was pretty special,” Ellis said. “I remember it fondly.” Ellis returned to the United States for a 54-year career with Woodward.
MPC Products’ Niles facility.
The Beginning of MPC
While Woodward was closing in on its centennial, MPC was just getting started. Brothers Joe and Vince Roberti acquired MPC Products Corporation of Skokie, Illinois, in 1962. The company focused heavily on engineering motors and sensors. MPC’s expertise soon caught the eye of Woodward, and MPC was a supplier for Woodward for a number of years.
The Robertis developed a culture similar to the Woodward Way: customer friendly, with a strong engineering focus and a dedication to its members, both personally and professionally. Similar to Elmer Woodward during the Great Depression, the Robertis offered jobs and loans to people who needed them. The layout of the MPC facility reflected this closeness; all the divisions were in close proximity to each other.
In place of succession, the Roberti brothers planned to sell MPC—preferably to Woodward. While neither brother lived to see their plan come to fruition, in 2009, Woodward acquired the long-coveted MPC. The established culture of respect for members made for a seamless integration.
Today, a family descendant, Steve Roberti, serves as Corporate Director of Legal Compliance in Fort Collins.
The first electric governor enters production.
Titan I Missile
Woodward’s load-sensing governors (LSGs) were on the Nordberg engines in Titan I missile complexes and at the North American Air Defense (NORAD) headquarters in Colorado.
A branch office opens in Sydney, Australia.
By the 1970s, the aviation industry began to adopt larger jets—among them the iconic double-decker Boeing 747, 8 which featured General Electric’s CF6-50 series jet engine with Woodward’s 3059 controls.
The 1971 Constitution
“To form as perfect a shareholder-worker industrial relationship as possible…”
In 1946, Irl Marin introduced the Corporate Partnership as guidelines for shareholder and member relations. In 1971, he codified the Partnership in the Woodward Constitution. With a preamble based on the United States Constitution, the Woodward Constitution stated that “A basic concept in this company is that it will not intentionally seek or knowingly accept business at a loss or excessive profit. It is mutually beneficial to both the Woodward Governor Company and its customers for our combined endeavors to generate a fair and justifiable profit.”
On October 1, 1971, the 25th anniversary of the Corporate Partnership, the membership voted to accept the Constitution. Like the U.S. Constitution, the Woodward Constitution allows for amendments. At a Board of Directors meeting January 7, 1981, the directors voted to legally charge their successors with upholding the Corporate Partnership.
Woodward invents the first digital control system for the Harpoon Missile.
A plant in Campinas, Brazil, is established.
Engineers begin development of the full authority digital electronic control (FADEC) for aircraft turbine engines.
In the early 1990s, Woodward’s Engine Controls department simplified and upgraded several new systems that saved space and were easier to use, including locomotive engine control systems.
Joint Venture in India
Woodward forms a joint venture to open a plant in India.
Woodward acquires Einspritzgerätewerk Aken, a fuel pump manufacturer in Aken, Germany, that is renamed Woodward Governor Germany GmbH.
HSC Controls products.
A Committment to the Future
Woodward made several key acquisitions in order to stay competitive in the 1990s. These acquisitions ultimately played a role in Woodward’s shift toward building complete fuel delivery systems.
In May 1994, Woodward acquired HSC Controls Inc. of Buffalo, New York, which specialized in electromagnetic devices such as torque motors and servo valves. HSC was the first acquisition that Tom Gendron helped execute. He went on to play an increasingly important role in Woodward’s growth and transformation.
Following the introduction of Gendron’s Fuel Delivery System Strategy in late September 1997, Woodward continued to fill gaps in its fuel delivery capabilities. In June 1998, Woodward acquired Fuel Systems Textron (FST) of Zeeland, Michigan. FST produced fuel injection nozzles, spray manifolds, and fuel metering and distribution valves for gas turbine engines.
The Forbidden City
Woodward opens an office in Beijing, China.
Train to Busan
Woodward establishes an office in Busan, South Korea.
L’Orange introduces the world's first electronic common-rail injection system for large diesel engines.
