Page 34 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - April 2019
P. 34

1979-2019 Celebrating Our
                         40th Year Serving the Industry,

                               Wire Rope News & Sling Technology
                                   asks long-time experts to share
                                   memories and comments on…

               Our Industry Over the Past 40 Years

                                         John “Jack” Barclay, retired CEO
                      Wire Rope Corporation of America (today WireCo WorldGroup)

               Editor’s note: Now in his late 80s,  And so, you had a group of major pro-  ducers  together  you  find  that  they
              Jack Barclay remembers further  ducers in the East such as US Steel,  make up the Wireco WorldGroup in
              back than 40 years ago. When his  Roebling and Bethlehem Steel…and  Sedalia, Missouri, where they have a
              dad (J. P. Barclay, Sr.) died in 1954,  in  the  central  part of  the  country,  very competitive plant.
              Jack followed in the family business.  Union Wire Rope, MacWhyte and   I think  Wireco  is  recognized  as
              Here he reminisces about the changes  Leschen…and  Pacific  Wire  Rope  probably the leader in the industry
              in the wire rope industry.      and E.H. Edwards Company on the  today, because they’re certainly the
                                              West Coast. One can conclude that  largest.
                he US domestic wire rope mar-  the interstate highway system was a   And in  conclusion  the industry
              Tket has been in decline  for de-  major contributing factor to the re-  has  gone  through  some  significant
              cades due to technological changes                             changes over the last 40 or 50 years,
              and applications,  while  being  sub-                          as  a  result  of  foreign  competition
              ject to tough competition from the                             and technologies such as hydraulics.
              Far East (South Korea, China).                                 So today you have just three survi-
               Here are two examples of techno-                              vors:  Bridon-Bekaert, Wire  Rope
              logical change: During World War                               Works (formerly Williamsport Wire
              II, wire rope manufacturers pro-                               Rope and Bethlehem Wirerope) and
              duced miles and miles of aircraft                              Wireco WorldGroup.
              cable. Today most of the aircraft ca-                            If I had it to do over, I probably
              ble has been replaced by hydraulics.                           would not have gone into manufac-
              In the construction industry, wire                             turing. But quite honestly, I don’t
              ropes that were  required for earth                            think it would be fair to complain
              moving equipment  such  as  back-                              simply because wire rope corpora-
              hoes and scrapers have also been                               tion showed great promise as a
              replaced by hydraulics.                                        business investment into the 60s,
               When Dwight Eisenhower was                                    70s  and  80s  and  was  profitable.
              elected, the US had no interstate                              And I might add on a personal ba-
              highway system. Eisenhower had                                 sis, there is a real romance to the
              travelled  across  the  country  as  a    Jack Barclay         industry. If you’ve never seen a
              young officer in a military truck con-                         huge vat of steel being poured from
              voy and reported that there was no  alignment of wire rope manufactur-  a hot ladle suspended from wire
              interstate highway system to support  ers to the markets they could serve.  ropes, if  you’ve never  been on  an
              rapid movement of military equip-  This realignment in turn resulted in  offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico,
              ment across the country. The road  several major acquisitions by wire  or been seated in the cab of a large
              system was unreliable, disconnected  rope manufacturers – namely, Pa-  shovel in Wyoming, then you prob-
              and limited. At best in most areas  cific  Wire  Rope  was  purchased  by  ably wouldn’t understand. There is
              there were just two lanes and often  MacWhyte, Leschen Wire Rope was  a romance.  n
              they were very narrow. Thus, wire  purchased  by  Wire Rope Corpora-
              rope markets were  really  restrict-  tion, and then the MacWhyte compa-  We’re highlighting statements from
                                                                                 leaders in the material handling
              ed because of a lack of appropriate  ny acquired Broderick and Bascom.   industry. If you know someone who’s
              transportation other than rail. Wire  Later the MacWhyte company sold   been involved for the last 40 years
              rope manufacturers were needed in  to Wire Rope Corporation. Union   that would like to contribute,
              each of these geographically-limited  Wire Rope had also been sold to   please contact us and we’ll include
                                                                                  them in an upcoming issue!
              and transportation-limited markets.  Wireco. And when you put these pro-

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