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John W. Sweetland

AB '58 Econ; AM '59
The Winsford Corporation

The Winsford Corporation’s Forbes division manufactures a wide range of products for the international hotel and hospitality industries. A signature product is the brass bellman’s cart, or “Birdcage”, found in 5-star hotels around the world. Its Harloff division’s products are marketed to the medical industry, hospitals and other health-related facilities, primarily in the United States. The company is privately owned by Sweetland’s three sons and its manufacturing plants are located in Ontario, CA and Colorado Springs, CO.

After graduation from U-M, Sweetland joined American Cement Corporation as an economist, becoming President of its Midwestern “Peerless” division in 1964. In 1968, he took a leave of absence to serve as Deputy Mayor of Detroit under Jerome Cavanagh, following the devastating riots of 1967. In late 1968, he was elected Corporate Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and a member of the Board of Directors. In 1970, he was elected President of Shareholders Capital Corporation, an international investment management firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, London and Munich.

In 1975, Sweetland and his partner formed Somerset Management Group, a management and financial advisory firm to major lenders – banks, insurance companies, etc. Its goal was to build a private equity base. By the early 80’s, Somerset had established cement import operations on both the east and west coasts through its National Cement (Florida) and Pacific Coast Cement (California) divisions. The two companies combined created by far largest importer in the U.S., if not the world. Both operations were sold to international cement firms in 1990.

Sweetland served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. He also served as a Trustee of Union Theological Seminary (New York, NY), Woodrow Wilson Foundation (Princeton, NJ) and Sheldon Jackson College (Sitka, AK). He currently serves on the International Advisory Board of Direct Relief Foundation (Santa Barbara, CA).

He was a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee (1997-2012) and a founding force for the Economics Leadership Council. In 1997, Sweetland endowed a major gift that allowed U-M to establish the Gayle Morris Sweetland Center for Writing. He also endowed two chairs in the Department of Economics. The John W. Sweetland Chair in International Economics was the first ever endowed Chair in the Department and the Shorey Peterson Chair in Industrial Organization and Corporate Finance was endowed in honor of his most memorable professor.

While at Michigan, Sweetland’s economic concentration was in industrial organization. His subsequent corporate experience included extensive work in the U.S. and abroad in securities regulation for the Securities and Exchange Commission and its German equivalent, BaFin, trade matters with the International Trade Commission, and corporate matters with the Department of Justice.