Local historian John Gurda has another great piece in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — this one taking a closer look at the acquisitions of M&I Bank and Bucyrus International in the past year.
“Before 2011 disappears completely in the rear-view mirror,” Gurda writes, “we should pause to consider two local business giants who lost their independence during the year. One succumbed to failure and the other, ironically, was a victim of its own success. Those icons, you may have guessed, are M&I Bank and Bucyrus International. They’re both still with us, in most of the same locations and with substantially the same products, but they operate under different principles and entirely different principals.”
As for Bucyrus, he writes:
Turnabout, I suppose, is fair play. Milwaukee snatched Bucyrus from Ohio in 1893, and now an Illinois firm was returning the favor. Caterpillar moved quickly to secure its new prize, changing the signs on the South Milwaukee plant to yellow and gold almost overnight.
The Caterpillar sale was a tribute to Tim Sullivan’s management skills, a windfall for stockholders and a testament to the quality of the Bucyrus labor force. Whether it works out for the long-term benefit of those employees and their communities is a question that only Caterpillar can answer.
Check out the column here, and post your comments below.
By the way, Gurda also spoke at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center on Saturday. The topic: “A Region Built on Water: Milwaukee’s Use and Abuse of a Vital Resource.” If you went to the show, I’d like to know what you thought.