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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

TRW, INC. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

TRW, INC., headquartered in Cleveland, is a major international corporation recognized for its leadership in the AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, AEROSPACE INDUSTRY, and electronics (see ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONICS INDUSTRIES) industries. The company was founded as the Cleveland Cap Screw Co. which was incorporated on 28 Dec. 1900 to produce connectors and fittings primarily for automobiles and light machinery. Its first technological innovation was the production of automobile valves in 1904. It soon became the recognized leader in the field and remains the world's largest independent producer of such valves. Although the WINTON MOTOR CAR CO. owned the company from 1905-15, its principal development began under CHAS. E. THOMPSON†, who reorganized the firm in 1908 as the Electric Welding Products Co., started to purchase chassis parts, and acquired plants in other cities. Thompson bought the firm from Winton in 1915 and changed its name to the Steel Products Co. When it was renamed Thompson Products, Inc., in 1926 it was a well-established manufacturer of finished automotive and aviation goods.

Thompson's development of an effective replacement-parts system during the 1920s allowed it to survive the Depression, and as a dramatic sales promotion, the company initiated the Thompson Trophy Race in 1929 (see NATIONAL AIR RACES). After Thompson's death in 1933, FREDERICK C. CRAWFORD† took over the firm. To quell unionizing efforts by the CIO through the Natl. Labor Relations Board in the 1930s and 1940s, Crawford fostered the organization of the Automobile & Aircraft Workers of America, a company union. In anticipation of World War II, Thompson Prods., with government funding, built the TAPCO plant in EUCLID in 1941 to increase its production of aircraft engines. Following the war, Thompson diversified further into the aerospace industry, manufacturing parts for jet engines and entered the fields of electronics and ballistic-missile development, principally through investing in the Ramo-Wooldridge Corp. of California in 1953. Five years later, the two companies merged into Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, which shortened its name to TRW in 1965. Although the firm played a prominent role in the U.S. space program, producing a third of the satellites, the decline in the aerospace industry in the early 1970s prompted TRW to enter new markets--bearings, fasteners, tools, oil-field equipment, and alternative energy sources. In the 1980s, however, TRW re-entered the space and defense industry supplying software for satellites and defense systems. In the 1990s the company further expanded its product line to include air bags, safety belts, suspension systems, engine valves and electronics for the automotive industry, as well as customer credit report services. In , 1995 TRW employed 1,800 Clevelanders and was ranked at 126 in the Fortune 500.

TRW Inc. was purchased by military contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation for $7.8 billion in stock in 2002. In 2001 TRW was the eighth largest military contractor in America; this made it appealing to Northrop who became the second largest defense contractor after the deal. Northrop, based in Los Angeles, closed TRW's LYNDHURST offices. TRW's Aeronautical Systems division was sold to Goodrich Corporation for $1.5 billion in 2002.

After the merger Northrop Grumman planned to separate TRW's automotive business; it became an independent automotive organization in 2003. As of 2010 TRW Automotive still had a presence at facilities in two Cleveland suburbs, VALLEY VIEW and WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, while the remainder of TRW was still part of Northrop Grumman?s Aerospace Systems and Information Systems divisions.

TRW, Inc. Records, WRHS.

Last Modified: 06 Jan 2010 12:10:47 AM

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