One of the last remaining powerful U.S. conglomerates, United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is the parent company of Pratt & Whitney, one of the most famous names in jet engines; Sikorsky, a leader in helicopter production, including the famous (or infamous) Black Hawks; Carrier Corp., the largest supplier of heating and air conditioning systems; Otis, the world’s largest elevator company; and Hamilton Sundstrand, a leading producer of aerospace products. UTC also has a large fire-safety products business based on its acquisition of British firms Chubb PLC and Kidde PLC.
UTC, which began with the amalgamation of various aviation companies during the 1920s, has had severe ups and downs over the years, especially at Pratt & Whitney. The engine maker once ruled the industry, then suffered a series of technical mishaps and fell behind competitors like General Electric. Since the early 1990s, UTC has remade itself, putting more emphasis on selling non-military products in foreign markets, where it has also shifted a substantial portion of its production and employment.
The company’s restructuring and overseas shift have worsened relations with its unions and with communities—especially in Connecticut—where it has cut back or shut down longstanding operations. Over the past two decades, UTC and its subsidiaries have paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and penalties in environmental cases.