Corporations: Living on Breakdowns

The bang of a blown-out spark plug or the crunch of a bent fender makes the U.S. motorist fume, but it is music to Gulf & Western Industries, Inc. As a leader in the U.S.'s $7 billion-a-year market for auto parts, G. & W. lives on breakdowns and damage. It lives well: since 1958, it has multiplied its annual sales 22-fold to $175 million, acquired 57 companies that make products as diverse as guitars, jet-engine parts and survival equipment for spacemen. Last week, in its most ambitious diversification, G. & W. made...

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