CORPORATIONS: Machine Maker for the West

During the war, California Shipbuilding Corp. built 467 ships worth some $1,000,000,000. But shortly after V-J day, Calship's payroll dropped to 800 from its wartime peak of 42,500; its 14 ways were sold for lumber. Calship President John A. McCone and Board Chairman Stephen Bechtel found themselves heading a company reportedly worth $14,000,000, most of it in cash. With nothing to make, they wanted to find a use for their cash.

They found their answer in Sunnyvale's Joshua Hendy Iron Works, largest machinery maker in the West Coast. California's famed "Six Companies," which built Boulder Dam and owned Calship, already...