Johnson Controls, Inc. History

5757 North Green Bay Avenue
Post Office Box 591
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-0591

Telephone: (414) 524-1200
Fax: (414) 524-2077

Public Company
Incorporated: 1885 as Johnson Electric Service Company
Employees: 113,000
Sales: $22.65 billion (2003)
Stock Exchanges: New York
Ticker Symbol: JCI
NAIC: 335911 Storage Battery Manufacturing; 336322 Other Motor Vehicle Electrical and Electronic Equipment Manufacturing; 336360 Motor Vehicle Seating and Interior Trim Manufacturing; 336399 All Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing; 333415 Air-Conditioning and Warm Air Heating Equipment and Commercial and Industrial Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturing; 334290 Other Communications Equipment Manufacturing; 334512 Automatic Environmental Control Manufacturing for Regulating Residential, Commercial, and Appliance Use; 334513 Instruments and Related Product Manufacturing for Measuring, Displaying, and Controlling Industrial Process Variables; 334519 Other Measuring and Controlling Device Manufacturing; 335314 Relay and Industrial Control Manufacturing; 561210 Facilities Support Services

Company Perspectives:

Johnson Controls has expanded remarkably since Professor Warren Johnson founded the company to manufacture his invention, the electric room thermostat. Since its start in 1885, Johnson Controls has grown into a multi-billion dollar corporation, with worldwide leadership in two businesses: automotive systems and building controls. Fundamental to this success is the Johnson Controls mission to continually exceed customers' increasing expectations. We focus on innovation and commit to continuous improvements in quality, service, productivity and time compression. We believe that if we go beyond what customers expect, customers will return again and again, asking Johnson Controls to further contribute to their success. That's why, in both of its businesses, Johnson Controls is doing more for its customers than it did just a few years ago.

Key Dates:

Professor Warren Johnson invents an electric thermostat system--the first room thermostat.
Johnson forms Johnson Electric Service Company, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The company builds its first tower clock for the Minneapolis courthouse.
Company's name is changed to Johnson Service Company.
Following Johnson's death, Harry W. Ellis is elected president and sells all the firm's operations except for the controls business.
Johnson Service goes public with an over-the-counter listing on the NASDAQ system.
Company begins building and installing pneumatic control centers.
First foreign manufacturing plant is built in Italy.
Johnson introduces the JC/80, the first minicomputer system that manages building controls.
Company changes its name to Johnson Controls, Inc.
To diversify, the company merges with Globe-Union Inc., the nation's largest maker of automotive batteries.
Johnson Controls completes two major acquisitions: Hoover Universal, Inc., a major supplier of seating and plastic parts for automobiles and a new entrant in the plastic-container industry; and Ferro Manufacturing Corporation, supplier of automotive seating components and mechanisms.
Pan Am World Services, Inc., provider of facility management services for military bases, airports, and space centers, is acquired.
Metasys facility management system is introduced.
Johnson acquires Roth Frères SA, a French supplier of automotive seating and interior systems.
Company pays $1.3 billion for Holland, Michigan-based Prince Automotive, supplier of automotive interior systems and components.
Plastic container division is sold to a unit of Viag Group AG for about $650 million.
Johnson acquires Becker Group, Inc., a supplier of interior systems in both North America and Europe.
France-based automotive electronics supplier Sagem SA is acquired.
Johnson purchases the automotive battery business of Germany's Varta AG.

Company History:

Further Reading:

  • Berss, Marcia, "Watizzit? Johnson Controls Is a Strange Mixture--Car Seats, Thermostats, Plastic Bottles, and Automobile Batteries. But It Works," Forbes, August 28, 1995, p. 100.
  • Byrne, Harlan S., "Johnson Controls: Back in Gear," Barron's, June 5, 2000, pp. 21-22.
  • ------, "Johnson Controls: Strong Market Positions Help It Ride Out the Recession," Barron's, February 24, 1992, pp. 51-52.
  • Connole, Joe, "Johnson Controls to Storm into Europe," Business Journal-Milwaukee, May 16, 1988, pp. 1+.
  • Content, Tom, "Johnson Controls Buys French Unit: Deal Opens Door to Europe," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26, 2001, p. 1D.
  • ------, "Johnson Controls Elevates Barth: Keyes to Remain Chairman As Part of Succession Plan," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 25, 2002, p. 1D.
  • ------, "Johnson Controls Plans to Boost Battery Power: Acquisition of German Firm to Bring Access to New Technology for Cars and Light Trucks," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 24, 2001, p. 1D.
  • ------, "Johnson Controls to Buy Varta Unit: Acquisition Would Boost Glendale Firm's Hold on Car Batteries in Europe," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 7, 2002, p. 1D.
  • Dubashi, Jagannath, "Slump Control: Johnson Controls Thought One Good Deal Would Eliminate Two Pet Peeves," Financial World, May 29, 1990, p. 49.
  • Gallagher, Kathleen, "Johnson Controls in Driver's Seat with Diverse Sales," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 19, 2001, p. 4D.
  • Gardner, Greg, "JCI Buys Itself a Prince," Ward's Auto World, August 1996, p. 35.
  • Gordon, Joanne, "Interior Motives: Johnson Controls Puts Spy Cameras in Cars--to Find Out What Features You Really Want," Forbes, September 2, 2002, pp. 74-75.
  • Lappen, Alyssa A., "Damn the Analysts, Full Speed Ahead," Forbes, March 20, 1989, pp. 171+.
  • Marsh, Peter, "A Sitting Target for Two Rivals," Financial Times, April 15, 1996, p. 10.
  • ------, "Standing Up to Seating Challenge," Financial Times, February 23, 1998, p. FTS7.
  • Miller, James P., "Johnson Controls' Container Business Will Be Sold to Unit of Germany's Viag," Wall Street Journal, December 10, 1996, p. A3.
  • Right for the Times: Johnson Controls 100th Anniversary, Milwaukee, Wis.: Johnson Controls, Inc., 1985.
  • Rose, Robert L., "Johnson Controls Agrees to Purchase of Becker Group," Wall Street Journal, April 28, 1998, p. B22.
  • ------, "Johnson Controls Gets a Big Boost from the Bottom," Wall Street Journal, February 3, 1997, p. B4.
  • ------, "Johnson Controls Plans to Expand into Asia, Pacific," Wall Street Journal, September 26, 1996, p. B2.
  • ------, "Johnson Controls to Buy Prince Unit As Car-Interior Industry Consolidates," Wall Street Journal, July 19, 1996, p. A3.
  • Rose, Robert L., and Robert L. Simison, "Johnson Controls and UAW Reach Pact," Wall Street Journal, February 21, 1997, pp. A3, A4.
  • Tetzell, Rick, "Mining Money in Mature Markets," Fortune, March 22, 1993, p. 77.
  • Wermiel, Stephen, "Justices Bar "Fetal Protection' Policies," Wall Street Journal, March 21, 1991, pp. B1, B5.
  • Wiegner, Kathleen K., "Bright Spot," Forbes, July 5, 1982, pp. 175+.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.59. St. James Press, 2004.