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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Companies that Have Completely Changed Direction

   
Author Topic: Companies that Have Completely Changed Direction
Alcon
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One of my friends is a business major and part of an assignment for her is to come up with a list of companies and corporations that have completely changed direction. In other words they started out making one thing and switched to making something completely different. She asked me and my girlfriend if we could think of any. Well at first I thought I could, but after thinking about it... I can't come up with any! But it's really bothering me now, it's one of those things where I'm sure there are a bunch on the tip of my tongue... but... but... they're not there. Anyone know of any? This is driving me crazy...
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King of Men
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IBM. Apple to a lesser extent.
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Mucus
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3M started out in mining, now lots of stuff
Berkshire Hathaway was textiles, now insurance mainly
Hudson's Bay Company was fur trading in Canada, now department store

Edit to add: Apparently Nintendo was founded as a playing card company and had ventures in taxis, hotels, and food before finally doing well in electronic games

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Speed
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There used to be a company called Hatrack that was all about doing other peoples' homework for them, but then they radically changed directions. [Razz]

(alternately, check out the Final Jeopardy question here.)

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Nighthawk
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Coleco stands for "Connecticut Leather Company".

quote:
Coleco originally sold leather supplies to shoemakers. This led to a business in leather craft kits in the 1950s which led to the sale of plastic wading pools in the 1960s. The leather part of the business was then sold off.

Under CEO Arnold Greenberg, the company entered the video game console business with the Telstar in 1976.


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breyerchic04
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I guess it's not a complete direction change, but Abercrombie and Fitch.
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brojack17
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Pixar sold their high end graphics computer for computer animation at first, but they always had the dream to put out feature length animations. George Lucus sold them when they wanted to break away form the hardware side (thank goodness).
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brojack17
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What was A&F before?

The Coleco thing is pretty cool. That's a huge change.

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Epictetus
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American Express began as a delivery company. Not really a complete turnaround since some of their business revolved around delivering securities, currencies and money orders, but they did ship goods too.
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breyerchic04
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Sporting and excursion goods.
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Glenn Arnold
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Tandy leather company became Radio Shack Corporation
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Sean Monahan
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This reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg joke:

"I think Pringles' initial intention was to make tennis balls. But on the day that the rubber was supposed to show up, a big truckload of potatoes arrived. But Pringles was a laid-back company. They said 'F*** it. Cut 'em up.'"

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ketchupqueen
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Cosco (now a division of Dorel.)

quote:
Cosco, a leading manufacturer of juvenile products and home/office furnishings, was originally established as the Columbus Specialty Company in 1935. Although it initially only produced metal matchboxes that held large wood matches, the company soon expanded its line to include various tinware items such as dustpans, breadboxes and sugar canisters. The Cosco brand name – a blend of COlumbus Specialty COmpany – was put into effect in 1941. While the company manufactured military equipment during the war, it developed the first full line of patented, all-metal household stools and an all-metal high chair – the first in an ever-expanding line of Cosco juvenile products – near the end of the decade.
quote:
Cosco Juvenile specializes in baby products ranging from car seats to strollers. In 1974 Cosco Juvenile was introduced to the world with its first product the Two Step step stool. Since then, they've gone on to win nation-wide recognition and several awards for providing innovative, quality car seats. In 1998, Cosco debuted the High Back Booster child seat which became number 1 on the US market in less than a year. Since 1935 Cosco has maintained the same high level of quality car seats that consumers of juvenile products have come to expect.

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Selran
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7-11 started out delivering ice for people's ice boxes.
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theCrowsWife
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
Tandy leather company became Radio Shack Corporation

You know, I'd never made the connection before, but I remember Tandy computers. I think our first computer was one, actually. I can't actually picture the logo, but I remember on boot-up it said, "America grew up trusting us. It still does." I can't find anything when I google that phrase, though.

The pages I found on Tandy/Radio Shack don't say how Tandy Leather Factory fits into the history, though. That company is still in business.

--Mel

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
IBM. Apple to a lesser extent.

Apple started as a custom manufacturer and designer of home computers... how have they changed directions? It seems like their expanded business model is mostly in line with that initial model. The only exception would be providing music downloads, and if that had become central to their model, then I might agree... are you saying that is central to their model, or that their practices in their traditional model have changed drastically, because they now outsource their manufacturing?
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Orincoro
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Lloyd's of London was originally (centuries ago) a coffee shop. Now it is a large firm of insurance brokers. The transition was surprisingly fluid though.

