International Harvester

Information taken from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

The International Harvester Company (often abbreviated by IHC, IH or simply International) was an American manufacturer of agricultural and construction equipment, automobiles, commercial trucks, lawn and garden products, household equipment, and more.  It was formed from the 1902 merger of McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and Deering Harvester Company and three smaller manufacturers: Milwaukee; Plano; and Warder, Bushnell and Glessner (manufacturers of Champion brand). Its brands included McCormick, Deering, and later McCormick-Deering, as well as International.  Along with the Farmall and Cub Cadet tractors, International was also known for the Scout and Travelall vehicle nameplates.  In the 1980s all divisions were sold off except for International Trucks, which changed its parent company name to Navistar International (NYSE:NAV).

     Given its monumental importance to the building of rural communities the brand continues to have a massive cult following.  The International Harvester legacy non-profits host some of the largest agriculture related events in the United States.

     Following years of financial and economic decline, International began selling its separate equipment divisions, starting with the sale of the construction division to Dresser Industries in 1982. In November 1984 IH finalized a deal with Tenneco to sell the farm equipment division to Tenneco's subsidiary Case Corporation, and the brand continues as Case IH, which is owned by CNH. The European division exists today as McCormick Tractors and is owned by ARGO Apa of Italy.  Internationa became solely a truck and engine manufacturer and reorganized as Navistar International in 1986. Throughout its existence International Harvester was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.  In 2020 Volkswagen agreed to fully purchase the remaining shares of Navistar.

Founding: The roots of International Harvester run to the 1983s, when Virginia inventor Cyrus Hall McCormick perfected his version of a horse-drawn reaper, which he field-demonstrated in 1831 and for which he received a patent in 1834. Together with his brother Leander J. McCormick, he moved to Chicago in 1847 to be closer to the Midwestern grain fields and founded the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company.  The reaper sold well, partially as a result of savvy and innovative business practices.  Their products came onto the market just as the development of railroads offered wide distribution to distant territories.  he developed a vast support network to demonstrate field operations.  McCormick died in 1884 and his company passed to his son, Cyrus McCormick, Jr., whose antipathy and incompetence toward organized labor sparked the Haymarket affair, the origin of May Day as a labor holiday.

     Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, despite good sales, IH's profit margins remained slim.  The continual addition of unrelated business lines created a somewhat unwieldy corporate organization. Overly conservative management and a rigid policy of in-house promotion tended to strife new management strategies and technical innovation.  IH faced strong competition and increased production costs, primarily due to lablr and government-imposed environmental and safety regulations.

     In 1979 IH named a new CEO, Archie McCardell, who was determined to improve profit margins and drastically cut costs.  Unprofitable lines were terminated and factory production was curtailed.  By the end of the year, profits were at their highest levels in 10 years but cash reserves were still low.  Union members became increasingly irate over these measures and in the spring of 1979, IH prepared to face a strike.  On November 1, IH announced McCardell had received a $1.8 million bonus.  After he pressed for more concessions from the Untied Auto Workers, a strike was called on November 2, 1979. By the time it ended, the strike has cost the company almost $600 million (over $1 billion today).

     By 1981, the company's finances were at their lowest point ever.  The company sold its Payline division of construction equipment to Dresser Industries in 1982.  Further assets were sold to Tenneco, Inc., in 1984.

     Following the merger, tractor production at Farmall Works ceased in 1985. Production of the new Case IH tractors moved to J.I. Case in Racine, Wisconsin.  production of IH Axial-Flow combines continued at the East Moline, Illinois, factory.  The Memphis Works plant was closed.  The truck and engine divisions remained and in 1986, Harvester changed the corporation name to Navistar International Corporation, having sold the International Harvester name to Tenneco.  Navistar International Corporation continues to manufacture medium-and heavy-duty trucks, school buses, and engines under the International brand name.