Amos Woodward receives Patent #103,813 for his improved waterwheel governor.
Beginning a Legacy
Amos Woodward leaves the N. C. Thompson Company to begin his waterwheel governor business, the A. W. Woodward Company.
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.
A catalog from one of Woodward’s largest European customers in the early 20th century: Alessandro Calzoni Company of Bologna, Italy, which made machinery for farming, wineries and olive oil manufacturers.
New century, new markets
As the Gilded Age came to a close and a new century of progress unfolded, Woodward’s business was booming. The company’s reputation spread across America and overseas, and governor sales doubled from 36 in 1899 to 75 in 1900. A hydraulic systems manufacturer in Bologna, Italy, and a supplier of cable car machinery in Grenoble, France, became Woodward’s top customers for the next decade . New markets emerged when domestic clients shipped Woodward governors to their own clients overseas. By 1910, the company had significant business in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America, giving Woodward a global footprint—foreshadowing the global citizenship that shapes the company today.
Amos Woodward incorporates the Woodward Governor Company.
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 Diesel Engine
Prosper L’Orange is the forebear of Woodward legacy company L’Orange. While working at Benz & Cie in 1921, he invented several key components that made diesel-powered engines possible.
Opening day celebrations for the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station near Zaporizhia, Ukraine, in October 1932. Woodward governors were used in the dam.
Sales to the Soviets
Woodward governors ended up on Russian equipment in the early 1900s, when Woodward’s American clients resold them to their own clients far across the world. The company started developing its own Russian client base in 1929 when it inked a deal with Amtorg, a Soviet trade representative in the United States, to supply governors for what was then the world’s biggest power plant. Soviet architects designed the dam, and Americans supplied engineering and construction equipment. Over the years, the Soviet Union became the largest customer of the Woodward Hoofddorp Netherlands plant, which opened in 1967. Upon the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the business was fragmented into several smaller relationships that continued after the Cold War ended.
L’Orange Is Founded
Rudolf L'Orange establishes Gebrüder L'Orange Motorzubehör GmbH.
The Great Depression
Elmer Woodward cuts hours and promises to protect employees during the Great Depression.
Beechcraft Model 18 with a Pratt & Whitney engine.
A bird! A plane!
Elmer Woodward’s invention of the aircraft propeller governor in 1934 secured Woodward’s place in the aerospace industry. Large numbers of Elmer’s aircraft propeller governors were put into military planes that served in World War II.
Following the war, Woodward worked closely with customers General Electric and Pratt & Whitney to advance the burgeoning aerospace industry.
As the industry matured, governments began adopting regulations to limit emissions. Woodward has met the challenge of these regulations, and continues to ensure that today’s products meet evolving fuel efficiency and sustainability standards.
Members attending an annual party, September 9, 1941.
Investing in Manufacturing and Members
Woodward has a long tradition of investing in innovative manufacturing facilities to prioritize worker comfort and productivity. As early as 1939, Irl Martin invested in air conditioning for the Rockford, Illinois, plant to improve working conditions and equipment performance. Over the years, Woodward has embraced designs that encourage more flexible, collaborative and environmentally friendly work conditions. The company has invested in its facilities in Rockford and Niles, Illinois, and Fort Collins, Colorado, with the goals of conserving natural resources, creating safer workspaces, and enhancing product quality.
The Woodward Governor Company goes public.
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.
Irl Martin articulates his philosophy of fairness and corporate responsibility in the Corporate Partnership.
The March 4, 1955, edition of the Fort Collins Coloradoan with stories and advertisements welcoming the company before its open house.
Fort Collins Wins the Day
As the Korean War ended, the Rockford, Illinois, plant ran out of space. Woodward needed a new facility. A team that was looking at small college towns without heavy industry narrowed the list to Laramie, Wyoming, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. However, while on a scouting mission, team member Walt Thorell made a courtesy visit to Irl Martin’s boyhood friend, Dr. Fred Humphrey, who lived just a few hours from Colorado Springs. “Why not Fort Collins?” Humphrey asked Thorell. The local Chamber of Commerce launched a campaign to attract Woodward, as well. Before long, the company was convinced. By January 1955, plant manager Art Nielsen had arrived and was converting space vacated by the Valentine Motor Company into Woodward’s first auxiliary plant.
