Company News

Twin Disc Celebrates 100 Years Of ‘Making Horsepower Work’

From 1918—when P.H. Batten introduced the twin disc farm tractor clutch in Racine, Wis.—to 2018, with subsidiaries all around the world, Twin Disc has grown into a global leader in marine power transmission in its first 100 years. To mark its centennial, Twin Disc is hosting celebrations throughout the year both in the United States and around the world. The events began in May and will continue through the end of the year.

“This anniversary enables us to reflect on the inventiveness of the company’s founders and my predecessors, as well as the resilience and willingness to adapt, that has empowered Twin Disc to flourish for a century,” said Twin Disc President and CEO John H. Batten, fourth-generation company leader. “It’s also an opportunity to express our appreciation for our employees, customers and the communities we work and live in.”

Batten’s father, Michael Batten, led the company from 1983 to 2008. Following company founder P.H. Batten’s tenure, John H. Batten took the reins of the company in 1948 and led the company’s international expansion in the 1960s and 1970s.

From its founding as a farm tractor clutch manufacturer, Twin Disc expanded to the marine market in the 1930s with countershaft reduction gears that offered 100 percent reverse power. Then, during World War II, Twin Disc put all its energies into the war effort and was awarded a contract with the U.S. Navy to provide marine transmissions for more than 20,000 Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel vessels (LCVP)—better known as the Higgins boat. The LCVP, designed by Andrew Higgins and built at Higgins Industries’ New Orleans shipyard, was crucial to the Allied forces’ attack strategy during the war and played a huge role in amphibious landings, like the Normandy invasion on D-Day. The company also supplied transmissions for artillery tractors. For its role in World War II, Twin Disc received the Army-Navy “E” Award.

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In the decades that followed, Twin Disc expanded its product line to serve commercial and recreational vessels of all kinds in Europe and the Americas, later incorporating electronic controls, high-speed surface drives, the QuickShift transmission, propellers, joystick controls and a position-holding system. Most recently, Twin Disc has acquired Veth Propulsion, a Netherlands-based manufacturer of azimuth rudder propellers, thrusters and generator sets. Veth and Twin Disc had a distribution partnership dating back to late 2015.

To mark its centennial, Twin Disc is hosting several events in the United States, along with celebrations at subsidiary locations in Australia, Belgium, India, Italy and Singapore. The company will also unveil a new Heritage Gallery at its Wisconsin headquarters. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for August, with a public grand opening on tap for late September or early October.

“We look forward to all these opportunities to celebrate our history and, more importantly, the people who helped make Twin Disc what it is today,” Batten said. “It is my hope that these reflections encourage us to look toward our next 100 years and inspire the next generation of Twin Disc employees to imagine and develop new ways to continue to put horsepower to work.”