When Edward O. Boshell, 51, became president of Westinghouse Air Brake two years ago, he found the till full of cash. There was more than $25 million in "excess working capital" on which the company was earning virtually nothing. Boshell decided to spend it to "expand and diversify the company's business as quickly as possible." In short order, he bought: ¶Virginia's Melpar,Inc. (industrial research).
¶ Milwaukee's Le Roi Co. (portable air compressors and internal-combustion engines for the oil industry).
¶Famed old George E. Failing Supply Co. (world's largest producer of portable rigs for oil exploration).
The purchases used up most...