PARKER HANNIFIN CORP., the global leader in motion and control technologies, was originally established as the Parker Appliance Co. by Arthur LaRue Parker on March 13, 1917. Before launching his company, Parker completed his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering at Case Institute of Technology. Located on Cleveland's near west side, Parker founded his company to market Parker's newly designed pneumatic brake system for trucks and buses. When a promotional trip ended with the company's entire inventory crashing down a mountainside in Pennsylvania, the young entrepreneur was forced to close the business. Working as an engineer at Cleveland's New York, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad, also known as NICKEL PLATE ROAD, Parker saved enough money to reopen his business in 1924. By then, his pneumatic fitting products were found to be ideal in the development of compact, lightweight hydraulic systems that reduced aircraft weight which, given the expanding aviation industry, kept the firm solvent for two decades. Art and Parker Appliance's reputation for producing reliable hydraulic connectors for the aviation industry became so well known that in the late 1920s, Charles Lindbergh called on Parker to develop a leak-free fuel system for his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, in order to complete the first ever transatlantic solo flight. In 1935, Parker Appliance purchased a 450,000 square foot building at 17325 EUCLID AVE to expand its manufacturing capabilities. As WORLD WAR II began, Parker Appliance grew from 910 employees in 1940 to approximately 2,600 in 1941, to support government orders. The company also established operations in Los Angeles to better support the rapidly expanding aircraft industry.
Following Arthur Parker's death in 1945, a sharp decline in government business brought the firm close to bankruptcy. Parker's widow, Helen, refused to liquidate and instead invested her husband's $1 million life insurance policy into the company and hired new management to rebuild the industrial business. Parker Appliance's recovery was attributed to its focus on new product development, entry into new markets, greater manufacturing efficiency, and the acquisition of key fluid power businesses. In 1951, Parker Appliance reached $12.2 million in sales. In 1957, the company acquired Hannifin Corporation of Illinois, a leading manufacturer of hydraulic and pneumatic power cylinders, valves and hydraulic presses. After the merger, the new company became known as Parker Hannifin Corporation. With a team of 4,400 employees, Parker Hannifin became a publically traded company on December 9, 1964, listing shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
Over the next three decades, Parker Hannifin acquired more than 100 companies to add to the firm's holdings while supporting the space program and entering the refrigeration and filtration markets. The diversity of its holdings allowed Parker Hannifin to mitigate the effects of the recession in the early 1980s, and in 1988, the company's seventieth anniversary, sales exceeded $2 billion.
Parker began to reorganize its operations in the early 1990's to focus on its core motion and control markets' aerospace and industrial. By 1993, Parker's 26,000 employees operated 143 manufacturing plants and 87 administrative and sales offices, company stores, and warehouses around the world. The company's global distribution network grew to the largest in the industry with over 5,000 distributors serving 285,000 customers. Parker achieved all-time sales and earnings records in fiscal year 1995 with $3.21 billion in sales and net income of $218.2 million or $2.96 per share. The company continued to support product lines for hydraulic, pneumatic and electromechanical applications.
In 1997, Parker moved into a newly-constructed global headquarters at 6035 Parkland Blvd. in MAYFIELD HEIGHTS and launched its first company website, www.parker.com. The company's "Win Strategy," was launched in 2001 by Chairman, CEO and President, Donald E. Washkewicz, to align Parker's global operations to common goals and metrics that improve organizational efficiency and profitability. Under the new strategy, the company navigated uncertain economic times, achieving many new records for growth and profitability.
Parker is the world's leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of mobile, industrial and aerospace markets. With annual sales surpassing $13 billion in fiscal year 2013, approximately 58,000 employees support operations in 49 countries around the world.
Piraino, Thomas A. Jr. Parker Hannifin's 100 Year Journey. 2017