Expanding into new opportunities

The space race was on, with the Johnson Service Company providing mission control instrumentation for the Apollo and Saturn programs through the 1960s. As the decade drew to a close, company President Fred Brengel led the company into its own new world. 

The company expanded its technological capabilities through a series of acquisitions, including Penn Controls in 1968, with plants and subsidiaries in Canada, the Netherlands, Argentina and Japan. In 1972, building control innovation continued as Johnson introduced the industry’s first mini-computer system dedicated to building control. The JC/80 could reduce fuel use by as much as 30 percent, highly desirable in an era of rising oil prices. 

In 1974, the company took on a new name—Johnson Controls. In 1978, Johnson Controls took on leadership in a new field, acquiring Globe-Union, the largest U.S. manufacturer of automotive batteries.

Three years after the merger, sales surpassed $1 billion. Diversification continued in 1985, when the company acquired Hoover Universal and entered the automotive seating and plastic container industries. With the acquisition later that year of automotive seating supplier Ferro Manufacturing, Johnson Controls was now the leading independent supplier of automotive seats to the original equipment manufacturers.