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GKN

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

GKN
Parts Manufacturer

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Official Site: GKN.com
Wikipedia: GKN

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Headquarters: Redditch, Worcestershire, England, UK

A parts manufacturer that traces its origins to the founding of Dowlais Ironworks in 1759. In 1900, at the dawn of the automobile age, Dowlais Iron Company and Arthur Keen's Patent Nut and Bolt Company merged to form Guest, Keen & Co. Ltd. In 1902 the company acquired Nettlefolds Limited and became Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds (GKN).

The company entered the automotive field with the purchase of Birfield Ltd. in 1966.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's GKN page on 4 October 2017, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

GKN plc is a British multinational automotive and aerospace components company headquartered in Redditch, Worcestershire. The company was formerly known as Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds and can trace its origins back to 1759 and the birth of the Industrial Revolution.

Beginning a programme of diversification into the automotive field in 1966 GKN bought BRD's much larger competitor, Birfield Ltd, which held the great bulk of the British market for CVJs, constant velocity joints, and was a company that since 1938 had incorporated both the Sheffield based Laycock Engineering later best known as a postwar overdrive manufacturer, and Hardy Spicer Limited of Birmingham, England, also a manufacturer of constant-velocity joints. Historically, such joints had few applications, even following the improved design proposed by Alfred H. Rzeppa in 1936. However, in 1959, Alec Issigonis had developed the revolutionary Mini motor car that relied on the Hardy Spicer joints for its front wheel drive technology. The massive expansion in the exploitation of front wheel drive in the 1970s and 1980s led to the acquisition of other similar businesses and a 43% share of the world market by 2002.

On the death of founder Tony Vandervell in 1967, GKN acquired the lucrative Maidenhead-based Vandervell bearing manufacturer that was at the time already exporting more than 50% of its output to overseas vehicle manufacturers. This was part of a larger trend for GKN that during this period, under its Managing Director Raymond Brookes, was working to reduce its dependence on UK auto-maker customers at a time when the domestic industry was seen to be stumbling, in response to bewildering "Government interference and fiscal short-sightedness", with British new car registrations in the first four months of 1969 a massive 33% down on the corresponding period of the previous year.

As a result of the large number of mergers, Abram Games was commissioned to develop a new corporate identity in 1969 when the distinctive angular GKN symbol was created and the new company colours of blue and white introduced. In 1974, GKN acquired Kirkstall Forge Engineering, a manufacturer of truck axles in Leeds.

Having disposed of its steel production asset, in 1986 the company renamed itself GKN, focused then solely on military vehicles, aerospace and industrial services. In 1994 it acquired the helicopter manufacturing business of Westland Aircraft. In 1998 the armoured vehicle business was sold to Alvis plc, and subsequently incorporated into Alvis Vickers Ltd. In July 2000 Finmeccanica and GKN agreed to merge their respective helicopter subsidiaries to form AgustaWestland. In 2004 GKN completed the sale of its 50% shareholding in AgustaWestland to Finmeccanica.

In November 1995 associate Dana Corporation bought GKN's axle group. At that time GKN held 34 per cent of the world market for constant velocity joints. At the same time GKN took larger shares of its other driveline joint ventures with Dana in Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. From the late 1990s, the company built a major global business in powder metallurgy, which operates as the GKN Powdered Metallurgy group.

In 2002 GKN acquired a significant stake in - and by 2004 took over the whole concern of - the Japanese manufacturer of differentials and driveline torque systems Tochigi Fuji Sangyo K.K, based in Tochigi-shi, prefecture Tochigi. GKN went on to acquire Monitor Aerospace Corp in Amityville, New York and Precision Machining in Wellington, Kansas in 2006, part of the Airbus plant at Filton near Bristol for £150 million in 2008 and all of Getrag's axle business and axle manufacturing facilities in 2011.


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
27 March 2002GKN ACQUIRES STAKE IN TOCHIGI FUJI SANGYO (TFS) OF JAPANGKN Automotive Driveline Division
23 November 2002GKN AUTOMOTIVE DRIVELINE WINS 2002 QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE AWARDGKN Automotive GmbH
12 September 2003A FRESH NEW LOOK FOR GKN DRIVELINEGKN Driveline
1 January 2004Yoshikazu Kurihara Named President of GKN JapanGKN Driveline
14 January 2004GKN Driveline Unveils Fresh New Look at India's Auto ExpoGKN Driveline
9 February 2004GKN Earns 2003 Global Supplier Award from DaimlerChryslerGKN Driveline Americas
18 February 2004GKN Adopts New Name For its Global Automotive GroupGKN Driveline
26 March 2004Voeffray is New GKN Driveline Global Director-Ford SalesGKN Driveline North America Inc.
12 April 2004GKN Sinter Metals is GM 2003 Supplier of YearGKN Sinter Metals
28 April 2004Cabassol is New Manager at GKN DrivelineGKN Driveline Americas


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