Founded during: In 1929, amid the Great Depression
The notorious year that the stock market crashed, spurring a 10-year global downturn, also marked the birth of an aerospace giant. United Aircraft and Transport Corporation began life as a holding company for airlines, airplane parts manufacturers and aviation companies such as Boeing.
Most industries floundered under the financial crisis, but the Golden Age of Aviation was in full swing and kept United Aircraft aloft. In fact, the company pulled so many other businesses under its umbrella during its initial years that it quickly smacked up against antitrust laws. In 1934, Boeing and United Airlines became separate companies and United Aircraft turned into what is now UTC, a diversified industrial manufacturer.
Status today: UTC reported $58.7 billion in revenue in 2008. Thanks to increased revenue at UTC's aerospace companies, profits were up in the last quarter of 2008. But orders were slow for products such as elevators and air conditioners, which is a big deal for the company that owns Otis Elevator and Carrier Corp. In the past year, UTC has laid off thousands of workers, and the company plans continue slashing in the early months of 2009 as it undergoes major restructuring.
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