Gibson guitars was originally, I believe, an instrument repair shop, and now a leading manufacturer of various instruments and live music equipment- the company and founder are also sometimes credited (a bit over generously) as the inventor of electric pickups for the guitar and other instruments. In reality- they just utilized technology that was being developed at the turn of the century and helped popularize electric amplification.

Sega began as an arcade and computer manufacturer and became a software design company.

Saab and BMW began as airplane manufacturers.

Harley Davidson was originally a bicycle company (iirc).

FedEx was originally a privately owned air delivery service, and is now a dominant government contractor, and it also now controls myriad businesses in other names with related business models, including paper manufacturing, electronics, information systems, etc.

[ December 14, 2008, 11:50 AM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Alcon
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quote:
There used to be a company called Hatrack that was all about doing other peoples' homework for them, but then they radically changed directions. [Razz]

(alternately, check out the Final Jeopardy question here.)

It isn't my homework and the girl who's homework it is is already done with this part. This is purely to satisfy my own driving curiosity.

These are all really interesting, thanks every body! But I remember reading about a really drastic and absolutely ridiculous one in one of those weird and funny historical fact books. I can't for the life of me remember it though.

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
The pages I found on Tandy/Radio Shack don't say how Tandy Leather Factory fits into the history, though. That company is still in business.
From Wikipedia:
quote:
History

Tandy began in 1919 when two friends, Norton Hinckley and Dave L. Tandy, decided to start the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company, which sold leather shoe parts to shoe repair shops in the Fort Worth area. Tandy's son, Charles D. Tandy, turned it into a leathercraft company when shoe rationing in World War II almost killed the business, and later expanded into selling leather and tools to make such products as wallets. After a struggle over the company, which saw the Hinckley name dropped, Tandy made another change in 1963, when it bought the ailing RadioShack. It later sold off all non-electronic business.


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theCrowsWife
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I read that, but it doesn't say who bought Tandy Leather Factory or whether it was just split off, or what. The article says they sold off all non-electronic business, but gives no further details.

--Mel

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Dagonee
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It's not quite the same, but Accenture originally started as a consulting division within Arthur Anderson in the 50s. It split off in the late 80s as Anderson Consulting (it was still linked to Arthur Anderson). In the late 90s/early 00s, it severed all ties and changed it's name.

Then Enron happened and Arthur Anderson went under. For at least the last decade of Arthur Anderson's existence, the Consulting arm was bigger/more profitable.

KPMG did a similar thing with KPMG Consulting (now Bearing Point).

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scifibum
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Aperture Science, Inc.

quote:
From 1957 to 1975, the company was almost entirely dedicated to the development of shower curtains. In 1978, Cave Johnson contracted mercury poisoning while inventing a deadly rubber sheeting injected with mercury, which would be put into shower curtains that would be given to each member of the House Naval Appropriations committee. By 1979, both of Cave Johnson's kidneys had failed, and he had severe brain damage and "could not be convinced that time was not flowing backwards". While dying, Johnson created a 3-tier program which he thought would continue Aperture Science's success "far into the fast-approaching distant past."

The first tier was the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver, which would be used to interrupt the life-saving Heimlich maneuver. The second was the Take-A-Wish Foundation, which would take gifts from terminally ill children and award them to healthy (but wish deprived) adults. The third tier was, in Johnson's opinion, the least well thought out. It was described as "some kind of rip in the fabric of space", which, in Johnson's words, "would help with the shower curtains I guess". Soon after, Johnson expired.


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Nighthawk
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quote:
Aperture Science, Inc.
Good one! [ROFL]
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Orincoro
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[ROFL] Did you come up with that? I recognize "take a wish" from the daily show, and other elements from Douglas Adams, for instance, the obsession with time flowing backwards, and the poisoning of the inventor leading to hilarious results.
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scifibum
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Credit goes to valve software. Search for "Aperture Science".
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Artemisia Tridentata
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No one has mentioned Yahama. It was a Piano company. Their logo is three piano tuning forks.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Yamaha is still an instrument company (and much more, of course).
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Artemisia Tridentata
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Yah, I knew that. But, you have to admit that from pianos to motorcycles involved a pretty substantial paradigm shift. Now if it had just been from Trombones to motorcycles, I might not have mentioned it. Baroom!
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Lisa
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CRC. Chemical Rubber Company. But now they're the publisher of all sorts of math and science guides. I still have my CRC Math one.
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Farmgirl
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
Tandy leather company became Radio Shack Corporation

I didn't know that either! Even though the former "Tandy Leather" store in our city is now a Radio Shack. (I just thought it got bought out by another business)
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