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is a global $7.3 billion diversified industrial manufacturer that is a leader in fluid power systems; electrical power quality, distribution and control; automotive engine air management and fuel economy; and intelligent truck systems for fuel economy and safety.Eaton
has 49,000 employees and sells products in more than 50 countries.
Producing the highest quality products at costs which make them economically practical in the most competitively priced markets. -- J.O. Eaton
We achieve our mission through our global commitment to: Customer Satisfaction Profitable Growth Total Quality Leadership
, whose father had an art studio in New York City, was born July 28, 1873 in Yonkers, New York.At birth, he
was named Harrison Eaton.His
father - named Joseph Oriel Eaton - was a talented portrait painter of the Hudson River School
, who painted many of the rich and famous, including Abraham Lincoln and Herman Melville.
During summers, the elder Eaton
would return to the family farm at Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he
died in 1875.After his
death, young Harrison's mother changed his
name to Joseph Oriel in memory of her
husband. J.O. Eaton
was raised by his
mother and grandmother in Cincinnati, where he
attended public schools.With the help of a scholarship, he
way through Williams College in Massachusetts
, where he
learned to enjoy tennis and other sports.He
briefly played professional baseball, and got a broken nose doing so.
One summer he
wrote a tennis column for the Cincinnati Enquirer for space rates.His
weekly earnings ranged from $5 to $10, and from that brief experience as an intellectual, he
determined that he
would make his
career as a businessman. He
first worked for an uncle in a Cincinnati bank
and later tried selling an unfashionable brand of cigarettes for another relative while in New York City.He
peddled the cigarettes up and down Broadway one day, without selling a single package, before returning to his
room quite discouraged.He
took out his
samples and began to smoke them, growing sicker with each puff.He
finally understood why he
couldn't sell them.He
threw them away, vowing never again to work for a relative. After graduating from Williams in 1895, and the brief job with American Express, he enlisted in the Army and served as a private in the 2nd New York Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War.
Released from duty, he
attention once again to business.He worked for George P. Ide and Co., shirt and collar manufacturers in Troy, New York, and became a department manager.
secretly cherished a desire to be in business for himself. In 1903 he moved to Bloomfield, New Jersey to become assistant general manager of the Empire Cream Separator Company.He
returned to Troy in 1904 to open his
own company, Interstate Shirt and Collar Company
, where, he
later admitted, he
Despite losing money, the return to Troy was auspicious.He
made the first of many successful acquisitions after he
began courting a young widow named Edith Ide French, the daughter of his
former employer, George Ide.He
and Edith were married in 1910. The following year he returned to Bloomfield and, with inventor Viggo V. Torbensen, formed the Torbensen Gear and Axle Company, predecessor of Eaton Corporation. J.O. Eaton
was not a mechanical genius in the mold of Edison or Ford
.In fact, he
never learned to drive a car.He
tried to drive one of the early electric models, rammed it into a wall and never drove again.But he
had learned how to run a business. Torbensen Gear
and Axle Company
moved to Cleveland in 1914, and Eaton
rapidly gained a reputation for financial and administrative ingenuity.When Republic Motor Trucks acquired Torbensen in 1917, Eaton was named first vice president for finance of Republic.
After leaving Republic
in 1919, he
became associated with industrialist Cyrus S. Eaton (no relation) at Otis and Company
, a firm of investment bankers headquartered in Cleveland, but with offices in many of the nation's larger cities.From 1921 to 1931, J.O. Eaton was a partner in Otis and Company and involved in many Cleveland business and financial deals.
Cyrus Eaton gained prominence as the founder of several Cleveland corporations, and he
attracted widespread public attention as a friend of Russia by promoting East-West trade at a time during the 50s and 60s when it was extremely unpopular to do so.Because of the public recognition of his name, people often assume that he founded Eaton Corporation.
In fact, Cyrus Eaton was never associated with the company in any way. J.O. Eaton
did not achieve nationwide name recognition, but was a highly respected figure in industrial circles.On September 11, 1920, Finance and Industry profiled him as follows: "His
profound capacity for quick and accurate analysis has given him a reputation for clear-headed thinking, and for coolness in the face of trying events.Business and social acquaintances testify to his
unusual ability for striking directly to the heart of a matter, brushing aside extraneous elements having no important bearing."
In the Depression, Otis and Company
suffered heavy financial losses and was reorganized.J.O. Eaton
and several of the other partners resigned, but still felt obligated personally to pay the debts of the firm.As a result, Eaton
lost much of his
personal fortune. Eaton served on the boards of directors of 25 corporations including Republic Steel, National Acme Co., Harnischfeger Corp., Cleveland Tractor Co., Inland Investors and others.
An associate once remarked, "J.O. Eaton's presence on the board assures the integrity of the company."
career, one of Eaton's responses to adversity was to increase the advertising and promotion of his
company's products.To combat the post-World War I depression, he
hired the company's first full-time advertising director in 1923.In 1933, with the economy at its lowest point in history, he
hired a young man named John W. Hill who had recently established a public relations practice in Cleveland.
During the Depression, Eaton
started the "Racqueteers," a group of industrialists who were members of the Tavern Club
most exclusive social club.Members wore crimson blazers with an emblem of crossed tennis racquets and martini glasses.His
friends in the Tavern Club
were vitriolic in their hostility toward the New Deal and Franklin Roosevelt.J.O. Eaton
was not, and his
feisty retorts often made the conversations acrimonious.Finally, the Club established a firm rule: No one could talk politics two weeks before an election.Apparently, Eaton
never acquired the conventional political attitudes of his
Tavern Club associates.He
voted for Roosevelt four times.
A business associate once asked Eaton
would consent to be included in a book about great people in industry called, "Small Boys Grown Tall."The book was obviously designed to please the vanity of those included and Eaton
wanted no part of it.He
returned it with the suggestion that the title be amended to "Small Boys Grown Tall, But Not Broad." He
and Edith traveled to Europe often during the 20s and 30s.He was an enthusiastic art collector, and during the last few years of his life, donated most of his extensive art collection to Williams College. Eaton
was always formal, even with long-time associates.Logan Monroe, who worked with Eaton
for 29 years, recalls that there were only a handful of people he
ever called by their first name.To the employees, he
was always, "Mr.Eaton."His
friends most often called him "Joe," and occasionally "J.O.
had a strong sense of vision.He
believed in the infant trucking industry and staked his
future on his
learned quickly, after his
own company was sold to Republic
in 1917, that the quickest way to grow was to acquire other promising companies.
died in 1949, at age 75, the company he
had started had grown to 11 plants in the