In 1890s, Henry Timken, a carriage maker in St. Louis, Missouri, recognized that heavy freight wagons had a difficult time making sharp turns. To solve the problem, he applied a tapered roller bearing design that could handle both radial (weight) and thrust (cornering force) loads. The results were encouraging and provided several customer benefits. First, the application ran more smoothly, reducing repair and replacement costs. In some cases, the bearings improved wagon performance so much that fewer mules were required to pull them. Finally, better cornering meant less chance of losing a load of goods. Always focused on customer benefits, Henry quickly realized that the tapered roller bearing could improve product performance in many other applications as well. Henry and his sons, H.H. and William, founded The Timken Roller Bearing and Axle Company in 1899, building the foundation for a global enterprise that today helps keep the world in motion.
Throughout the years, Timken has contributed to customer success through a clear vision, industrial focus, advanced processes and global growth. Following are key examples of how Timken has moved global industries forward since 1899.
Henry Timken’s patented tapered roller bearing formed the bedrock of The Timken Company.
Since 1899, we have dramatically expanded our product portfolio through innovation and acquisitions as well as our reputation by solving problems for our planet and beyond.
By the 1920s, Timken supplied bearings to 80 percent of America’s cars and quickly broadened its reach into new industrial markets. Today, we power the hardest-working industrial machinery, from the fields to space.
Automated, high-volume bearing production at unprecedented speeds propelled Timken to new levels of productivity and profit in the 1950s. But, we never cease to improve, continuously investing in initiatives designed to accelerate product development and line expansion.
In the early 1900s, Timken first enters overseas markets through a licensing agreement in England with much more significant expansion in the 1960s and following decades. Today, we serve customers and markets all around the world through our globally diverse footprint.