At Brunswick, we believe our strengths are many, and we intend to vigorously use them. The continuing challenge is to uncompromisingly execute that strategy and build upon the six competitive operating platforms that have served us so well in both solid or uncertain economic times. These platforms are to: Steadily and relentlessly reduce costs, the ultimate competitive weapon, to improve our operations and performance; Identify and deploy leading-edge technologies to distinguish our products from those of our competition and to increase our operating efficiencies; Market and build our brands with care and thoughtfulness, nurturing and bolstering our already strong positions in the marketplace; Improve every aspect of our distribution channels to better develop mutually beneficial partnerships with our dealers and distributors to enrich the entire consumer experience; Enhance our customer responsiveness by listening to the voice of the customer and touching that customer, before, during and after the sale; Develop and stretch our people so that they can fully contribute their talents and creativity to strengthen our organization. Most any company can invest in machinery, marketing and technical tools. We believe our advantage is in the people we hire and how we lead, inspire, develop and motivate them.
1845: John Moses Brunswick opens a carriage shop in Cincinnati, soon expanding into the production of billiards tables.
1873: J. M. Brunswick & Brothers merges with Julius Balke's Great Western Billiard Manufactory to form J. M. Brunswick & Balke Company.
1884: Company merges with H. M. Collender's company to form Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, the world's largest maker of billiards equipment.
1907: Brunswick-Balke-Collender is incorporated.
1924: Company goes public.
1956: Brunswick begins production of automatic pinsetters for bowling alleys.
1960: Company enters the boating market and changes its name to Brunswick Corporation.
1961: Brunswick acquires Kiekhaefer Corporation, maker of Mercury outboard motors.
1965: In the wake of a crash of the bowling industry, Brunswick begins acquiring bowling centers.
1982: After fending off a hostile takeover bid by the Whittaker Corporation, Brunswick divests its medical-supply business.
1986: Company acquires the pleasure-boat manufacturers Bayliner Marine Corp. and Ray Industries, maker of Sea Ray boats.
1997: Exercise equipment maker Life Fitness is acquired.
2000: Company launches program to divest its outdoor brands and narrow focus to marine engines, pleasure boats, and bowling, billiards, and fitness equipment.
2001: Hatteras Yachts, Inc. is acquired.
2002: Company expands into marine electronics by acquiring Northstar Technologies, Inc.
2004: Brunswick acquires the Crestliner, Lowe, and Lund aluminum-boat brands; the Verado engine is introduced.
Incorporated: 1907 as Brunswick-Balke-Collender CompanyNAIC: 333618 Other Engine Equipment Manufacturing; 336612 Boat Building; 339920 Sporting and Athletic Goods Manufacturing; 713950 Bowling CentersSIC: 3519 Internal Combustion Engines Nec; 3732 Boat Building & Repairing; 3949 Sporting & Athletic Goods Nec; 7933 Bowling Centers
Brunswick Corporation, the oldest and largest manufacturer of recreation and leisure-time products in the United States, has used its commercial successes in billiard and bowling products to become the world's leading manufacturer of marine engines and pleasure boats. Brunswick began as a family firm, merged to become the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company in 1884, and was renamed the Brunswick Corporation in 1960. During the 1980s the company, which once described itself as the "General Motors of Sports," moved to dominate the marine and powerboat industry, while in the 1990s Brunswick expanded its recreational offerings to include bicycles, wagons, sleds, camping equipment, ice chests, and exercise equipment. In the early 2000s, however, the company divested most of its nonmarine recreational operations, and completed a string of boating-related acquisitions, to fulfill then CEO George W. Buckley's vision of making Brunswick the "Toyota of Boating"; by 2005 nearly 83 percent of revenues was generated by the firm's marine engine and boating businesses, while fitness equipment contributed about 9 percent and bowling and billiards just 8 percent. Its stable of industry leading brands includes Mercury and Mariner engines; Sea Ray, Sea Pro, Sea Boss, Bayliner, Boston Whaler, Crestliner, and Hatteras boats; Life Fitness, Hammer Strength, and ParaBody fitness equipment; Brunswick bowling and billiards equipment; and Valley-Dynamo pool, air hockey, and foosball tables. The company also operates around 130 Brunswick bowling centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. About 32 percent of company revenues are derived outside the United States.
