What to take from Manitowoc Foodservice renaming itself as Welbilt Inc.

A picture of a crane. What’s not well known is that the formerly-known Manitowoc Foodservice was split off from Manitowoc Cranes

In what is probably the finishing move to distinguish itself from the crane company of the same name, Manitowoc Foodservice, the company that’s known for Manitowoc (the ice machines), Delfield, Frymaster, Convotherm, and more, is now called Welbilt Inc. ever since the company split off from the same-named crane company last March. And even though the name change on the stock ticker to NYSE:WBT won’t happen until March 6th (so if you do own foodservice stock, enjoy NYSE:MFS while you still can), it still doesn’t ignore the fact that this move is one year too late.

Takeaway #1: This is a way to fully focus on foodservice

The surprising fact about Manitowoc is that it didn’t start on foodservice. Actually, the company’s root didn’t even start on cranes. The company started its roots, as a matter of fact, in the world of shipbuilding.

While you can continue reading the history, at the end of the day the foodservice division was most likely always going to be second fiddle to the cranes division (the shipbuilding division was absorbed by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri in 2008). And while technically Carl Icahn was the reason why the company split, it was a decision that was bound to happen sooner or later as the crane division was struggling while the foodservice division showing signs of improvement. With the addition of selling of Kysor Panel Systems and the such last year, this is the closing of a–in a way–roller-coaster of a ride for the company.

Takeaway #2: Exciting news in an ordinarily quiet world of restaurant equipment

Let’s face it. In the world of restaurant equipment, the news isn’t much more than restructuring this, this person retiring, or this person adding. But once-in-a-while, such as Carlisle getting San Jamar and Middleby (Blodgett) buying Marsal, it gets a lot of people talking–especially in a world where brand elasticity is practically nonexistent.