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Often recognized for its strength as an electronics manufacturer, Samsung has been involved in a wide variety of industries. As one of South Korea's most powerful conglomerates it was provided preferential treatment by the government and offered extended bank loans at premium rates. While Samsung began as an exporting venture with forty employees specializing in the selling of fish, vegetables, and fruit to China, it became tremendously successful by branching into the industries of technology, machinery, chemicals, engineering, automobiles, and a variety of others.[1] [2]

Formed in 1938, Samsung's head offices are based in Seoul, South Korea, with subsidiaries around the world. It currently ranks No. two amongst electronics companies on the 2007 Fortune 500 list and sits 46th overall. Samsung's 2006 revenues are listed US$89 billion and it currently employs 138,000 people.[3]

Samsung means "Three Stars" in Korean.

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[edit] History

[edit] Establishing Samsung

Based in South Korea, Samsung was formed in 1938 by Lee Byung-chul as a venture in export. With the formation of Samsung Electronics thirty years later the company grew into a multi-billion dollar empire.

Byung-chul was the son of a wealthy landowner and attended Waseda University in Tokyo, but failed to complete his degree. He used his family's inheritance to begin a rice mill that never succeeded to get off the ground. So instead, he turned his efforts to the trucking industry. A decade later he had established Samsung, which then had its own flourmills, confectionary machines, manufacturing, and sales operations.[4]

[edit] Two Decades of Diversification

In the 1970s, Samsung began to launch investments in the heavy, chemical, and petrochemical industries. It even entered the world of shipbuilding, as was the case with other Korean conglomerates like Daewoo. Samsung Heavy Industries Co. was created in 1974. Samsung Shipbuilding Co. and Samsung Precision Co. were established in 1977.

In the 1970s, South Korea was struggling to develop its own natural resources and raw materials, so the country established its own engineering company. Samsung decided to buy out Korean Engineering to diversify its holdings in the 1980s. It soon became a leader in building refinery, petrochemical, industrial, and environmental plants throughout Asia.

With the arrival of the 1980s, Samsung stepped deep into the world of information technology. It was developing aerospace technology, data systems, and the research facilities necessary to develop semiconductors, high polymer chemicals, genetic engineering, and optical telecommunications.

Lee Byung-chul died November 9, 1987. His son Kun-Hee Lee succeeded him as Samsung's new chairman.

[edit] Surviving Economic Hardships

The early '90s brought significant economic challenges for many Korean businesses, but Samsung initially fought its way through by developing a new management strategy. This new strategy focused on "quality first" and it allowed for many of Samsung's products to be ranked high in the global market.[5] However, the economic struggles of South Korea were not over—in fact, the worst was yet to come. The year 1997 saw the destruction or restructuring of nearly every company in Korea. Samsung decreased personnel by 50,000 employees, reduced the number of its affiliated companies, and managed to survive and eventually thrive again.[6] It was during this time that Samsung's highly successful Heavy Industries was sold to Volvo AB of Sweden. Volvo incorporated Samsung's equipment and technology and renamed the company Volvo Construction Equipment Korea Ltd.[7]

[edit] Major Construction Projects

Besides its popularity with electronics consumers, Samsung has been a part of many construction projects, most notably the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia and the Burj Dubai in Dubai.

Two separate companies built the Petronas towers: the Hazama Corp. and Samsung. The towers were completed in 1998. Hazama was in charge of building Tower One, while Samsung was working on Tower Two. The two companies were competing to see who would finish first. Samsung won, despite the fact that it started one month later than Hazama.

Petronas is 88 floors high, constructed largely of concrete and modeled after motifs in Islamic art. Instead of being built of steel, which was difficult to import, the Towers were constructed with super high reinforced concrete. This concrete was often used by Asian contractors, especially in larger structures, as it is more resistant to winds at higher altitudes reducing sway.

[edit] The Company Today

After the turn of the century Samsung continued its focus on digital technology. It currently spends US$1.7 billion on research and development to ensure its products maintain a high level of quality to compete with leading electronics manufacturers.[8]

Kun-Hee Lee remains Samsung's Chairman and CEO.

[edit] Equipment List

[edit] References

  1. History. Samsung. 2008-09-09.
  2. History. Samsung. 2008-09-09.
  3. Fortune 500. Money CNN. 2008-09-09.
  4. Timeline History. Samsung. 2008-09-09.
  5. Timeline History. Samsung. 2008-09-09.
  6. Timeline History. 2008-09-09.
  7. History. Volvo. 2008-09-09.
  8. Timeline History. Samsung. 2008-09-09.