John Moses Brunswick was born in 1819 in Bremgarten, Switzerland. At 14, Brunswick immigrated to the United States. He landed in New York City and worked briefly as an errand boy for a German butcher but soon relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he served a four-year apprenticeship in a carriage shop. In 1839 he moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a journeyman carriage maker, and married Louisa Greiner. The Brunswicks moved to Cincinnati in 1840.
Brunswick found work as a carriage maker for several local firms until 1841, when a major economic downturn severely depressed the market for carriages. During the depression he worked as a steward on an Ohio River steamboat, then as a commercial trader. Though he prospered financially he became ill, and after spending several months in bed Brunswick used his accumulated commercial profits to open his own carriage shop in 1845.
Brunswick's Cincinnati, Ohio, woodworking shop began by making functional, high-quality carriages. Brunswick was willing to expand his product line and the shop soon began to produce cabinetwork, tables, and chairs. Brunswick boasted that "if it is wood, we can make it, and we can make it better than anyone else."
Brunswick's willingness to diversify was more than a manifestation of the pride that he took in his work; it was also an early attempt to broaden his product line to counteract fluctuations in the business cycle. For many years Brunswick's growth was internal, but in later years the firm acquired outside businesses to expand its product line.
Began Manufacturing Billiard Tables in the 1840s
By the mid-1840s the economy had begun to recover and with it came increased manufacturing activity. In this environment Brunswick began to prosper, and he became active in local political, religious, and social circles. Legend has it that in 1845, at a lavish dinner party, John Brunswick was led into another room where his host proudly displayed a fancy billiard table, which had been imported from England. Brunswick saw the opportunity to expand his woodworking business. Thus began Brunswick's long association and ultimate domination of the sporting goods market.
Billiards long had suffered from a poor reputation. Indeed, sports in general had very limited mass appeal in the United States prior to the 1850s. Sporting equipment was ornate and was designed for sale to men of wealth. Brunswick's first tables were elaborate luxury items, and as such found a limited market.
In 1848 Brunswick expanded his market by sending his half-brothers, David and Emanuel Brunswick, to Chicago to establish a sales office and factory. Other sales offices were opened in New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Louis, Missouri, while half-brothers Joseph and Hyman Brunswick worked in the firm's Cincinnati offices. In 1858 the business was reorganized as J. M. Brunswick & Brother. In 1866 the company was renamed J. M. Brunswick & Brothers when Emanuel Brunswick joined Joseph and John Brunswick as a principal in the firm.
Creation of Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company in 1884
By the late 1860s the U.S. billiards market was dominated by three firms: Brunswick, Julius Balke's Cincinnati-based Great Western Billiard Manufactory, and a New York-based company named Phelan & Collender, run by Michael Phelan and his son-in-law, H. M. Collender. In 1873 Brunswick merged with Balke to form the J. M. Brunswick & Balke Company. In 1884, following the death of his father-in-law in 1879, Collender merged with Brunswick & Balke, to form the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, the largest billiards equipment maker in the world.
During the 1870s Brunswick's half-brothers left the firm to start rival firms and billiard parlors in Chicago and San Francisco. It is not entirely clear under what circumstances each of them left, but by 1872 Brunswick's son-in-law, Moses Bensinger, and two longtime employees were vice-presidents at Brunswick.
During this period of rapid growth John Brunswick remained in Cincinnati while Bensinger, who increasingly directed the company's day-to-day operations, greatly expanded the company's Chicago facilities. In July 1886 John Brunswick died. He was succeeded by H. M. Collender, who served as president until his own death in 1890. Julius Balke, too ill and old to take over as president, stepped aside, and, after buying out another vice-president, Bensinger was named president of Brunswick-Balke-Collender.
