Encyclopedia ofChicago
Entries : Northwest Industries Inc.
Entries
N
Northwest Industries Inc.

 

 

 

Northwest Industries Inc.

After Frank Lyon bought the Chicago & North Western Railway in 1956, he installed a young lawyer named Ben Heineman as president. After returning the railroad to profitability, Heineman created a holding company called Northwest Industries in 1968. Four years later, when Northwest Industries had become a conglomerate with interests in a variety of businesses around the country, Heineman sold the railroad. Unlike IC Industries, another conglomerate born out of a Chicago-based railroad, Northwest Industries employed only a small number of people in the Chicago area by the mid-1970s, when annual revenues were approaching $2 billion. By this time, the company owned plants around the world and made boots, batteries, underwear (including the “Fruit of the Loom” brand), and a variety of other goods. In 1985, Northwest Industries was purchased by William F. Farley, who changed its name to Farley Industries Inc. but kept the headquarters in Chicago. This company had about 50,000 employees worldwide and nearly $4 billion in annual sales by the late 1980s, but in 1991 it went bankrupt and was dismantled. See also Chicago & North Western Railroad Co.