The History of the Duchossois Group
The Duchossois Group (TDG) is a privately held business formed in 1983 to manage the diversified companies owned by the family. These companies currently consist of The Chamberlain Group, Inc. (residential and commercial access control products), Chamberlain Manufacturing Company (defense products), AMX LLC (command, control and communications products) HeathCo (motion-activated lighting, door chimes and wireless lighting controls), Milestone AV Technologies (audio-visual mounting solutions and projection screens), Brivo (internet based access control systems), Duchossois Capital Partners (private equity) and Duchossois Technology Partners (early stage venture capital). TDG also holds strategic interests in Churchill Downs, Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN). TDG is a multi-national corporation that carries the strength, respect and financial stability of a corporation with over $2 billion in assets under management.
The history of the Company can be traced back to a small rail car repair facility in the south suburbs of Chicago. Founded in 1916 by A.J. Thrall as the Union Wagon Company, the firm sold used and reconditioned rail car components. For the next 30 years, the company continued its modest growth. After WWII, Dick Duchossois and Jerry Thrall joined the organization with Duchossois becoming president in 1952. Under Duchossois’ direction, Thrall began building new freight cars. Thrall continued to grow during the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. In 1980 Craig Duchossois became President while Dick Duchossois went to run the recently acquired Chamberlain Manufacturing Corporation. In the early ‘80s Thrall acquired five of its competitors. At its peak in the ‘90s, Thrall operated manufacturing plants in Illinois, Georgia, the United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic with a capacity of over 16,000 freight cars per year, more than 3,000 employees, and sales in excess of $750 million per year. In 2001, Thrall merged into Trinity Industries and TDG became Trinity’s largest shareholder.
In 1906, Andrew Chamberlain started the Waterloo Rope Company, and in 1914 the Company changed its name to Chamberlain Machine Works, later becoming Chamberlain Manufacturing Corporation. The original company made ropes, parts for cream separators, and a variety of consumer products. At the start of World War II, Chamberlain, like many other American companies, halted production of consumer products to focus on national defense supplies. The quality of its products was so high that after WWII, Chamberlain was asked to continue production of defense supplies for the US Army. The Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania, carried on the Chamberlain Manufacturing defense tradition until its sale to General Dynamics in May of 2006.
In addition to the defense products, Chamberlain resumed making products for the home, such as awnings, carports, aluminum refrigerator shelves and public address systems. The Chamberlain Group (CGI) was created in 1984 as the consumer products division of the Company. Today, The Chamberlain Group is the world’s largest manufacturer of residential and commercial door operators, access control products, and gate operators. Chamberlain’s headquarters has been in the current Elmhurst location since 1967.
TDG is also known for its association with Arlington Park, a premier thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Arlington opened its doors in 1927 and Dick Duchossois purchased the property in 1983. After a devastating fire in 1985, Dick opened the magnificently rebuilt track to world acclaim in 1989. In 2000, Arlington Park merged with Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) and TDG became Churchill's largest stockholder.
In December of 2004, TDG acquired Brivo Systems, LLC. Brivo is a software-as-a-service (SAAS) provider of access control systems that enable businesses to control physical access to offices, warehouses, remote/unmanned buildings, or sensitive areas. Prior to the acquisition, Brivo was an investment in our early stage venture capital fund, Duchossois Technology Partners.
In March of 2005, AMX LLC was acquired. AMX is a worldwide leader in advanced control and automation technology for commercial and residential markets. AMX products enable users to centrally manage and control a variety of audio/video, environmental and communications technologies.
In August of 2007, TDG acquired DESA's Heath/Zenith division to expand its position in the consumer products market. HeathCo offers a broad selection of specialty electrical products including motion-activated lighting, door chimes and wireless lighting control.
In May of 2008, Milestone AV Technologies was acquired. Milestone is North America's leading producer of mounting solutions sold principally under the Chief and Sanus Systems brand names. In April of 2011, Milestone AV Technologies acquired Da-Lite, the brand-leader in projection screens and related display solutions. Milestone and Da-Lite sell their products through professional AV dealers, system integrators and major consumer retailers.
And…we are not done yet!