Bensinger aggressively expanded the firm's product line. Since many billiard tables were being sold to taverns, he expanded the company's line of carved wooden back bars. Back bars covered the wall behind a bar and served a functional and decorative purpose. They were intricate and elaborate status symbols and also greatly enhanced Brunswick's reputation for fine craftsmanship. Initially the bars were custom built, but their popularity soon had the company's Dubuque, Iowa, factory operating at full capacity. Before long Brunswick bars were installed across the United States and Canada.
Addition of Bowling Pins and Balls: 1880s
In the 1880s Bensinger added another product line, bowling pins and bowling balls. Taverns had begun installing lanes, interest seemed to be growing, and Bensinger was determined to be ready for this new market. He actively promoted bowling as a participatory sport and helped to standardize the game. Bensinger also was instrumental in organizing the American Bowling Congress in 1895. Although the company continued to expand its markets and product lines, bowling was to become the financial backbone of the firm.
Throughout this growth and expansion, Brunswick remained a family firm. John Brunswick's surviving son, Benedict Brunswick, and Julius Balke, Jr., were Brunswick executives, and Bensinger's son, Benjamin Bensinger, worked first as a clerk, then as a salesman, and was rapidly moving his way up in the company. In 1904, upon the death of his father, Benjamin Bensinger became the president of Brunswick-Balke-Collender, at age 36. The firm had several sales offices, and manufacturing plants in Chicago, Cincinnati, Dubuque, and New York, and in 1906 Bensinger opened a large manufacturing plant in Muskegon, Michigan. The Muskegon plant, which grew to over one million square feet in the 1940s, became the cornerstone of the firm's manufacturing, producing such products as mineralite (hard rubber) bowling balls. In the meantime, Brunswick-Balke-Collender was incorporated in 1907.
Diversification During Prohibition Era: 1920-33
In the 1910s the temperance movement threatened not only the fixtures and bar business but also billiards and bowling. In 1912, in anticipation of Prohibition, which started in 1920, Brunswick suspended its bar-fixtures operations, which accounted for one-fourth of annual sales, and sought to replace it with automobile tires and the world's first hard-rubber toilet seats. Rubber products best utilized the firm's existing facilities. By 1921 the Muskegon plant was producing 2,000 tires a day. When the price of rubber tripled in 1922, Brunswick sold its tire line to B.F. Goodrich, who began to manufacture tires under the Brunswick name as the Brunswick Tire Company.
Brunswick also began to manufacture wood piano cases and phonograph cabinets. Edison Phonograph was the principal buyer of Brunswick's cabinets. The demand for phonographs was so strong that Bensinger decided that Brunswick should manufacture its own line of phonographs. By 1916 the Muskegon plant was producing Brunswick phonographs and putting them on the market for $150, 40 percent less than comparable models. In 1922 it also began producing records under its own label. Jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Benny Goodman and classical artists such as Irene Pavlovska and Leopold Godowsky all recorded on the Brunswick label. In 1925 Brunswick teamed up with General Electric Company to manufacture an all-electric phonograph called the Panatrope, which came equipped with or without a radio. In 1930 Brunswick sold the Brunswick Panatrope & Radio Corporation to Warner Brothers for $10 million.
The company had gone public in 1924, and in 1930 Benjamin Bensinger was named chairman of the board and his oldest son, Bob Bensinger, became president. Bob Bensinger had worked for the firm since 1919 and with his brother, Ted, guided Brunswick through the Great Depression. Even with the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 and the popularity of pool halls, the Great Depression was hard on Brunswick. The company marketed a line of tabletop refrigerators called the Blue Flash and a successful line of soda fountains to replace its once-thriving bar and fixture business.
During World War II Brunswick found new markets and new products and once again prospered. United Service Organizations (USO) centers and military bases eagerly purchased billiard and bowling equipment. Brunswick also made wartime products, including mortar shells, flares, assault boats, fuel cells, floating mines, aircraft instrument panels, and aluminum litters.
