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Who killed Westinghouse? Logo
Stories by Steve Massey * Illustration by Daniel Marsula

It's sure no longer Westinghouse

It may have many names, but much of Westinghouse will remain

Westinghouse Electric Corp. may have disappeared from the stock tables, but the Westinghouse name will likely live on -- as should most of the 6,300 jobs in the units remaining in the region.

If past is prelude, local employment may even grow at the nuclear energy, government operations and process control divisions once they are taken under the wings of new, committed owners.

That's because the three businesses are composed primarily of "intellectual assets" -- technical experts who provide hard-to-duplicate services to the nuclear power industry, the military and the government.

As has always been the case at Westinghouse, the quality of these technicians and their technology is not at issue. It's why the Westinghouse name still carries significant weight around the world.

For example, the Monroeville-based nuclear energy division, which employs 3,000 locally, built 48 of the 105 operating nuclear plants in the United States and 31 overseas, and designed 81 more through licensing agreements with foreign partners.

It also holds patents to a new nuclear plant design that China wants, a desire that can be fulfilled now that the Clinton administration has lifted a ban on nuclear technology sales to the world's most populous country.

Westinghouse's government operations division, which employs 2,400, including 2,000 at its Bettis Atomic facility in West Mifflin, created and still serves the nation's nuclear Navy. It also manages Department of Energy sites and provides hazardous cleanup services. And the booming process control division, which employs 600 in O'Hara, makes software and instrument controls for power, water and industrial customers throughout the world.

Remaining workers and local economic development authorities should take comfort from the experiences of other units that have left the Westinghouse fold in recent years.

Employment at Westinghouse's former people mover and mass transit car unit, which was divested in 1989 and is now called Adtranz, has more than doubled to 1,800 worldwide, including a jump from 580 to 900 at its North American headquarters in West Mifflin. Sales rose from $218 million in 1996 to $254 million last year, and orders continue to pour in. This week, it received a $104 million order for a people-mover system at San Francisco International Airport.

Sales and employment at its former wholesale electrical distribution subsidiary, Wesco Distribution, have undergone a similar spurt since being spun off in 1994. The Station Square-based concern has added 1,000 workers, including about 200 locally, the past four years. Its sales have jumped $1 billion, to $2.6 billion, during the same period.

A third divested unit, the distribution and control business that was sold to Cleveland-based Eaton Corp.'s Cutler-Hammer subsidiary in 1994, has expanded its local work force by 200 to 1,600, is building a $15 million headquarters in Moon and is launching a new North American engineering services and repair division out of Pittsburgh.

Westinghouse's reach goes beyond companies it created. Many former executives and engineers have gone on to create businesses of their own.

Among many others, they include Gerald McGinnis, founder of Respironics Inc., the respiratory care and medical products concern; L.P. Gupta, founder of Gupta Permold Corp., a maker of propulsion systems for rail and transit cars; Dick Rosey, founder of Ebara Solar Inc., a solar technology developer; and Michael Bussler, founder of Algor Inc., an engineering and design software concern.

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