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Lifting Industry Leader John West Among AEM 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees | Industry News

Lifting Industry Leader John West Among AEM 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees | Industry News

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers' (AEM) Hall of Fame inductees for 2014 include one industry giant who helped shape the crane and lifting industry for more than half a century.

John D. West, who worked for the Manitowoc Company for some 55 years and led it  from 1952 until retiring in 1988, was among five leaders of equipment manufacturers recently inducted into the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Hall of Fame.

Under West's leadership, the Manitowoc Company continued as a leader in the shipbuilding industry, grew into one of the world's leading manufacturers of lattice-boom crawler cranes, and established itself as a world-leading manufacturer of commercial ice machines.

John West, whose father, Charles C. West, had founded company as a shipyard in 1902, was a born engineer, inventor, and problem solver, and held a degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.

John West began working for the company in the 1930s after graduating from college. He spent nearly 20 years as machine shop superintendent before taking over as company president from his father in 1952.

With John D. West's leadership and push for innovation, The Manitowoc Company brought many technological advancements to market that set new lifting industry standards.

Under West, Manitowoc was the first to use T-1 high-strength steel in booms, design a controlled torque converter for smooth controlled operation, and patent the RINGER heavy-lift attachment which doubled a crane's capacity. These improvements made cranes easier to control, saved time and money for construction companies, and led to a safer job site.

West worked his way up the organization from shop floor to boardroom and was known for his common-touch management style. He foresaw market globalization and expanded the company overseas (today more than half of corporate revenue comes from non-U.S. markets), enabling Manitowoc to expand into a multi-brand operation and diversify offerings.
West was a man of particularly strong ethics who told his employees, "There is never a right way to do the wrong thing." He implemented the company's first profit-sharing program for employees.

He was a quiet philanthropist who had a positive and lasting effect on his community, including establishment of a philanthropic organization for Manitowoc County, a botanical garden, and support for the arts. Among his honors are a Distinguished Service Citation from the University of Wisconsin College of Engineering.

Efficiency and sustainability became key priorities for Manitowoc during West's time at the helm. He led a push to conserve water, lessen pollution, improve air quality, and cut production overruns that led to material waste.

West retired in 1988 and died in 1989.

The AEM's other Hall of Fame inductees for 2014 included:

  • E.G. Melroe & the Melroe Family, Melroe Manufacturing & Bobcat Company
  • Agustin 'Gus' Ramirez, HUSCO International
  • Robert J. Ratliff, AGCO Corporation
  • Rollin Henry White, Cleveland Tractor Company (Cletrac)

The (AEM) Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding individuals in the off-road equipment industry, and their legacy of innovation, service and leadership.

AEM Hall of Fame inductees have been evaluated by an independent panel of industry experts on five criteria that are vital to the health of the off-road equipment manufacturing industry: 1) innovation, 2) industry contributions, 3) leadership, 4) corporate citizenship/social responsibility and 5) sustainability.

In a statement announcing the 2014 inductees, AEM said that the inductees' vision and hard work have been vital to advancing global economic and social prosperity, and that their legacy strengthens continued industry contributions to improving our quality of life, and serves as an inspiration for tomorrow's leaders.

Information about the AEM Hall of Fame and all its inductees can be found at



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