Postwar Era: Pinsetters and Outboard Motors
At the end of the war Brunswick became involved in a high-stakes battle with the American Machine and Foundry Company (AMF) over the automatic pinsetter for bowling alleys. AMF produced pinsetters in the late 1940s but these proved unreliable. In 1952 AMF installed an improved version of its machine and called it a pinspotter. Brunswick, which had toyed with the idea of an automatic pinsetter as early as 1911, had to develop a working pinsetter quickly or risk losing its domination of the bowling market. Telling customers that it would be "worth waiting for," Brunswick scrambled to develop its own machine. In 1954 Brunswick formed the Pinsetter Corporation with Murray Corporation of America. By the time the pinsetters were in production in 1956, Brunswick had bought out Murray, and Brunswick aggressively sold its machine to a rapidly expanding market.
Brunswick's policy of selling pinsetters on credit, suburban expansion, and an aggressive advertising campaign all combined to make bowling centers enormously popular in the late 1950s. After the introduction of the pinsetter the company prospered as never before. Sales, which had been $33 million in 1954, jumped to $422 million in 1961. Although Brunswick's earnings did not leap correspondingly--sales were up almost 13-fold, but earnings increased just less than six times--Ted Bensinger, named CEO in 1954, received most of the credit for Brunswick's gains. Brunswick acquired 18 new firms to further diversify its markets. Such companies as MacGregor Sports Products, Union Hardware, Zebco, Owens Yacht Company, and Larson Boats made Brunswick a major force in equipment for golf, roller skating, fishing, and boating (the move into boating began in 1960 with the purchases of Owens and Larson). Brunswick's most important purchase proved to be the 1961 acquisition of the Kiekhaefer Corporation, which built Mercury outboard motors.
Brunswick also sought firms outside recreational sports, and in 1959 it purchased A.S. Aloe and entered the medical-supply business. To complement the Aloe purchase Brunswick also acquired Sheridan Catheter & Instrument Corporation in 1960, Roehr Products Company in 1961, and Biological Research in 1961. Brunswick's medical-supply business became known as the Sherwood Medical Group. Brunswick also developed a popular line of school furniture in the 1950s and kept active in its defense-products division. The company, meanwhile, changed its name to Brunswick Corporation in 1960.
Further Diversification Moves in the 1960s and 1970s
An unexpected decline in the bowling industry, which represented 60 percent of sales, in the early 1960s presented Brunswick with serious financial problems. Jack Hanigan was brought in as president in November 1963 to handle Brunswick's financial problems. Ted Bensinger became chairman and he and his brother both remained on the board of directors into the 1970s. Hanigan aggressively sought to reorganize Brunswick and to position the firm for future expansion. In 1965 he formed a technical and new-business division which developed, among other things, Brunsmet, a metal-fiber product. In 1967 Hanigan merged this division and the defense division into the technical-products division. Hanigan also created a bowling center operations division, which began acquiring some of the nation's troubled bowling centers; the company thus began operating bowling centers in 1965 as part of an effort to recoup losses it was incurring when bowling center owners were unable to pay for Brunswick pinsetters bought on credit. The new divisions, along with further expansion of the company's medical lines, growth of the Kiekhaefer-Mercury products, and the recovery of bowling in the late 1960s, all helped Brunswick to reach record sales of $450 million in 1969.
The 1973-74 oil embargo caused problems at Brunswick, particularly in its profitable marine-engine division, but the company was able to further diversify its products and remained strong. The technical-products division continued to grow, producing, among other things, radomes and metal-fiber camouflage. Hanigan retired as chairman and CEO in 1976 and was replaced by K. Brooks Abernathy.
To promote stability Brunswick had been organized into four business groups: marine, medical, recreational, and technical. Jack Reichert, president of the Marine group, became president of Brunswick in 1977 as sales topped $1 billion for the first time. Not content, Brunswick moved into energy and transportation control systems by acquiring Vapor Corporation for $92 million in 1978, as well as actively expanding its international markets.
Focusing on Marine and Recreation Products in the 1980s and 1990s
Brunswick successfully fought a hostile takeover bid by the Whittaker Corporation in 1982. Whittaker wanted Brunswick's Sherwood Medical Group medical-supply business. Whittaker was forced to withdraw its offer when American Home Products Corporation stepped in as a white knight, and Sherwood was sold to American Home Products in March 1982 for $425 million in Brunswick stock. In April 1982 Reichert took over as CEO of Brunswick. Reichert sought to decentralize Brunswick to improve efficiency and stress quality output. The firm's 11 sectors were reduced to eight, corporate staff was cut, and executive perquisites were trimmed, reducing bureaucratic costs. Reichert transferred division staff to production sites in an attempt to enhance product quality. He also moved to include hourly employees as shareholders and increased pension payments to former employees.
