11) Marketing Strategy

For more than a half-century, it has been the people at Onan who made the company a success, but it was sound and innovative marketing that gave those people the strategy they needed. Of all the thousands of difficult marketing decisions made over the years by Onan executives, the one that finally evolved in 1947 […]

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10) Sale of the Company

One of the most unusual aspects in the history of the Onan Company is the fact that never once in the 60-plus years it has been in existence has it ever failed to produce an annual profit – a feat matched by very few U.S. businesses. Sometimes the profit was small, often it was less […]

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09) Onan’s Physical Facilities

Nothing demonstrates the dramatic growth of the Onan company more than the startling changes in its physical plants during the past 60 years. From D. W. Onan’s basement to a converted garage to a converted barn to a converted house to a sprawling hodge-podge of less-than-efficient industrial buildings used during World War II, Onan’s operations […]

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08) A Big Happy Family

Probably the most distinctive thing about the Onan Company, going all the way back to the founding carried through to the present, is the unusual treatment of the workers and the resulting loyalty and high morale even in the toughest times. Both D.W. Onan and his son, Bud, who succeeded him as chief executive officer, […]

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07) Post War Trauma

While Many Americans danced in the street: when World War II came to an end in 1945, D.W. Onan and his sons. Bud and Bob, celebrated the end of the longest and costliest war in U.S. history with mixed emotions. They, too, were elated over the long-awaited victory by the allied forces. They as much […]

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06) World War II Boom

  From the very beginning, D. W. Onan did not have ambitions to develop his business into a giant operation. It wasn’t that he had a grand scheme to grow to about 100 employees in one modern, spacious plant and then stay that size. Onan’s long-range game plan was much more vague. He wanted a […]

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05) The Great Depression

History books call Oct. 24, 1929, “Black Thursday”. It was the beginning of the worst stock market crash ever experienced in the U.S. It also was the beginning of the Great Depression, the country’s longest, deepest and darkest economic period – an upheaval that lasted more than 10 years, not officially ending until the United […]

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04) The First Electric Plant

In addition to being a mechanical genius and a humanitarian, D. W. Onan also was a philosopher. He was fond of putting down on paper his thoughts on a variety of subjects. He once wrote his 12 points for operating a successful manufacturing company: Product acceptance. Engineering. Experimental research. Tool & die excellence. Production and […]

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03) The Safty Saw

Like most entrepreneurs, D.W. Onan was a confident man. He was optimistic that his new business would grow and succeed, and he wasn’t concerned, or even aware, that he was pitifully short of capital for expansion or that he lacked solid business experience. In retrospect, it was fortunate Onan wasn’t the conservative type, because, in […]

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02) Birth of the Onan Company

One of the many difficult problems facing D.W. Onan during his 13 years at the Reinhard Brothers Co. was the lack of specialized tools and testing equipment to make the repairs on the electric parts of early Twentieth Century motor cars. He neatly solved most of these problems by inventing the tools and equipment he […]

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