Revolutionizing an Industry

G. B. VAN BLARICOM March 1 1909

Revolutionizing an Industry

G. B. VAN BLARICOM March 1 1909

Revolutionizing an Industry

Vol XVII

No 5

G. B. VAN BLARICOM

BORN in a blacksmith shop in a small village in 1847, to-day the biggest industrial concern in Canada, with one-quarter of its annual profits given to educational, charitable and religious causes.

Starting with a meagre investment: now capitalized at twelve million dollars, the greatest corporation in its line under the British flag, encircling the globe with warerooms, factories and representatives.

The second largest industry of its character in the world, backed by the strongest selling force and the finest system of organization.

Employing an army of 3,500 mechanics, and about 7,500 persons in all, with an annual wage bill running into the millions.

The first Canadian institution to launch a mower and also a reaper in the Dominion, and the first to place a self-binder on the home and foreign market.

The pioneer in extending the export trade of a colony to practically all grain growing countries on earth, and more widely known a dozen years ago than the land, which produced the men who gave to the great enterprise its birth.

V hat a wonderful narrative ! Can imagination picture a more spectacular or facile pen treat of a more thrilling theme than the news story of the development and expansion of the Massey-ITarris Company, with headquarters in Toronto and branch offices, working forces and emporiums in every cereal centre of two hemispheres.

With immense factories in Toronto, Brantford and Woodstock, wherein thousands of artisans earn their daily bread, the enlargement has been so vast that the company, which is a close corporation, has recently found it necessary to increase its paid-up capital by four million dollars.

But the past is only an index of what the future has in store. At very heavy expense the company maintains a designing department where between thirty and forty of the highest skilled specialists obtainable are employed, solely to work out new ideas and practical inventions that have both time and labor-saving features.

It is a long road from the first reaper ever turned out, away back in 1852. bv the late Hart A. Massey, in the \ il lage of Newcastle, Ontario, to the eight-foot self-binder which cuts

and binds the golden grain on thousands of Canadian farms.

What miracles the self-binder has wrought ! It does the work of four or five men and does it more rapidly and effectively, for, in the days of the old reaping machine, it required that many hands alone to bind the straw. In warmer climes the stripper of the Massey-Harris Company accomplishes even greater wonders and performs the labor of a dozen or more helpers at one operation. The stripper, which may be found by thousands on the broad acres of Argentina, Africa and Australia, pulls the heads off the grain, threshes, cleans, separates and bags it by one continuous process. In hot, dry countries straw is left on the field and burned or plowed under, it being of little or no use owing to the absence of winters. In more northern lands grain does not ripen so fast and a binder has to be used instead of a stripper. If grain were not bound in sheaves and stooked there is so much moisture in the berry that it would sweat and mustiness result.

The rush of the masses to the great cities and the consequent scarcity of help and high wages have driven many a tiller of the soil to the verge of distraction, and agricultural implements with their many laboiysaving devices have played no unimportant part in the progress and uplift of the world. 1 )ther instances of the amazing advancement of the times, outside of the mower, the reaper, the binder and the stripper, are the disc seed drill, the corn binder, the hay loader, the manure spreader, etc. Thus, farming has been robbed of its monotony and drudgery, and nowhere in the limitless field of mechanical endeavor has man witnessed greater strides than in die line of agricultural equipment.

To-day we read columns about and witness the manifold wonders and triumphs of the telephone, the electric light, the phonograph, the automobile. X-rays, the kinetoscope, wireless telegraphy and the aeroplane. This is because most of us live in the congested centres, and these things 20

brought to our very doors, are so familiar that they cease to excite more than passing interest. We accept them as part of the manifestation of creative genius—the fruit of civilization—but, if we had placed before our eyes a farm and the means of cultivation, harvesting and threshing—say half a century ago—and another farm where present-day methods are in full operation, how striking would be the contrast. A little over fifty years ago the drag improvised from the iimb of a tree, the plow with the wooden beam and mold board, the threshing flail, the sickle, the scythe, the heavy cradle and other primitive instruments. Today the disc harrow, the seeder, the self-binder, the hay loader, the corn harvester, the manure spreader, the self-dumping rake, the steam plow, the steam thresher, and countless other conveniences of which our forebears never dreamed.

\\ ho will say that agricultural machinery has not been the most civilizing as well as the most merciful agent and potent influence in the amelioration of rural conditions. Who can foretell the future and predict, within the next generation, what will be the outcome in comfort, rapiditv, economy and ease. Neither man nor horse is any longer the sweating, suffering, plodding and cramp‘ed creature of circumstance. Scan the horizon, give the imagination full play and eye cannot picture nor mind conceive the almost infinite possibilities. Necessity, comparison, intellect and industry have brought forth present-day marvels and evolution will reveal even greater evidences of achievement in days to come. If the farmers of today were supplied with no better or more suitable implements than were available thirty-five years ago, it would scarcely be going too far to say that profitable farming would not be practical.