During the latter half of the 1980s, Brunswick made a series of significant moves aimed at not only reasserting itself in the field of recreation but also making recreation the company's main focus. In 1986 Brunswick acquired two pleasure-boat manufacturers, Bayliner Marine Corporation and Ray Industries (maker of Sea Ray boats), for $773 million. These purchases, along with the acquisitions of MonArk Boat Company, Marine Group, Inc., Fisher Marine, and Starcraft Power Boats in 1988, made Brunswick the world's largest manufacturer of pleasure boats and marine engines. These companies also made Brunswick vulnerable to fluctuations in marine sales.
Brunswick had enjoyed six consecutive years of record earnings from 1982 through 1988. That string of record years ended in 1989, when restructuring charges arising from a downturn in the marine market resulted in a net loss. In 1989 and 1990 Brunswick disposed of the business units that had theretofore comprised its technical and industrial products divisions, leaving it with only its marine and recreation groups and a much smaller technical group of businesses.
Although the company returned to profitability in 1990, the economic downturn of the early 1990s severely depressed sales of pleasure boats and outboard motors, leading to net losses in 1991 and 1992 and net earnings of only $23.1 million in 1993. While weathering these rough seas, Brunswick put major acquisitions on hold and determined to concentrate solely on its marine and recreation segments. In February 1993 the company announced that it would divest its technical group. The sale to the newly formed Technical Products Group, Inc. was not culminated until April 1995, having been delayed by U.S. government investigations of its defense businesses. Also divested in 1995 was the company's Circus World Pizza operation, while 1996 saw the closure of a noncompetitive golf shaft business. Meanwhile, in April 1993 Brunswick moved into its new world headquarters building in Lake Forest, Illinois.
With Reichert planning to retire in 1995, Brunswick brought in John P. Reilly, formerly with Tenneco Inc., as president and heir apparent in the fall of 1994. He was forced out after only nine months, however, following reported conflicts among top executives. Subsequently, Reichert was succeeded in mid-1995 by Peter N. Larson, a former Johnson & Johnson executive.
In order to guard against future economic downturns, downturns that always hit the pleasure boat market particularly hard, Brunswick in the mid-1990s concentrated on expanding its recreational offerings to a wider variety of consumable goods, which tend to counterbalance such durable goods as boats. In anticipation of this expansion, Brunswick in the fall of 1995 created an Indoor Recreation Group to encompass the bowling and billiards operations, while an Outdoor Recreation Group featured the Zebco fishing equipment business. In early 1996 the company acquired Nelson/Weather-Rite, a unit of Roadmaster Industries Inc. that made camping equipment, for $120 million. Brunswick renamed this unit American Camper; it held the number two position in the U.S. market and offered sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, and other products under the American Camper, Remington, and Weather-Rite brand names. American Camper became part of the Outdoor Recreation Group, as did Igloo Holdings Inc. after it was acquired in January 1997 for about $154 million in cash; Igloo was a market leader in ice chests, beverage coolers, and thermoelectric cooler/warmer products. Two months later, the Hoppe's line of hunting accessories was purchased from Penguin Industries, Inc.; Hoppe's, also added to Outdoor Recreation, was number one in gun cleaning and shooting accessories.
