The roots of Horsburgh & Scott go all the way back to Haddington, Scotland in the 1870s...
Frank Horsburgh was born in 1854 in the town of Haddington, near Edinburgh Scotland. He served a machine shop apprenticeship to become a journeyman machinist. He came to the United States in 1881 to visit his brother in Cleveland, Ohio. He worked in Minneapolis for one winter and being discouraged, mostly about the cold weather, returned to Scotland in 1882. His mother urged him to return to the U.S. for greater opportunities and he came back to Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1886, Horsburgh and another millwright named Thomas Scott formed a partnership and opened a machine shop at 108 Canal Street in Cleveland. The majority of their work was done for the local street car company, manufacturing wire trolley switchovers and wire connectors. Soon thereafter they bought their first gear equipment to make spur gears and axle pinions for electric street car drives.
In 1889, the partnership with Scott was dissolved and Frank Horsburgh went forward on his own. In 1903, he decided to formally incorporate the business as the Horsburgh & Scott Company. The shop was moved to its present location, where about 20 employees worked in one building covering 6,000 square feet.
During the first three decades of the twentieth century, through good times and bad, two more buildings were added to house various types of gear cutters, and in 1927, the company’s first Sykes Herringbone gear generator. About this time, the need for enclosed gear drives became apparent, and the first speed reducer (a worm gear drive) was built. Spur, helical and herringbone units were then added to the product line.
Frank Horsburgh remained with the company until his death in 1933 at age 79. His sons, Robert and Thomas, who had joined the company in 1913, took over. Graduates of the Case School of Applied Science, they skillfully guided Horsburgh & Scott through the Great Depression of the 30’s and the war years of the 40’s. Robert’s three sons, Chuck, Don, and Ken, (also graduates from Case with engineering degrees) joined the company at this time when primary product focus was on gearing for the steel industry.
With the end of World War II came new demands for gearing to support America’s capital expansion. Consequentially Horsburgh & Scott began to grow at an unprecedented rate. More buildings were added to house new machine tools, greater engineering was undertaken, and new products were introduced to serve new markets. Over a 25-year period, the company experienced controlled growth under the guidance of Chuck, Don, and Ken Horsburgh, Bud Beaumont, and a strong Board of Directors.
In 1973, Ken’s son, Christopher joined the company, followed by Ken Jr. in 1982, becoming the 4th generation of Horsburgh & Scott Management. High labor costs in the U.S. created a sudden decline in heavy capital goods and the onset of international competition created significant challenges.
In 1979, Horsburgh & Scott effected a buyout which transferred ownership from a board group of Horsburgh family and miscellaneous shareholders to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). All of the H&S employees were the owners of H&S.
In 1988, Chris and Ken Jr. reversed the ESOP decision and bought out all of the employees. The proceeds of the sale were distributed to the employees through a qualified plan so each was able to convert it into a 401k account for their own management. This made Horsburgh & Scott a privately owned company once again.
In 1995 P&H Mining bought Horsburgh & Scott to expand its mining-equipment lines. Harnischfeger, owner of the P&H mining division, a Milwaukee-based maker of equipment for the paper, pulp and mining industries, had sales of $634.3 million for its first quarter that year. P&H held the company under their ownership for 10 years.
In 2005, P&H decided to divest their ownership in Horsburgh. After a long search for a buyer and several offers, Chris Horsburgh and three other investors bought the company back again into private ownership.
In November of 2007 they sold to private equity firm, Bolder Capital. Over 5 years of ownership, Bolder capital invested $25 MM in state-of-the art equipment and in-house heat treat capability. GenNx360, a private equity firm, then bought Horsburgh & Scott in 2012 and remains their current owner.