1998 was a year of expansion, acquisition and product development for LINCOLN ELECTRIC®. In the global arena, LINCOLN ELECTRIC® opened an electrode plant in Shanghai, China and acquired Uhrhan & Schwill, of Essen, Germany, a market-leading designer and installer of pipe welding systems for pipe mills. In addition, LINCOLN ELECTRIC® secured its own aluminum wire capability and brand through acquisition of Canadian company, INDALCO®, a global leader in manufacture of aluminum wire and rod. In other global happenings, LINCOLN ELECTRIC® secured a 50% stake in AS Kaynak, a leading Turkish producer of welding consumables and opened a distribution center in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Products abounded with more than 23 new products and services introduced to the market in 1998, including ARCLINK® the arc welding industry’s first communications protocol, at the annual American Welding Society Exposition.
In 1998, LINCOLN ELECTRIC® also distributed its 65th consecutive bonus to employees and achieved the fifth consecutive year of record financial performance. In investor news, shareholders approved the formation of a holding company, LINCOLN ELECTRIC® Holdings, Inc. With this transition came a conversion from dual class stock (voting and non-voting) to a single-class, all voting stock. This action doubled the number of outstanding shares.