Brunswick next aimed to become a leader in the bicycle market. After spending $190 million in January 1997 to buy Roadmaster's bicycle division, which included the Flexible Flyer line of sleds and wagons, and the Roadmaster brand name, Brunswick in the spring of 1997 acquired Bell Sports Corp.'s Mongoose, a San Jose, California-based maker of higher-end mountain and BMX bikes, for $22 million. That same summer the company formed a Brunswick Bicycles division within the Outdoor Recreation Group to oversee the Roadmaster and Mongoose operations, and to launch a new brand that fall called Ride Hard aimed at the middle-tier of the market between the lower-end Roadmaster and higher-end Mongoose. The acquisition spree continued in July 1997 as Brunswick paid Mancuso & Co. $310 million for Life Fitness, maker of stationary bicycles, treadmills, stairclimbers, rowers, cross trainers, and strength training equipment for fitness centers worldwide. Two other fitness equipment makers were added later in 1997 and in 1998: Hammer Strength and ParaBody. After sales of $3.16 billion in 1996, Brunswick's sales for 1997 jumped 16 percent. Net earnings were down in 1997, however, but only because of a $98.5 million strategic charge for streamlining and consolidating various operations and for exiting from the manufacture of personal watercraft.
After various Asian markets were weakened by the economic crisis that hit the region starting in 1997, Brunswick launched a cost-cutting program in October 1998 involving the elimination of 750 jobs, or 3 percent of the workforce, and the divestment or closure of a plant in China making pinsetting equipment and 15 bowling centers in Asia, Brazil, and Europe. An additional 280 jobs were cut when an Illinois bicycle plant was closed and some of the operations shifted to Mexico; this move was prompted by an influx of less expensive bicycles from Asia. Around this same time, about two dozen boat builders won a $133 million antitrust verdict against Brunswick in a lawsuit that accused the company of engaging in various illegal practices in the sale of stern-drive and inboard engines. Brunswick appealed this verdict, but in the meantime additional lawsuits were soon filed against the company, which quickly faced potential damages approaching $1 billion. Eventually the company began settling the claims out of court, and in 1999 Brunswick recorded a charge of $116 million to cover the costs of the settlements. As a result, profits that year totaled just $37.9 million on revenues of $4.28 billion.
Early 2000s: Narrowing Focus to Marine, Bowling, Billiards, and Fitness
Early in 2000 Brunswick announced a restructuring of its troubled bicycle division, which continued to be buffeted by competition from lower-cost producers in China and Taiwan. The company elected to close its three bicycle manufacturing plants in Mexico and Illinois and begin buying bikes from sources in Asia. But this move was soon deemed a half-measure by the company board, which ousted Larson from the CEO slot in June 2000 to pave the way for a more fundamental overhaul. Named to succeed Larson was George W. Buckley, previously head of the Mercury Marine division. Buckley was charged with divesting the firm's entire portfolio of outdoor brands, including fishing, camping, bicycle, cooler, marine accessories, and hunting sports accessories. The aim was to narrow Brunswick's focus to marine engines and pleasure boats, and bowling, billiards, and fitness equipment. A pretax loss of nearly $410 million recorded in connection with these discontinued operations led to a net loss of $95.8 million for 2000.
The divestment program proceeded apace. In 2000 Brunswick's camping business was sold off, followed by the 2001 sales of the bicycle business to Pacific Cycle, Igloo to Westar Capital L.L.C., Zebco's North American unit to W.C. Bradley Company, and Hoppe's to Michaels of Oregon. This process was completed in early 2002 when Zebco's European business was sold to the operation's management. In the meantime, while contending with another cyclical downturn in the boating business, Buckley launched an acquisition spree aimed at filling in gaps in its lineup of boats and making an aggressive push into boat parts and accessories. During 2001 Brunswick acquired Princecraft Boats Inc., maker of fishing, deck, and pontoon boats and Canada's leading boatbuilder; Sealine International, a British producer of luxury sport cruisers and motor yachts; and Hatteras Yachts, Inc., a leading manufacturer of luxury sportfishing convertibles and motor yachts. In 2002 Brunswick expanded into marine electronics by acquiring Northstar Technologies, Inc., a world leader in premium marine navigation electronics, including global positioning systems (GPS); Northstar was the basis for the newly formed Brunswick New Technologies division. This deal was followed up by the 2003 purchase of a 70 percent stake in Navman NV Limited, a maker of marine navigation and GPS-based products headquartered in New Zealand. Brunswick purchased the remaining shares in Navman in 2004. Also in 2003, the company began building a significant business in boat parts and accessories by purchasing Land 'N' Sea Corporation and Attwood Corporation. In the meantime, Brunswick in 2002 successfully launched the Bayliner 175, which at a package price under $10,000 was the least expensive Bayliner offered in several years.
