Citi Turns 200: Industrial Promise on U.S. West Coast
August 17, 2012 09:00 AM
In celebration of Citigroup's 200th Anniversary, we are sharing stories from our rich history here on this blog. The 22nd installation below covers how emerging technologies in the electronics and aircraft sectors lead to the establishment of a specialized aerospace division. Read the 21st installment on how National City Bank extended its operations beyond Europe and Asia to the Middle East and Africa, here.
Industrial promise on U.S. West Coast
Emerging technologies in the electronics and aircraft sectors lead to the establishment of a specialized aerospace division
Edward Palmer joined First National City Bank from the New York Trust Co. in 1959, at the age of 42. "I suppose nobody had ever come into the bank in a mature position like that," he recalled almost two decades later. In his previous job, Palmer had become an old hand in servicing oil industry clients in Texas and Oklahoma.
At the time Palmer came to First National City Bank, its national banking group was divided into eastern and western divisions. "The overseas things were getting stirred up a little bit," Palmer said. "But it was kind of a side-show in a way. The main event was the domestic banking business and the wholesale banking business and that was the thing I knew something of." Palmer soon landed a job running the West Coast district of the western division, servicing companies in states such as California, Oregon, and Washington. He later ended up running the entire western division.
This was the period when the United States was racing to land a man on the moon. "The big development was electronics. And that was all in California," Palmer said. "We had a wonderful little group in the western group ... we in effect discovered the concept of the electronics business." Emerging companies at the time included Ampex Corp., an early pioneer in videotape technology, and Varian Industries, which developed electromagnetic equipment, and was one of the first businesses based in what is now known as Silicon Valley in northern California. Another emerging Silicon Valley company was Litton Industries, an electron-tube manufacturer who also produced electric typewriters and microwave ovens. "That was the kind of historical event that took place there," Palmer said.
Palmer noted the presence of major aircraft manufacturers such as Lockheed Corp. and Douglas Aircraft Co., as well as the military's North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), recently established in partnership with Canada. Since the electronics and aircraft industries were both involved in space-related activities, the bank soon created an aerospace division offering specialized services to this promising sector.