Volume 3 | Issue 3 | Year 2000

When it comes to making products for the recreational and commercial marine industries, executives at Morse Controls of Hudson, Ohio, understand the need to focus on research and development, and the need to make products its customers want. “Our philosophy is to put our customer at the center of everything we do,” says John Suddarth, president of Morse.

Consequently, it is not surprising that the company heads into the first year of the new millennium making products electronically that were once based on mechanical or hydraulic controls. After all, says Suddarth, “that is what our customers want.”

Founded in 1940 by John Morse, the company revolutionized the marine controls industry by introducing the first all-mechanical control to combine throttle and shift functions in one mechanism. During the next few years, the company introduced the use of long lay conduit in its Red Jacket control cables. The company then pioneered the push-pull cable technology developed for control cables to steering systems. In 1962, Morse introduced the rack-and-pinion cable steering system. Morse innovations dramatically improved the quality and performance of both rack-and-pinion and rotary steering.

Since then, Morse has continued to expand its product line to include high-quality engine parts and marine accessories through two companies: Aqua Power and Sierra International. Sierra International is a leader in marine engine parts and accessories, including high- performance spark plug wires and wire sets; tune-up kits; exhaust manifolds and elbows; F2000 head gaskets, gears and gear sets, bearing and bearing kits; outboard fuel lines; and heavy-duty docking lights. Another Morse company, Hynautic of Sarasota, Fla., offers premier hydraulic throttle controls and steering systems, including the Hy-Trac outboard hydraulic steering system.

Superior Systems

Besides making products its customers want, Morse continues its leadership position by developing innovative hydraulic steering and control systems and performance-enhancing engine parts and marine accessories. Its MPS electronic steering system won the 1997 Boating Writers International Innovation award for OEM component products, Suddarth notes. The MPS system is ideal for some recreational boating applications. The unit eliminates engine torque feedback and high steering wheel loads, uses fly-by-wire technology that maintains boat tracking when the grip is relaxed, offers an ideal upgrade from mechanical or manual hydraulic steering systems, fits most V-4 and V-6 outboards and can be used with some inboards, and has an adjustable steering wheel load.

Besides the marine industry, the company is busy making products and serving four other major markets: heavy automotive, aviation, construction and agricultural equipment. All products are sold directly to OEM’s and through distributors and selected retail outlets. The mobile equipment products area has an unrivaled history in the design, manufacture and supply of remote systems for the industry. The dependability of Morse systems has been proven in some of the most demanding and rugged environments, both off and on the highway. Products include accelerator systems for remote control of engine speed; transmission control systems for control of heavy-duty automatic transmission and manual gearboxes; valve control systems for remote operation of hydraulic and electrohydraulic valves; steering controls and tilt steering systems; multipurpose controls for virtually any remote control application; and quality Redline, Red Jacket and Black Jacket push-pull cables.

Morse’s aviation products, which hark back to the earliest days of flight – the British Spitfires and Hurricanes were fitted with Morse products – include cable controls, screw jacks, cable tension regulators and gas-operated inertia harness reels.The architectural products made by the company meet the demand for controlling all levels and types of ventilation in buildings, whether through design necessity, climatic conditions or safety aspects, Suddarth says. Morse U.K., with its Clearline range of window control systems, has unrivaled experience in resolving ventilation needs. Products include control operators, chain and screw jack openers, window systems and electronic power-line actuators.

The company also offers “motorcycle” chain for industrial applications.

Chain products are produced at Imo Industries Pte Ltd., based in Singapore. The company has a history of chain manufacturing that dates back to 1970. Prior to Imo, the company was branding chain under the name of ACME. The same technique is currently applied and improved to manufacture a wide variety of Imo chains. They include API oilfield chains, conveyor chains, chains with attachments, agricultural chains, chains with hollow pins, leaf chains, Deco pin-over chains, oil-less chains, motorcycle chains, high-temperature-resistant chains and triple-speed conveyor chains.

Global Partnership

According to Suddarth, the company’s products are in demand around the globe. Sales, he says, are equally divided among Europe, the United States and the Pacific Rim countries. While the company is privately held, Suddarth says, its parent, Colfax Corporation, has filed papers for an initial public offering of stock. The offering date has not yet been established, he says.

The company considers itself global in scope with 11 manufacturing facilities located around the globe. Plants are located in Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, China, Singapore, Sweden and the United States. The global locations allow the company to provide local supplies of products, as well as design and technical services no matter where the customer is located. Besides its customers, Suddarth said, the company values its associates and invests in human capital through training hundreds of employees each year on the Colfax Business System.

“Our mission,” he said, “is to be the preferred global partner to our customers for these systems. We focus every day on improving our quality, delivery and costs.”

In the future, Morse hopes to continue to grow its business both organically and through acquisitions, Suddarth says. Also, the company plans to continue its emphasis on research and development. “We have a lot of products in development,” says Suddarth. Right now, he states, the company is working on a new electronic joystick that is both aesthetically pleasing and ergonomically functional; a new transmission control system; new electronic steering systems; and enhanced-performance after-market engine parts. Most, he noted, are products already in existence; the company is just bringing them to the next generation: “Sometimes, we replace mechanical technology with electronic technology. Other times, we sharply improve the features of a product or reduce the cost.”

We do this, he says, because today’s user demands more. “Commercial customers and consumers want the same pleasing benefits. They want a control to be both aesthetically pleasing, functional and competitively priced. This wasn’t always possible,” he says, adding, “People today are amazed at how much more they can get for their money.”