Joseph O. Eaton

Inducted 1983

In 1911, was instrumental in the development of a reliable axle for trucks

Founded Eaton Corporation and served for 38 years as Chairman of the Board

J.O. Eaton’s vision as a manufacturer was exceeded only by his generosity. Born in Yonkers, New York and graduating from Williams College, Eaton began his career as a clerk for the American Express Company. In 1911, after serving in the Army during the Spanish-American War, Eaton and a talented engineer named Viggo Torbensen established the Torbensen Gear and Axle Company. Eaton envisioned a future when motor trucks would play a major role in transportation and the demand for their company’s axles would be great. By the 1920s, the trucking industry was well on its way and there were more Torbensen axles on American trucks than any other manufacturer. By acquiring smaller companies with diverse product lines, the company had established itself as one of the nation’s largest automotive component manufacturers by 1932, when the name was changed to Eaton Manufacturing Company. During the Great Depression, J.O. Eaton’s concern for his employees led to a remarkable policy that guaranteed every employee enough money to support a family. As the company’s growth continued over the next two decades of Eaton’s life, the company prospered and Eaton remained a respected figure among colleagues and employees. As one Eaton worker summed it up: “You couldn’t have worked for a better man.”

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