Woodward brochure from the late 1950s, highlights the Schipol plant’s strategic central location and established Woodward standards.
Woodward Goes Dutch for a Foothold in Europe
European sales were booming in the early 1950s, and some members felt Woodward needed a centrally located plant there. Irl Martin was initially concerned that language barriers and legal differences might be difficult to overcome. But a trip to the Netherlands convinced him otherwise. By December 1955, Woodward had rented space at Schiphol, Amsterdam’s international airport. Nine years later, Woodward purchased land in nearby Hoofddorp to build a sprawling plant. Woodward parts that bore the label “Product of Holland” were soon known to be superior to their European competitors. Woodward’s high-quality products had officially made the leap across the Atlantic.
Across the Pond
Operations begin in Bolton, England.
Japan branch members at Woodward’s first Tokyo location, the Fujiya Building, ca. 1962. Front from left: Mimi Matsumoto, Tsuruzo Asami, Eiko Tada. Middle row: Takashi Abe, Walt Thorell, Takeo Yuasa, Motoichi Kurashige. Back row: Hirokazu Komatsu, Tat Hongo.
Woodward Japan: Gateway to Asia
With foreign plants already established in the Netherlands and England, Woodward opened its first Asian branch in Tokyo, Japan in 1960. Because access for foreign capital was limited, it was a small operation, initially. As Japan sought to import advanced technology to develop its industries, Woodward contributed significantly to Japanese engine, turbine, and marine-related businesses. In 1977 , a new, larger plant was constructed in nearby Tomisato. It became a launching pad for expanding Woodward plants to India, Korea, and China that still operate today.
Ontario Hydro’s Red Rock Plant
Woodward’s electric governors of the 1950s and 1960s marked major improvements in hydraulic turbine technology. Woodward’s electric-hydraulic actuator was tested in 1957 and went into operation at Ontario Hydro’s Red Rock Plant in 1960.
Woodward Japan is where it is today because of its relationship with Mitsubishi. In fact, Mitsubishi has been a customer since Woodward Japan opened for business in 1961. The two entities have been essential to each other's business and growth for many years.
Woodward produces governors, air valves, actuators and controllers for Mitsubishi and is considered a major component supplier for Mitsubishi's large engine business. Woodward started out as just one of many suppliers, but today it is currently one of Mitsubishi's top 50 partners in the steam and compressor business. Mitsubishi engines are sold in Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America.
"We provide the latest technology and advanced products to Mitsubishi's steam/gas turbine and compressor businesses, to help make Mitsubishi more competitive in the global industrial market," said Kumi Kohno, site business leader for Woodward Japan's turbine systems.
"We were able to supply the latest technology of [Mitsubishi's] turbine and compressor controls. This is one of the successful products we supply to Mitsubishi," Kohno added.
Mitsubishi regards Woodward Japan as a "unique and niche company." Mitsubishi basically couldn't manufacture its engines as efficiently as it has without Woodward's governors, controllers or gas valves, said Yasukiyo Maeta, sales director for Woodward Japan's engine systems.
Going forward, Woodward Japan has its sights set on even more expansion in its business model with this major customer. "Currently, we are aiming to be a strategic partner on [Mitsubishi's] aftermarket business expansion," Kohno said.
The two companies are in discussions about a joint agreement for Mitsubishi's aftermarket business. The future looks good for these two powerhouses.
The first electric governor enters production.
McMaster Products Corporation (MPC) is founded in Chicago. The company produces precision rotating servo control components and electromechanical assemblies.
