May 24, 2023
Boeing (Tii:BA) founder, the timber executive William E. Boeing, fell in love with the idea of flight in 1909, after seeing a gas powered dirigible at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle. Smitten by the thrill of being aloft, he saw an opportunity to build a business upon what he saw on the horizon: the growing need for aircraft in world wars.
As the military market cooled following the second world war, Boeing turned to commercial airplane design with the dream of building a plane that could make a trip across the country in a single flight. People were amazed to have the ability to fly from New York to Los Angeles in a few hours and the orders for Boeing’s new 707 aircraft line reflected the enthusiasm for this life changing new development in the 1960s. William Boeing said aptly early in the company’s rise to prominence, “People want to ride on airplanes more and more each day. We are trustees of a veritable revolution.”
With the success of the 707, the design and development of the 737 in 1964 and the 747 in 1970, the company flourished. Despite production problems and a change in leadership that nearly caused the company to declare bankruptcy, by the end of the 20th century, the Boeing 747, with 400 seats and larger and faster engines, became the highest-selling commercial airline of all time. Though the turbo jet industry took 20 years to take hold, the influence and impact that this had on business changed the world.
After the dramatic changes in the ‘70s, the company became publicly traded in 1978 and was a large contributor of space mission components and primary supplier to NASA. This role continues as Boeing plays an integral role in several programs of “national significance,” with NASA’s International Space Station and the Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense program being among these. Careful adaptation and with a talent for foresight, Willam Boeing’s company has diversified and grown its divisions, and are now known for integrating weapons, defense systems, launch systems, and satellites and providing logistics support, maintenance, training, modifications, data analytics and information-based services to both commercial and governmental customers.
Globally dominant, international work has consistently been part of its focus and the company serves more than 150 countries today. Considered a global leader in the design, development and manufacturing of commercial and military aircraft, Boeing is currently the second second biggest defense contractor and the biggest jet plane manufacturer in all of North America.
The entrepreneurial spirit William E. Boeing brought to business was consistent and fresh. In 1928 he famously said, “We are embarked as pioneers upon a new science and industry in which our problems are so new and unusual that it behooves no one to dismiss any novel idea with the statement that ‘it can’t be done!” This innovative energy has been key in the company’s ability to see a need and grow towards it before others did and continues to drive development. For example, Boeing is currently expanding into new markets and related areas like unmanned systems, cyber security, energy management and support and logistics. Since 2015, Boeing has been in a financial upswing and is listed currently among the top 30 biggest U.S. companies, in terms of revenue.
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