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Lear Siegler Incorporated was created as a result of a merger between the Siegler Corporation (Los Angeles) and Lear Avionics Inc. (Santa Monica) that was concluded in 1961. John G. Brooks was the founder; President and Chairman of Siegler and William Lear was the founder; President and Chairman at Lear. The merger was based on Brooks' goal of growing Siegler into one of the first conglomerates (with a focus on aerospace markets) and Lear’s goal of divesting his ownership interest in Lear to pursue development of his Learjet corporate aircraft (the first pure jet private aircraft).
During the late 1950s, and throughout the 1960s and 1970s, America (and Southern California in particular) was experiencing an unprecedented boom in aviation technology and aerospace research and development, based on a "space race" inaugurated by the launch of Sputnik, a simple but startling first in a long history of scientific and technological competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The resulting firm, Lear Siegler Incorporated,[which?] leveraged its new expertise in controls, instruments and navigation systems into a steadily increasing share of government and general aviation contracts for research and development, as well as system delivery. Notable innovations include inertial guidance systems, "hands off" landing systems, the telemetry and navigational instrumentation for the Apollo Moon missions, and the flight controls for the Lockheed L-1011 commercial aircraft.
The business climate was strongly influenced by the political undercurrent that accelerated when Sputnik was launched, and amplified when President John F. Kennedy set as a national goal putting an American astronaut on the Moon by the end of the decade of the 1960s. This goal, based on an unprecedented effort by the combined resources of the American aerospace industry, was achieved in 1969.
By 1970, LSI had 56 divisions in 17 countries operating in six major business areas — commercial products, fabricated products, avionics, power equipment, systems and services, and real estate. Keys to the company's growth and performance were product diversification; balanced growth, where internal growth matches growth by acquisition; a favorable sales ratio between non-government and government business; a formalized, in-depth planning program; and emphasis on management development. Sales had skyrocketed from $6.5 million at its inception to over $600 million by the close of 1969. Government / Aerospace accounted for 65% of its volume.
In its expansion, Lear Siegler had acquired Bangor Punta, which was an early conglomerate manufacturing Piper Aircraft, multiple brands of sailboats, Smith and Wesson firearms and other well-known brands.