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The Young Man and His Vocation (1925-26): Lesson 7: Manufacturing

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 24, 2011

For background and links to chapters in this series, see here

LESSON VII

MANUFACTURING

Manufacturing in its most complex phases requires such a diversity of ability and service that it is scarcely correct to call it a vocation; it is in reality an industry of production in which many workers bring together their diverse types of skill in a co-operative effort to produce some commodity. The size of the plant and the materials produced will determine the nature of the organization. The following departments are frequently found: management, designing, engineering, foremen, workmen, office, production experts, shipping, salesmen, and sometimes additional ones.

The great manufacturing industries of the day have been built up by the use of machinery to do work that was once done by hand. Raw materials of the mine and the farm have been so cheaply converted into the numerous articles of commerce that people of moderate means can now enjoy comforts that could formerly be had only by the rich. New inventions in manufacturing have absolutely transformed the industries of the world in the last generation.

It has been estimated that the products of manufactories in the United States each year have a value equal to a pavement of silver dollars four feet wide and reaching five times around the world. The growth in manufacturing has been phenomenal during the last generation. Charles M. Schwab tells us that the amount of steel produced in thsi country has increased since 1880 from less than one million tons in one year to more than forty million tons in 1917. In 1886 the first steel girder for a skyscraper was rolled; today more than five million tons of steel a year are used for buildings. There are about 2,000 shoe factories with over $200,000,000 of invested capital. There is hardly a town in the country without some kind of manufacturing establishment, and many communities depend for their support almost entirely on factories.

The difference in the methods of living between the savage and the civilized man is made possible chiefly by manufactured articles. Clothing, house furnishings, and food are made from raw materials into articles of use and beauty. The savage, dressed in his breech cloth and living in a cave, may be surrounded by all of the materials used by the most fashionably dressed lady living in a mansion. In the one case the material is in the raw state, in the other, it has been manufactured into more useful forms.

Kinds of Manufacturing

The industries classed under manufacturing are exceedingly varied. They include the making of all kinds of building materials, textiles, clothing, machinery, automobiles, furniture, foods, books, instruments, chemicals, etc. These materials are often localized because of easily available raw materials, power, or labor. The manufacture of textiles in the United States has been confined largely to a few cities in the eastern states; many of the important iron and steel manufacturing establishments have bene built up around Pittsburgh; and most of the automobiles are made in Michigan or surrounding states.

Advantages of Manufacturing to the Community

Any good, red-blooded M.I.A. young man can have no worthier ambition in a business way than to build up a manufacturing establishment that will use raw materials, employ labor, and produce articles to increase the comfort and welfare of the people. These establishments are usually of great advantage to the community in which they are built.

Cache Valley, Utah, was for years considered to have fertile soil and the land sold at a good price, but when four beet sugar factories and a number of milk condenseries and pea canneries were established in the valley, land practically doubled in value in a comparatively short time and the general prosperity of the region was considerably increased. the establishment of such an industry as a canning factory in a region has often completely transformed it. These factories which use the products of the farm are particularly valuable to rural communities, although they are more frequently established in or near cities where labor is available.

In some of the older factory communities of this country and Europe, conditions have been far from ideal from the point of view of the workers. Unsanitary surroundings, long hours, and low wages have often kept the workers down to a miserable existence. Helpful legislation, labor organizations, improved machinery, and a number of other forces are at present working to correct some of these evils. The profit-sharing system adopted by a number of manufacturing establishments is doing considerable to increase the efficiency of labor and to raise the profits of the business. These will react to the benefit of the workers.

Scientific Management in Manufacturing

The rapid rise of the Untied states in the production of certain manufactured articles is due largely to the adoption of the most up-to-date methods and machinery. Marden tells us that the great Pillsbury Flour Mills of Minnesota put in forty thousand dollars worth of new machinery, but it was no sooner set running than someone invented a better process. The proprietors instantly ripped up the new and bought the newest. The superintendent of the Massachusetts factory where a thousand looms were at work said to Josiah strong, who was visiting, “Do you see that machine by your side? Well, the one that stood there twelve months ago has been supplanted three times during the year.”

In manufacturing, perhaps more than in any other kind of human endeavor, it is necessary scientifically to examine every process to see that it is working with the greatest possible efficiency and refinement. All unnecessary movements and waste of energy must be eliminated. If the efficiency of one thousand hands can be increased ten per cent by improved methods, it is the same as saving the work of one hundred hands. This soon counts up in money.

During Mr. Carnegie’s active days in manufacturing steel, he had a department costing eighty thousand dollars a year which had no other object than to study the workings of the plan with the view to improve its operations. This department did not add a dollar directly to the earnings of the business, but it enabled Mr. Carnegie to locate weak points, the strengthening of which greatly increased the profits.

Personal Element

The history of a successful manufacturing enterprise is frequently the history of one man. One can scarcely think of the refining of oil without thinking of Rockefeller; the National Cash register brings up the name of Patterson; the beginnings of the steel industry make us think of Carnegie; and the Bethlehem Steel Company always calls to our minds Charles M. Schwab. We probably have no more striking illustration of what one man can do than the work of that industrial wizard, Henry Ford, who has built up a manufacturing enterprise which has probably never been equaled int eh history of the world. One cannot visit his factories where 7,000 automobiles are being turned out each day without being impressed with the great efficiency of the organization. The happiness and prosperity of the workmen, and high value received by the purchaser of the product. Surely a manufacturer of this kind is a great benefactor of the human race. One industry nearer at home which might be mentioned is the Morgan Canning Company built up largely as a result of the industry, the frugality, and the business ability of the Anderson Brothers.

The price necessary to pay for success is illustrated by the following statements by Mr. Schwag explaining his rapid promotion from a grocery clerk at ten dollars a month to the presidency of the Bethlehem Steel Company, at a salary of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year:

“In the first place I always stood on my own feet – always relied upon myself. There was one thing I discovered very early – that it would be well to make myself indispensable, instead of continually looking at the clock. I thought and dreamed of nothing else but the steel works. In my own house I rigged up a laboratory and studied chemistry in the evenings, determined that there should be nothing in the manufacture of steel that I would not know. I attributed my first great success to hard and active work. I found that those who were quickest were those to be promoted. An employer picks out his assistants from the best informed, most competent, and conscientious. A man, to be successful even as a specialist, should have a good general knowledge and therefore ought to read and study much, a well informed man is always the better for it. All through my life I have read and studied.”

Andrew Carnegie, one of the greatest of American manufacturers sums up as follows his rules for business success:

“Aim for the highest; never enter a bar-room; do not touch liquor; never speculate; never indorse beyond your surplus cash fund; make the firm’s interest yours; break orders only to save owners; concentrate; put all your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket; expenditures always within revenue; lastly, be not impatient, for, as Emerson says: no one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourselves!”

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS

1. Discuss the relation of manufacturing to the trades, to business, to engineering, to mining, to agriculture, to transportation, and to scientific management.
2. Discuss the growth of manufacturing during the past century and what has brought it about.
3. Name the kinds of manufacturing carried on in your town, country, county and state.
4. What are some of the advantages to a community of a manufacturing establishment?
5. Name as many great manufacturers as you can, and give some of the reasons for their success.



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