A Brief Esterline History
Growing into a focused aerospace and defense manufacturer
Esterline traces its roots to 1906 with the founding of the Central Laboratory and Supply Company. Later renamed the Esterline Angus Company, the organization grew as a producer of electromechanical and electronic technology, specializing in process recording and control instrumentation. In the 1960s, the company began on its path of growing through mergers and acquisitions. Within 30 years, Esterline had become a diverse conglomerate with an array of holdings in aerospace, defense, telecommunications, automotive, agriculture, utilities, and truck and rail. The company later refined its focus on aerospace and defense — and on enhancing efficiency — and divested many of its non-core holdings.
The company’s strategy of growing through acquisition continues to this day as Esterline seeks to expand its capabilities and become a more comprehensive supplier to its customers.
“Esterline” embodies a tradition of innovation
The name Esterline comes from John Esterline, an inventor and engineering professor at Purdue University in the early 1900s. In 1906, John Esterline founded the Central Laboratory and Supply Company (later renamed Esterline Angus), the first company in the United States to manufacture permanent magnets.
At the time Esterline founded his company, automobiles were relatively new on the scene and lacked many of the technological conveniences common in today’s cars. For example, to start their engines, early drivers had to turn a large crank by hand. Esterline simplified this process by developing a battery-powered electrical starter system. Although it was not the first electrical starter, Esterline’s design was simpler and more reliable than an earlier, more complex design. Esterline’s starter became widely accepted and led to an on-board electrical system becoming standard on most cars.
Esterline helped revolutionize the automobile again by developing a magnet that did not require tungsten. Tungsten had been a key ingredient in permanent magnets but was in short supply during World War I. Esterline’s new magnet prompted this quote from Henry Ford in 1918: “Mr. Esterline, you have saved the Ford Motor Company.”
For 60 years, Esterline’s company grew steadily. In 1967, Esterline Angus entered the first of many mergers and acquisitions that would follow. In 1989, after the purchase of six aerospace/defense subsidiaries of Criton Technologies, the company adopted its current name: Esterline Technologies Corporation.