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.