Space Shuttle

GKN today – a global leader

Today, GKN is established as one of the world’s leading technology and engineering companies: a key supplier of components for everything from cars to F18 fighter jets, and even the Space Shuttle – quite an achievement for a single South Wales ironworks.

Having refocused the business in the 1990s – and without Chep and Cleanaway – GKN had become smaller and less highly valued – and was relegated from the FTSE 100 Index. The Financial Times even forecast that it would decline into obscurity like so many other UK engineering companies.

Advanced technology; Mitsubishi Evo 10; Laser in Lohmar plant, Germany;

Sir Kevin Smith, who became chief executive in 2003, saw things differently. In 2004, GKN sold its share in AgustaWestland to Finmeccanica for £1.063 billion – 1.2 times the acquisition price. Driveline was re-orientated from low-growth, high-cost Western economies to high-growth, low-cost markets in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Torque management expanded from its base in Japan. Powder metallurgy grew strongly in Europe and Asia. Selective acquisitions expanded the off-highway business.

Perhaps most significantly, the aerospace business was built into the world’s leading independent producer of aerostructures, culminating in the purchase in 2009 of the Airbus wing manufacturing and assembly plant at Filton near Bristol in the UK.

Today, GKN employs 40,000 people in 30 countries and supplies the world’s leading automotive, aerospace and off-highway companies. Its rich and varied history has created a modern company with a unique reputation for quality and innovation – GKN is the only non-Japanese company to be named Toyota’s best supplier three times.

Throughout the past 250 years, GKN has welcomed change, not feared it. It has never been afraid to innovate. It has always been practical: it has always been a proud company, but the pride has always been tempered by an immense realism. That is why it is still here. That is why GKN occupies a unique place in global industrial history.

On top of the world

Mission Everest

With employees in five continents, GKN is the epitome of a modern global business and has proved to be a true global citizen. This was demonstrated in 2007 by an extraordinary fundraising drive to benefit some of Africa’s poorest communities. GKN Mission Everest inspired employees around the world to raise money for their local communities, with the company then matching the funds raised with donations to African charities. The centrepiece of the effort was the sponsorship of the first-ever powered paraglider flight over the Himalayas higher than Mount Everest by Bear Grylls – a record-breaking adventure that inspired the raising of $1.7 million of aid for Africa.


2001 Apple iPod launched

2004 Facebook social networking website founded

2009 Burj Dubai became world’s tallest building

Music: 2000s
Pop music embraced a range of global styles
Other sources of information
A history of NASA
GKN Mission Everest website
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