Woodward acquires Leonhard-Reglerbau, a power generation startup in Stuttgart, Germany.
Woodward acquires Schaltanlagen-Elektronik-Geräte GmbH & Co. KG (SEG), an energy control company in Kempen, Germany.
Woodward moves its headquarters from Rockford, Illinois, to Fort Collins, Colorado.
Woodward acquires Integral Drive Systems AG (IDS), a company that engineers, designs and produces wind converters and renewable energy electronics. IDS is based in Switzerland, with a plant in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Prestwick members celebrate 20 years.
Woodward’s Continuing Promise
With age comes perspective. When faced with market fluctuations, 150-year-old Woodward takes the long view and considers what is best for the company and its members before acting.
In 2012 and 2013, a decrease in demand forced managers at Prestwick in Scotland to consider laying off members. Instead, the work week was cut from 37 to 34 hours, though members continued to receive pay for the full 37-hour week. The three hours were placed in a “time bank,” which members worked off when work picked up six months later.
Like Elmer Woodward during the Great Depression, Prestwick used ingenuity to keep its members employed during a rough patch.
Woodward purchases GE Aviation Systems’ thrust reverser actuation systems business in Duarte, California.
Woodward publishes its first annual sustainability report.
As part of the journey to operational and product development excellence, Tom Gendron created a cross-functional team in the mid-2010s to determine how best to support customers and meet their expectations for defect-free products. With support from Gendron and the Board of Directors, the team developed a two-pronged approach. Standard Work formalizes best practices across Woodward. Leader Standard Work refocuses leaders’ efforts on removing barriers for members to do their best work.
The output of the team became True North: “One Woodward without waste, committed to world-class safety, perfect quality, perfect delivery, and customer satisfaction.”
Woodward has become known as a leader in the aerospace and industrial markets sectors, working with clients across the globe. But Woodward is also in the business of saving lives.
That's just what happened in 2016, when Woodward's ProTech®TPS PLC (programmable logic controller) safety system protected eight technicians who were installing insulation on a turbine at a gas processing plant in Saudi Arabia. Abu Dhabi-based Turbine Services & Solutions (TS&S), a Woodward client, was overseeing the project.
The ProTechTPS, which is 12 inches tall and weighs 60 pounds, is designed to safely shut off plant equipment when it senses that there could be a safety issue of some kind. In this particular instance, the people working on the turbine were going for a start, when the Woodward ProTech showed that the turbine suddenly oversped and reached 4,000 RPM in the span of a second. They couldn't believe what they were seeing, and wound up repeating this start six times just to be certain.
The technicians wound up tearing down the turbine. They found a valve that was stuck open, and when they turned on steam, the steam entered the turbine. This is what caused the turbine to overspeed. Fortunately, the ProTech engaged before this happened, and shut down the system.
"The only thing that saved those eight people's lives was Woodward's ProTech. If that (the Woodward ProTech) wasn't in place, the turbine would have oversped and the blades of the machine would have exited," said Rich Kamphaus, Woodward's global sales director for the steam and compressor markets. "It would have essentially blown up, parts flying everywhere, and then ultimately fire."
The result would have been dangerous, even fatal. There were more than 200 people in the plant at the time of the incident. The 20-ton turbine could have propelled objects up through the roof of the building. A major disaster was averted.
Word-of-mouth following the incident helped increase ProTech sales. More and more plants in the Middle East made ProTech standard equipment, Kamphaus noted. Today, Woodward sells about 700 units a year.
"We realized there was a need in the market to save people's lives and to help protect the equipment from this type of dangerous event," Kamphaus said.
Woodward has increased its involvement with the American Petroleum Institute (API) and assisted the organization in updating its specifications. The API standard now states that any new turbines must have overspeed protection that automatically tests itself.
Among about 200 Woodward clients, there are about 6,000 ProTech units in operation today. Based on the success of the safety system and the ever-increasing awareness of its value, Woodward is examining how it can expand the ProTech’s capabilities, paving the way for the next generation of life-saving technology.
Woodward opens a new facility in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
Woodward celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2020.