The USS Plainview—at the time the largest hydrofoil ever built —had two General Electric J-79 Jet engines, which used Woodward’s 1307 fuel control.
A branch office opens in Sydney, Australia.
Pratt & Whitney
Like siblings spending their childhood side by side, Woodward and long-established client Pratt & Whitney (P&W) grew up together in the aerospace industry. They saw each other through the Great Depression and World War II, as well as the turbulent 1960s, and have continued working together in the years since. They have witnessed and been a part of numerous advances in the aerospace industry, with Woodward producing a variety of high-quality controls for P&W aircraft engines.
Today, P&W is part of United Technologies. It designs, manufactures and services aircraft engines and auxiliary power units. Over the years, Woodward has manufactured an estimated 500 distinct products for P&W, totaling over 300,000 deliveries.
Woodward began working with P&W back in the 1930s. As the bond between the two companies grew, Woodward eventually became the controller supplier for P&W’s PT6 aircraft engine. That engine sold close to 60,000 units.
In the 1970s, Woodward produced governors, synchronizers and synchrophasers for propeller-driven aircraft. The relationship with P&W proved fruitful as Woodward's 3212 control for turboprop engines finished design assurance tests in 1978. Later on, Woodward’s Small Aircraft Controls unit worked on a control for the P&W Canada PW206 engine.
Woodward's long-standing relationship with P&W evolved in the late 1990s when Woodward purchased Fuel Systems Textron (FST), a longtime manufacturer of fuel injection nozzles and other products used in military and commercial aircraft.
The FST purchase deepened the relationship with P&W. "FST had a very good reputation and a very good product, and they also had a very good relationship with Pratt," said Rick Rehfeldt, a retired global account manager from Woodward who worked closely with P&W.
In October 2003, Woodward announced that it would supply the ignition and integrated engine control systems for the PW615F turbofan engine, to be used in Cessna's Citation Mustang jet. This development was an important achievement because it was the first aircraft ignition system that used the ignition and combustion technology created by Woodward Industrial Controls.
"This is a substantial win for Woodward in implementing our strategy to provide fuel to burn, engine actuation, heat management, and combustion control to today's efficient engine designs,” said Marty Glass, Woodward's vice president and general manager of Aircraft Engine Systems, now retired. “It also exemplifies our ability to optimize our relationships with our customers and key suppliers to develop innovative designs that maximize performance and minimize costs."
Echoing its big leap forward in 1998, Woodward entered into an agreement with P&W in 2008 to develop fuel nozzles for PurePower engines, used in a variety of aircraft, and it expanded production of the nozzles in 2014—ensuring that Woodward’s Zeeland facility, which also services the U.S. Air Force’s B-52 fleet, would continue humming for years to come.
"The way we conduct ourselves, the way we have our core values, the way that we help the customer solve business issues, the way we're there for them when they need us—that has really resulted in a relationship (with P&W) that's better,” said Billy Kent, Woodward’s leader of global product management and marketing. “They went with Woodward because of the Woodward brand and what we bring to the table."
Irl Martin develops the Woodward Constitution to enshrine the Corporate Partnership and ensure his successors defend it. The membership votes to accept the Constitution on October 1.
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.
A Super FMU control from 1997.
Woodward goes digital with fuel controls
Even though it pursued some early digital controls, including the system that controlled the Harpoon missile in the early 1970s, Woodward engineers steered away from using computers in its products for decades. Former CEO Cal Covert was adamant that computers could not be trusted to control an engine.
However, by the 1990s, Silicon Valley had made huge advances in technology, and customers demanded that the market evolve. Woodward developed its fuel-measuring unit platform, known as Super FMUs, using knowledge of material wear-out rates gleaned from its successful CAN controls, which monitor turbine engine speed.
The Super FMU gave Woodward a competitive advantage, even though Woodward was one of the last manufacturers to develop a digital control product. With the invention of the FMU and computer-controlled turbine engine, Woodward was able to evolve from a speed control company into a systems provider.
