John D. West

Chairman, CEO & President / The Manitowoc Company / 1906 - 1989 / Inducted 2014

John D. West

With John D. West's leadership and push for innovation, The Manitowoc Company brought many technological advancements to market that set new lifting industry standards.

Under West, Manitowoc was the first to use T-1 high-strength steel in booms, design a controlled torque converter for various crane uses, and patent the RINGER concept which doubled crane capacity. These improvements made cranes easier to control, saved time and money for construction companies, and led to a safer job site.

West worked his way up the organization from shop floor to boardroom and was known for his common-touch management style. He foresaw market globalization and expanded the company overseas (today more than half of corporate revenue comes from non-U.S. markets), enabling Manitowoc to expand into a multi-brand operation and diversify offerings.

West was a man of particularly strong ethics who told his employees, "There is never a right way to do the wrong thing." He implemented the company's first profit-sharing program for employees. He was a quiet philanthropist who had a positive and lasting effect on his community, including establishment of a philanthropic organization for Manitowoc County, a botanical garden, and support for the arts. Among his honors are a Distinguished Service Citation from the University of Wisconsin College of Engineering.

Efficiency and sustainability became key priorities for Manitowoc during West's time at the helm. He led a push to conserve water, lessen pollution, improve air quality, and cut production overruns that led to material waste.