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Cummins: From Local Boy to Global Enterprise

You can't mention diesel engine nowadays without mentioning Cummins, but did you know how it came about? 

Cummins Inc. was founded by Clessie Cummins in Columbus, Indiana in 1919. Before that, Cummins was the chauffeur of the local industrialist and philanthropist William G. Irwin. 

During World War I, Cummins heard about the diesel engine, invented by Rudolf Diesel in Germany. He was able to secure a license from Dutch maker Hvid to build a small 3-hp diesel engine in the US and sold the engines through Sears, Roebuck & Co, and thus Cummins Engine Company was born. 

Cummins took over a decade to refine his own design. Despite feats such as finishing Indianapolis 500 without a single pit stop (video), or driving from New York to Los Angeles in merely 91 hours (video), car and truck makers did not embrace diesel as much as expected. It took William Irwin's grand-nephew, J Irwin Miller, joining in 1934, to make the company into an international name.  J Irwin Miller was able to drum up more business during the depression by touting diesel's efficiency, and the company became profitable in 1937, and it did great for the next three decades. 

In the 1960's, Cummins profit and market share started to slip when others caught up. By expanding into overseas markets and agricultural markets, the company remained profitable into the 1970's. Cummins also bought Holset Engineering in the UK, maker of the turbochargers. 

The company entered a restructuring period during the early 1980's and trimmed 22 percent of the workforce while entering into cooperation with Chrysler to introduce the RAM pickups powered by Cummins. The company struggled to meet the new EPA mandated standards, and market share slipped again. But Cummins, after almost a decade of reform and retraining, came back, stronger than ever. 

Currently, Cummins is the largest independent truck engine maker in the world, with facilities in 197 countries. With the acquisition of Efficient Drivetrains, a maker of hybrid and electric power solutions in July 2018, Cummins is poised to take on tomorrow's power challenges. 

Whether you need parts or service for your Cummins or other diesel engines, Michigan Truck and Equipment is there. Call us today.  


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