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Corporate: WARN History

Founded in 1948 by Arthur Warn, Warn Industries began producing locking hubs for surplus World War II Jeeps, converting thousands into useful, on-road vehicles. Originally based in Seattle, Washington, Warn Industries' innovation revolutionized the hub industry. The WARN winch, developed in 1959, was the first recreational winch. With pioneering features such as a rugged drive train, the WARN winch quickly became the leading brand for off-road racers, avid four wheelers, weekend adventurers and hard working ranchers.

Warn Industries added to its product family throughout the 1970s with manual and automatic hubs for all 4WD vehicles, new electric and hydraulic winches, severe duty winches and new winch mounting systems. By the end of the decade, the company began its long-standing relationship with Ford Motor Company, established worldwide product distribution capabilities and opened manufacturing operations near Portland, Oregon. The WARN severe duty winches have since become the "winch of choice" for manufacturers such as AM General, manufacturer of the Hummer.

Warn Industries introduced more new products to the winch market in the 1980s, including the industry's first 3-stage planetary gear train and free-spooling clutch, a new utility model, and the industry's first all terrain vehicle (ATV) winch. Continuing to diversify its product line the company also added fender flares and off-road accessory products.

Also in the late 80's the ATV market was emerging, and WARN introduced the industry's first ATV winch and was issued at patent in 1988. By 1986, the company had moved its headquarters to Portland, Oregon and Michael Warn, Arthur Warn's grandson, became Warn Industries' new Chairman of the Board and CEO.

1991 to 1999 were pivotal years for Warn Industries. The company moved to just-in-time manufacturing, implemented Total Quality Control practices and received ISO 9001/QS-9000 certification. The company also created an industrial division, building winches and accessories for the towing and recovery market. In the mid-90's, WARN's ATV division grew as fast as the Powersports industry, and WARN established relationships with OEM's such as Polaris, Yamaha, and Bombardier. In 1997, Warn Industries opened its state-of-the-art world headquarters, a 200,000 sq. ft. manufacturing and distribution facility. This helped it to become the dominant winch manufacturer in the ATV market segment and the number one supplier of wheel-end disconnect technology to OEM customers.

Mike Warn decided to step away from the business in 2000, selling 100% of the company in a management buyout led by Jon Kreitz, Endeavour Capital (Portland, Oregon) and Norwest Equity Partners (Minneapolis, Minnesota). This transaction brought a new infusion of capital into Warn Industries, allowing the company to pursue commercialization of its proprietary wheel-end technology with automotive OEMs, continued rapid expansion of its strong ATV business and support for marketing its leading core products.

In 2002, Warn Industries introduced WARN Works, a new product line designed for the professional workers and do-it-yourselfers who need a powerful tool to assist them. The WARN Works line is developing new distribution channels for WARN, and expanding its product offering to include utility winches, hoists and accessories.

During 2001 - 2004, WARN's Senior Management Team implemented numerous process improvements that have resulted in improved productivity, cost reductions and improved safety for workers. WARN also successfully implemented a full suite of JD Edwards software, which replaced all the legacy information systems. WARN has also extended its manufacturing certificates to include the ISO 14001 environmental management system certificate for both Oregon facilities and WARN's Human Resources team implemented a performance based compensation system that includes formal performance reviews and career development discussions for team members.

WARN implemented a Red Letter dealer program, comprising of over 200 elite members of WARN authorized retail outlets that help provide consumers with the highest level of WARN brand product information, availability and service.

The WARN Team Members have a long tradition of sponsoring food drives and charitable events and volunteering to help the local community. In 2002 that generosity evolved into a formalized giving program called the WARN Employee Community Impact Project which assists our neighbors in the Milwaukie and Clackamas areas.

In October 2003, WARN extended its manufacturing certificates to include the upgrade of the QS9000 to ISO/TS16949:2002 and the 2000 revision of the ISO9001. Also in October 2003, Warn Industries joined Dover Corporation, a multi-billion dollar, global manufacturer of diversified products. Dover is (DOV) on the New York Stock Exchange. (www.dovercorporation.com)

To comply with the latest automotive industry standard ISO/TS 16949:2002 Warn Industries obtained certification in 2004.

In 2005, WARN opened a sales office in the Netherlands, added a Distribution Center in Clackamas, Oregon, a distribution facility in Gahanna, Ohio and expanded its manufacturing capability by opening a new production plant in Saltillo, Mexico. Also in 2005, Jon Kreitz retired from WARN, and Thomas Giacomini was selected and promoted as WARN's CEO and President

In 2005 and 2006, WARN brought several innovative new products to the market, including the PowerPlant compressor winch and the PullzAll tool, a hand-held electric pulling tool.

In late 2007, Thomas Giacomini was promoted to President of the Dover Industrial Products/Material Handling, and John McCalla was promoted to Warn's CEO and President. In 2007, Warn developed the 18,000 lb. winch for the tow/recovery, severe duty, and trailer/equipment markets and was selected to provide all the vehicle self recovery winches for the U.S. military's MRAP program.

In 2008, Warn celebrated its 60th anniversary by releasing the XL product line of 20,000 and 30,000 lb. winches for use on trailers, roll back carriers, and the tow/recovery market; plus a 60th anniversary edition of our iconic 8274 winch; and we introduced the off-road industries first fan cooled electric winch, the Endurance 12.

In 2009, WARN was selected to provide the self recovery winch for the U.S. military's M-ATV program; launched our all new ProVantage plow system for ATVs and UTVs; and announced an all new line of off-road lighting products for both our Truck/Auto segment and our Powersports segment.

Read about more major milestones in the history of Warn Industries