Mercury meets Brunswick
The 1950s were growth years for Mercury Marine, and its founder, Carl Kiekhaefer, allegedly received dozens of merger and acquisition offers from larger companies.
Kiekhaefer was dedicated to and possessive of the company he built and, while he understood the benefits of merging with a financially stronger partner, he stoically resisted. However, near the decade's end, Kiekhaefer's resolve began to crumble from the continuous waves of prospective partners.
Suitors included a virtual "who's who" of American business, including Borg-Warner, Motorola, Brunswick, AMF and even Chrysler Corporation. Solid proposal eventually flowed from AMF, Chrysler and Brunswick Corporation. Brunswick became a frontrunner, not just monetarily but also because Brunswick president Ted Bensinger seemed determined to buy Mercury and was willing to structure a deal that provided Kiekhaefer latitude in running the company.
On Aug. 1, 1961, Mercury became a division of Brunswick Corporation. The relationship between Kiekhaefer and Brunswick proved contentious, and the Mercury founder eventually resigned and founded a new company: Kiekhaefer Aeromarine. Following Kiekhaefer's death in 1983, his son, Fred, purchased Aeromarine and later sold it to Brunswick Corporation, bringing all of Carl Kiekhaefer's innovations back under one roof. Today, Mercury Marine remains a powerful entity of Brunswick Corporation.