Union Carbide Corp.

Part 6: The Rise Of Global Companies Built On Invention

When first lady Mamie Eisenhower ceremonially pushed the USS Nautilus into the Thames River in 1954, ushering in the atomic submarine era, the vessel carried 140 types of springs made by one Connecticut company alone.

It was no fluke for Barnes Group Inc., then known as Associated Spring Corp. The Bristol-based company, founded 97 years earlier, was in the midst of a massive expansion, turning itself into an international industrial conglomerate with acquisitions, factory construction and new technology developments.

These were not mere metal coils of the bedspring variety, but engineered products made by Barnes, largely for the auto industry. Within a decade Barnes would list...