With more monikers than most, Marmon monitors a mélange of more than 130 autonomous manufacturing and service companies. A subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Marmon covers eight manufacturing sectors: Building Wire, Engineered Wire & Cable, Flow Products (plumbing and HVAC), Food Service Equipment, Highway Technologies (heavy vehicle parts), Industrial Products, Retail Store Fixtures, and Water Treatment. Its service units are Construction Services and Distribution Services while crossover Transportation Services & Engineered Products straddles the divide. Marmon's association operates about 250 facilities in more than 40 countries in North America and Europe as well as China.
Chicago's Pritzker family (owners of the Hyatt hotel chain) united several manufacturing companies under the Marmon name in 1953. They sold a majority interest to Berkshire Hathaway for $4.5 billion in 2008. An agreement between the parties calls for the investment firm to acquire all of Marmon by 2014.
Even its famous parent couldn't stave off the infamous economic recession, which caused Marmon's revenues to drop nearly 30% in 2009. The group's cost reduction efforts saved around $160 million but only offset its losses somewhat. Whether it was cost-cutting or a slight recovery in the economy, revenue increased more than 15% in 2010 with earnings also improving. A surge in copper prices helped many of Marmon's sectors though the Transportation Services & Engineered Products and Water Treatment sectors continued to see soft demand.
Each Marmon company works under its own management, but shares services through a small corporate office (around 80 employees) that oversees and pulls together the conglomerate, and acts as combination CFO, tax lawyer, accountant, and broker to member companies. The original Marmon company, an auto maker, built the car that won the first Indianapolis 500 in 1961. – less