When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down on November 9, 1989, countless Eastern Bloc companies and their customers knew that their business dealings would never be the same again. The event, which led to the reunification of Germany, signaled a reduction of trade barriers and an opening of borders within Europe. Everyone believed that businesses on both sides of the Iron Curtain would now benefit as the West and the East became one.
However, things weren’t as rosy as they seemed, especially for companies that had been part of East Germany. They had new competition for customers from companies in the West and were challenged by the demands of adapting to a capitalist economy.
One such company was fuel pump manufacturer Einspritzgeräetewerk Aken GmbH. The business, which was founded in 1946, had depended on trade within the Eastern Bloc. Some of Aken's main customers before the unification included heavy equipment manufacturer VEB Schwermaschinenbau “Karl Liebknecht” Magdeburg.
Business dried up. “The inventories of our customers here were full,” said Dagmar Neuhaeuser, Aken’s senior human resources business partner. “That means that nobody was buying, the contracts were canceled and [advertising for new employees] was almost nonexistent, which led to a heavy decrease in personnel.”
From 1990 to 1994, Aken's employee base plummeted from 845 to 100, and revenue stagnated.
On the bright side, the new travel freedom after the fall of the Berlin Wall enabled Aken to make contact with companies it had never had access to before, including Klöckner Humboldt Deutz AG and Krupp-MaK Maschinenbau GmbH. This led to its first meeting with Woodward in Holland, which recognized that Aken might be a good strategic fit.
Woodward acquired Aken in November 1993, and it was renamed Woodward Governor Germany GmbH. The acquisition enabled Aken to supply injection systems in the international market for the first time. It also helped the company win major new customers in the mid-1990s, including KHD (now Deutz AG) and Krupp-MaK, as well as MWM Mannheim (which is a subsidiary of Caterpillar today). Later additions to the client list include Perkins Engine, Rolls Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, MAN Holeby, Jenbacher, Sulzer Winterthur and Daihatsu.
During this period of growth, Woodward helped Aken revamp its product portfolio and attract even more customers in the West, including Caterpillar. New product highlights included high-pressure injectors and high-pressure common rail pumps, which assist in environmental sustainability.
In addition, Aken embraced a renewed sense of corporate social responsibility. Its commitment to giving back to the community came to life in its contributions to the local fire department, the construction of a garden house at an area kindergarten, and its efforts to organize a rowing tournament.
Being part of an organization like Woodward created a sense of pride and hopefulness among members in Aken. "We were really proud that we were allowed to belong to an American company," Neuhaeuser said.
The result was a symbiotic partnership that blended German and American innovation, combined with a business model designed for changing times. This fresh approach put customers, and their world-changing potential, at the center of the equation.
Joint Venture in India
Woodward forms a joint venture to open a plant in India.
Woodward Governor Germany GmbH acquires Feingerätebau Kelbra, a firm that manufactures fuel injection nozzles for diesel engines in Kelbra, Germany.
Woodward acquires HSC Controls, a recognized leader in electromagnetic devices in Buffalo, New York.
The Forbidden City
Woodward opens an office in Beijing, China.
Train to Busan
Woodward establishes an office in Busan, South Korea.
The Road Map from Individual Controls to Entire Systems
The early 1990s brought seminal change to Woodward’s business planning. The company had hired its first marketing chief, 29-year-old Tom Gendron, who set out to discover which products that were under development looked the most promising. He met with Woodward’s customers, talked to competitors, visited research labs and attended industry conferences. Those meetings convinced him that the future lay in creating entire fuel systems instead of individual controls. So he wrote a blueprint illustrating how and why the company could create whole-system solutions. That road map, which channeled investment to engineering, facilities, testing, manufacturing and supply chain, helped put Woodward back on a trajectory grounded in innovation.
L’Orange introduces the world's first electronic common-rail injection system for large diesel engines.