Building on its longstanding expertise in billiards, Brunswick in 2003 also acquired Valley-Dynamo, LP, a maker of not only pool tables but also air hockey and foosball tables. Brunswick, already the leader in the commercial and home billiards market, now added the leader in coin-operated tables. As the boating market began to recover in 2003, Brunswick enjoyed its best year since 1998, posting profits of $135.2 million on sales of $4.13 billion. In April 2004 the company filled in another gap in its boating line by acquiring three aluminum-boat businesses from Genmar Holdings, Inc. for $191 million. The three brands--Crestliner, Lowe, and Lund--produced fishing, pontoon, deck, and utility boats ranging from 10 feet to 25 feet. They generated combined sales of $311 million for the year ending in June 2003. Then in December 2004 Brunswick edged into the saltwater fishing boat sector by spending $50.1 million for Sea Pro Boats, Inc. and Sea Boss Boats, LLC, makers of the Sea Pro, Palmetto, and Sea Boss brands. By plugging the various holes in his marine portfolio, Buckley was seeking to bolster the position of his company's dealers, who could offer their customers an increasingly wide-ranging selection of boats and engines. Among numerous new products launched in 2004, the most significant was the Verado engine, a four-stroke model, and the first turbocharged outboard, and one that was quieter than the competition, more fuel efficient, and less polluting. Critically acclaimed (Boating Life magazine called it the biggest advance in outboard motors in 30 years) the Verado generated high, sustained demand in the months after its introduction. Brunswick's engine division's sales jumped from $1.91 billion in 2003 to $2.64 billion in 2005. Brunswick also sought to bolster its international sales in 2004 by forming an umbrella organization, Brunswick European Group, for its marine operations in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
The acquisitions spree continued in 2005. In March the firm acquired Albemarle Boats, a maker of offshore sportfishing boats of 24 to 41 feet in length based in Edenton, North Carolina. Albemarle fit in well alongside Hatteras, which produced boats 50 feet and longer in length. In May 2005 Brunswick purchased Triton Boat Company, L.P., a leading maker of fiberglass bass and saltwater and aluminum fishing boats based in Ashland City, Tennessee. Kellogg Marine, a leading distributor of marine parts and accessories in the Northeast, was acquired in July.
By this time Brunswick was the clear world leader in pleasure boats, had built the nation's largest boating parts-distribution network, and had become the dominant player in marine electronics through Brunswick New Technologies. The latter was the company's fastest-growing business; its 2005 revenues of $356 million represented a 76 percent jump over the previous year. Overall revenues for 2005 reached a record $5.92 billion, a 13 percent increase over 2004, while profits surged 43 percent, to a record $385.4 million. Buckley's vision of turning Brunswick into the "Toyota of Boating," giving its dealers the opportunity to sell fully equipped, reliable boats and to offer a full range of Brunswick craft, seemed close to being realized. The company was increasingly shipping boats to its dealers with Brunswick-built instruments and gauges already installed, and it was encouraging the dealers to equip the boats with Mercury motors rather than those of its competitors, an endeavor made easier by the hot-selling Verado engine line. Given his success at so boldly turning the company's fortunes around, it was no surprise that Buckley would become a candidate to run an even larger enterprise, and in December 2005 he left the firm to become chairman, CEO, and president of 3M Company. Dustan E. McCoy was immediately selected to succeed Buckley as chairman and CEO, having served as president of the Brunswick Boat Group since its founding in 2000. McCoy planned to lead Brunswick in the same direction, improving the company's product reliability and distribution network and continuing to seek acquisitions to fill in gaps in the product portfolio. Going forward, the 160-year-old company ironically now seemed even more vulnerable to a downturn in the boating industry as its boating operations generated close to 83 percent of overall revenues.
Brunswick International Limited; Sea Ray Boats, Inc.
Genmar Holdings, Inc.; Ferretti Group; Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.; Marine Products Corporation; Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.; AMF Bowling Worldwide, Inc.
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Slutsker, Gary, "Toes in the Water," Forbes, March 15, 1993, pp. 70, 72.
