For more than 100 years, the word Bucyrus was synonymous with mining. Caterpillar (Cat) completed the acquisition during July and the company is rebranding almost all of the product lines. Not many people realize the company was named after a small town in north central Ohio. Being able to correctly pronounce the name, however, was one clear way to distinguish between someone with some level of surface mining knowledge and an industry neophyte. Even in some of the most remote parts of the world, the locals new the name as it was often associated with a large electric shovel.
Cat recently invited me and about 30 other journalists to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, to explain the plans for the future and the rationale behind the decisions (See Cat Merger, p. 94). That’s right Milwaukee, not Peoria. Prior to the acquisition, Bucyrus had purchased and renovated a corporate official facility in Oak Creek, Wis., a southern suburb. Cat obviously liked the facility, so much so it decided to make it the headquarters for the global mining division. With JoyGlobal, P&H Mining, a large crusher presence (Metso, Sandvik, Telsmith, etc.), and others, Milwaukee has become even more of a major hub for mining manufacturers.
The company was founded in 1880 by Daniel P. Eells as the Bucyrus Foundry and Manufacturing Co. It was supplying a burgeoning railroad industry and it would outgrow its Ohio facilities and move operations to its current location in South Milwaukee. The name was also changed to Bucyrus Steam Shovel and Dredge Co. of Wisconsin. In 1894, it introduced the first electric excavating machine.
Bucyrus acquired and merged many companies over the years. In 1927, it merged with Erie Steam Shovel Co. to become Bucyrus-Erie. During World War II, it converted its factory to supply the war effort. In the 1950s, Bucyrus engineers launched large diameter rotary blasthole drills. It introduced the first AC-powered electric mining shovel in 1981. In 1997, it acquired a major rival, Marion Power Shovel, and changed the company name to Bucyrus International.
The only thing in the mining business bigger than shovels and draglines are the machines that make the shovels and draglines. The last time I visited the Bucyrus factory, Tim Sullivan, an enthusiastic vice president of operations, was showing me where they would place the new machine tools they were moving up from Marion, Ohio. Our paths would cross again many times, only now he was the CEO of a publicly-held Bucyrus and I would be the editor of E&MJ.
The company now suffers the same fate of the previous companies it acquired. In 2007, Bucyrus acquired Deutsche Bergbau Technik (German coal mining technology), an underground coal mining equipment manufacturer that was also a collection of predecessor companies. It acquired and merged a number of great German names: Halbach & Braun, Hemscheidt, Klockner-Becorit, Westfalia, etc. With the DBT acquisition, Bucyrus became immersed in underground coal mining. Then in 2010, it acquired Terex Mining, which had hydraulic excavators and haul trucks. Bucyrus was building an immense presence and most of the equipment was rebranded Bucyrus.
Cat respectfully set aside one corner of the Bucyrus factory as a museum to the company. Three floors are dedicated to the history of the company from the Panama Canal to the major mining operations around the world today. On the top floor is the Sullivan Library, a well-appointed reading room and a tip of the hat for a job well done. Another great mining name will now fade away.