Fuel Systems Textron
Woodward acquires Fuel Systems Textron (FST) of Zeeland, Michigan, a company that produces fuel system products for gas turbine 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 purchased MPC Products Corp., a manufacturer of high-performance electrical systems for military aerospace applications, in October 2008.
Looking Ahead: Accommodating Ethical Growth
In the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008-2009, Woodward demonstrated long-term planning and commitment to ethical growth as it acquired two competitors. The purchase of MPC Products Corp. of Skokie, Illinois, in 2008 brought electromechanical expertise to Woodward. The family-run defense contractor was integrated into a wholly owned subsidiary known as Woodward MPC.
The purchase of HR Textron, a union shop in Santa Clarita, California, brought hydraulic research capabilities and a new pay structure, in which the company honored that unit’s union contract but continued to offer profit-sharing for members throughout the rest of the company.
As Woodward expands, it brings the Woodward Way to new acquisitions and different parts of the globe, with up-to-date factories, ethical business practices and a dedication to its members as part of One Woodward.
Rock Cut Campus in Loves Park, Illinois, is a 450,000-square-foot, L-shaped factory of the future.
Envisioning a Factory for the Future
Between 2009 and 2012, Woodward won contracts to supply aircraft turbine controls for the two most popular engines for longer range narrow-body aircraft, including the Airbus 320neo. Although Woodward has always invested in state-of-the-art facilities, this production challenge meant Woodward needed to create an entirely new factory that would enable it to achieve 100% on-time delivery for every product.
Teams visited more than 60 manufacturing sites to gather ideas for the new facility, the Rock-Cut Campus in Loves Park, Illinois. They set visionary goals and created an innovative system where parts continuously flow off the production line—a significant departure from how the existing plants operated. In other Woodward facilities, some parts needed to be sent out for special processing, which meant boxing, shipping and cataloging them upon departure and return. At Rock Cut Campus, all processes take place in-house and all machinery is movable. A broken machine can be replaced within hours.
The 2010 annual report was the first to identify the company as Woodward Inc.
A name for the future
For its first 140 years, Woodward was known as the Woodward Governor Company, highlighting the first product that founder Amos Woodward developed. But as the company transformed into a premier provider of control systems for the aerospace and industrial markets, its leaders worried that the name was falling out of date. They proposed dropping the words “Governor Company,” with the belief that the name “Woodward Inc.” could project the company’s commitment to cutting-edge technology and continual advancement.
Shareholders agreed and voted in 2010 to accept the new name and ticker symbol, changing from WGOV to WWD. Occasionally, a client may ask, “What happened to the governor?” But the name Woodward has become prominent enough that it is easily recognized as synonymous with energy control solutions.
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.
Woodward purchases GE Aviation Systems’ thrust reverser actuation systems business in Duarte, California.
Woodward publishes its first annual sustainability report.
Tom Gendron creates a committee to study efficiency issues at Woodward. The committee's recommendations become True North.
First common-rail fuel injector for large diesel engines.
Woodward Plus L’Orange Equals Engine Control Systems Powerhouse
In 2018, Woodward purchased L’Orange GmbH, a premier supplier of fuel injection systems for industrial engines. Before the acquisition, L’Orange was limited by its association with an individual engine manufacturer, previous owner Rolls Royce. Today, Woodward L’Orange faces a world of opportunities. Like Woodward, L’Orange draws from a legacy of innovation. In the mid-1990s, L’Orange engineers developed the first common-rail fuel injector for large diesel engines, which propelled sales and transformed the company.
Initially, L’Orange employees were apprehensive about the merger, but Woodward President and CEO Tom Gendron set the tone for inclusion with an all-hands meeting on L’Orange’s first day with Woodward. The company retained all key staff and made important investments in the main L’Orange factory in Glatten, Germany, demonstrating that L’Orange was a valued asset with a promising future.
Woodward is the exclusive fuel injection supplier for Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine, a key component in Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II fighter.
Woodward opens a new facility in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
Woodward commemorates its 150th anniversary in 2020.