Tatge, Mark, "Brunswick Says It Will Take Charge of $185 Million," Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2000, p. B10.
Tita, Bob, "Aiming to Be 'Toyota of Boating,'" Crain's Chicago Business, May 16, 2005, p. 16.
Walzer, Emily, "Brunswick to Divest Outdoor Brands," Sporting Goods Business, August 4, 2000, p. 20.
Weinschenk, Carl, "Brunswick Changes the Landscape," Boating Industry, January 1987, p. 13.
— Timothy E. Sullivan; Updated by David E. Salamie
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The Brunswick Corporation NYSE: BC, formerly known as the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, is a United States-based corporation that has been involved in manufacturing a wide variety of products since 1845. It had 2006 sales of US$5.665 billion with net earnings of $133.9 million..
Brunswick was founded by John Moses Brunswick (1819–1886), born in Bremgarten, Switzerland who came to the United States at the age of 15. The J.M. Brunswick Manufacturing Company opened for business on 15 September, 1845 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Originally J.M. Brunswick intended his company to be mainly in the business of making carriages, but soon after opening his machine shop he became fascinated with billiards, and decided that making billiard tables would be more lucrative, as the better tables then in use in America were imported from England. Brunswick billiard tables were a commercial success, and the business expanded and opened up the first of what would become many branch offices in Chicago, Illinois in 1848.
In 1873, the Brunswick company merged with competitor Great Western Billiard Manufactory owned by Julius Balke to become the Brunswick & Balke Company, incorporated with a capital stock of 275,000 U.S. dollars. In 1884, another competitor, H.W. Collender Company of New York, was absorbed to form the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, that year with a capital of $1.5 million.
The company expanded into making a number of other products. Large ornate neo-classical style bars for saloons were a popular product. Bowling balls, pins, and equipment led a growing line of sporting equipment. It popularized bowling balls of manufactured materials, vulcanized rubber at first; earlier bowling balls had been solid wood.
In the early 20th century, Brunswick expanded the product line to include such diverse products as toilet seats, automobile tires, and phonographs. In the late 1910s, they introduced a quickly popular line of disc phonograph records; see: Brunswick Records. In the 1930s, Brunswick sold the control of the record company to Warner Brothers and came out with a line of refrigerators.
During World War II, Brunswick-Balke-Collender made small target-drone aircraft for the U.S. military.
After the war Brunswick introduced a line of school furniture. In the 1950s, the Brunswick Mechanical Pinsetter automated resetting bowling alley pins. The decade also saw the introduction of a line of golfing equipment.
The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company officially changed its name to the Brunswick Corporation on April 10, 1960. The following year the company reported sales of 422 million dollars.
In the 1980s, Brunswick became a major maker of yachts and pleasure boats, whose brands include Bayliner, Boston Whaler, Maxum, Sea Ray, and Trophy.
During the Gulf War Brunswick supplied the military with camouflage nets. They also made radomes for the Patriot missile.
As of the early 21st century, the Brunswick Corporation still manufactures sporting and fitness equipment (Life Fitness, Hammer Strength, Parabody), in addition to boats (Sea Ray, Bayliner, Maxum, etc), marine engines under the Mercury Marine brand name. In 2004 Brunswick purchased Northstar Technologies, a leading marine electronics provider based in Acton Massachusetts, from Canadian Marconi Corporation. Brunswick then merged Navman, based in Auckland New Zealand, with Northstar. The idea was to make Northstar/Navman supplier to the Brunswick Boat Groups. Eventually Mx-Marine also became owned by Brunswick. When George Buckley, CEO of Brunswick, left to join 3M in 2006 the new leadership decided to sell Northstar/Navman/Mx-Marine. Navico now owns Northstar, Navman, and Mx-Marine in addition to the Eagle, Lowrance, B&G, and Simrad brands.
On Nov. 9, 2006, the company announced it was closing two plants and downsizing the workforce by 650 employees because of slow demand for new boats. Numerous other layoffs happened prior to this in the Brunswick New Technologies Division.
Today Brunswick has its headquarters situated in the Northern Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, IL.