Twin Disc Celebrates 100 Years of Manufacturing Innovation

Twin Disc Celebrates 100 Years of Manufacturing Innovation

Twin Disc, Inc. is celebrating its 100th anniversary throughout 2018. The company began in Racine, Wisconsin in 1918 with the introduction of the twin disc farm tractor clutch. Since then, Twin Clutch has upgraded the performance of transmissions involved in farming, construction and marine applications.

One of its major contributions to manufacturing history was Twin Disc’s involvement with the LCVP (Higgins boat) during World War II.  The LCVP was the landing craft extensively used for amphibious landings that was designed by Andrew Higgins. Dwight D. Eisenhower was quoted as saying the vehicle was crucial to the Allies victory in Europe.

“Our company designed and built half the transmission for the LCVP and it changed everything,” Batten said. “These boats went to Europe and Asia and when the war ended they stayed there. Suddenly, we had this product all over the world being used for fishing and workboats, etc. Almost overnight, we became a global company.”

Twin Disc began opening sales offices around the world and played a significant role in the MacArthur Expansion in 1950s Japan. The company was tied to both the marine and construction transmission markets and expanded at a rapid pace.

Oil recessions in the 70s and 80s slowed things down a bit, but one of the most significant challenges was that many of Twin Disc’s customers began building the transmissions themselves—vertically integrating the product into their own manufacturing facilities.  

Batten believes the company persevered during the tougher times with a manufacturing and office staff known for its longevity, adaptability, curiosity and loyalty.

“The average seniority for our employees was 25+ years in the shop and 20+ years in the office,” Batten added. “They’ve pulled through restructures and witnessed plenty of ups and downs. It’s hard to argue against that Midwest work ethic. I believe these are many of the traits the staff has had going back 100 years.”

Today, Twin Disc is focusing more on controls and system integration instead of individual components, technologies for propulsion controls, thrusters, steering systems, drives, etc. instead of basic clutches.

“This anniversary is a chance for us to reflect on the inventiveness of the company’s founders and my predecessors, as well as the resilience and willingness to adapt that has allowed Twin Disc to flourish for a century,” said Batten. “It’s also an opportunity for us to express our appreciation for our employees, customers, and the communities we work and live in.”

Batten is bullish on the U.S. manufacturing market. He knows that in order to succeed in the future, the company will need additional output here in the United States. The goal is to be a leader in hybrid technologies for diesel applications in the foreseeable future.

In order to accomplish this, Twin Disc will need a new generation of talent similar to the workforce that has made it so successful for 100 years.

“Trade schools and two-year education paths are available for kids today to make a great career,” Batten said. “They don’t need a four-year degree to be successful in life. They simply need to see the opportunities that manufacturing can offer.”  

Batten added that the organization is ready and willing to hire additional team members in the coming months. “We’re looking for new talent right now. If you want to come to Racine, Wisconsin, we have jobs to fill!”

Twin Disc is preparing a series of local, national and international events and promotions to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year, including an international distributor meeting at its corporate headquarters. Twin Disc will participate in local Racine events, including the Lighthouse Run, Independence Day Parade, and the WKLH Work Force Tour.

Other North American and international Twin Disc subsidiaries, in Belgium, Italy, Singapore, India, and Australia, will also celebrate the 100th anniversary with events and promotions.

“We’re looking forward to all these opportunities to celebrate our history, and more importantly, the people who helped make Twin Disc what it is today,” Batten said. “It is my hope that these reflections encourage us to look toward our next 100 years and inspire the next generation of Twin Disc employees to imagine and develop new ways to continue to put horsepower to work.” (www.twindisc.com)

Categories: Editors Choice

About Author

Matthew Jaster

Matthew Jaster, Senior Editor, has a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and has 15+ years of writing and editing experience in automotive, manufacturing, engineering, law and arts and entertainment.

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