I he company foremost in giving effect to the changed conditions in Canada as well as in nearly all the other grain growing countries of the world is the Massey-Harris organiza-

tion. What the departmental store is to modern merchandizing in the great crowded centres, so has this company been the leader throughout the British Empire to minister to the varied needs of the farmer and furnish him with

everything required in the nature of mechanical equipment for the tillage of the soil and the garnering of its wealth.

It was in 1879 that the implement business of the late Hart A. Massev

outgrew the accommodation and facilities afforded by the little village on Lake Ontario and the plant was removed to Toronto, the buildings being erected on what was then a portion of the old Exhibition Grounds.

Two years later the Toronto Reaper & Mower Company was bought. Encouraged by the success of the Massey firm, manufacturing concerns of a like character had sprung up in all parts of ( )ntario. The competition

was keen and operating expenses heavy. Leading rivals were the A. Harris, Son & Company, of Brantford, the Patterson Brothers Company, of Patterson, near Richmond Hill (later removed to Woodstock), and

the J. O. \\ isner, Son & Company, of Brantford.

In nearly every town, big and little, these firms had their own special agents and warerooms, beside general agents and traveling superintendents,

all selling practicallv the same class

of goods. The overhead expenses were enormous, the market limited and the same territory covered. Opposition was carried to extremes and the cost largely came out of the pocket of the farmer. Finally, it began to

dawn upon the directors of these industries that cut-throat competition was both senseless and extravagant, and that the outlay for maintaining agents and warerooms in small villages and towns, where only a comparatively few reapers and mowers

could be sold each year, was sheer folly. Why could not one selling force do the work as well and the expense of production and disposal of the output be attended to as efficiently and satisfactorily, and with much greater economy to manufacturer and consumer, by a large joint organization. The operations of the companies could thereby be extended and more lines placed on the market. The stockholders of the rival bodies got together and this is the story of how and why four big companies amalgamated in the fall of 1891, and the Massey-Harris Company, Limited, was incorporated with a capital stock of five million dollars. The Massev Company, the Harris Company and the Patterson Company manufactured principally harvesting machinery, and the Wisner Company, harrows, seeders, cultivators, etc., so that with the fusion of the quartette the range of output was widened and activities broadened.

Another unforeseen difficulty, however, soon loomed up. Farming machinery has always been sold by the makers on consignment or a commission basis, and it was found that where there was a live, energetic agent in a town for agricultural implements, other concerns began to encroach and reap the benefit of the selling plan and organization of the farm machinery manufacturers. A good, reliable, aggressive implement representative opened the way, and proved to be an easy mark for the plow, the wagon and the cream separator makers, and other producers of farm conveniences. They would approach a Massey-Harris man and tell him that in his warerooms he had abundant space and time to handle more lines on which he could make a fat profit, and still not neglect his other interests. These firms sold for cash. The implement man saw the alluring prospect of the proposition, and was induced to lay in a stock of their goods to the detriment of the company who had discovered and appointed the agent.

1 he Massey-Harris people saw that they would still have to enlarge their operations to put a check on this practice by removing the source of temptation to their agents to handle side lines. They then and there determined to go into the farm departmental business—furnishing wagons, plows and everything else required. The Bain V agon Company, one of the largest firms in the vehicular trade, was located at Brantford and the company acquired stock in this industry. Stock was also secured in the Verity Plow Works, of Exeter, as well as the selling rights of the entire output of both these concerns, and for some years Massey-Harris agencies in dififerent parts of Canada and foreign countries have sold plows, wagons, cream separators, practicallv every article needed on a farm. Thus another obstacle was removed from the pathway of the great company. In the reorganization of its interests the Massey-Harris Company removed the \ erity Plow V orks from Exeter and installed the plant in the buildings of the Wisner Company, in Brantford, and later into a large, new, thoroughly up-to-date factory, while the Bain V agon Comnany was transferred to Y\ oodstock from Brantford and the machinenp’aced in the factory occupied by the Patterson Brothers Company. The Harris Companv Works were continued and largely extended in Brantford, as were the Massev Works in Toronto bv the newlyformed company.

The foreign trade of the Dominion has been given its greatest impetus by the Massey-Harris Companv interests, who were the first to place u binder manufactured in Canada, in South Africa, Argentina, Russia, Australia. France. Great Britam. Germany, New Zealand and everv other grain-growing land, except the United States. In great field competitions with all other makes in the world, the Massey-Harris machine carried off premier bono-> The export business of the firm alone now amounts to about fi-ftv per cent, of the total an-

nual turnover. Ten or twelve years ago Canada was not attracting the at-

The Birthplace of the Massey Works

tention of the world that it is to-day. Immigration was slow, the rich resources and wonderful \\ea1th of the

boundless West were practically miknown, and the Dominion had not

reached the status of a nation. In distant climes, people who had literally never heard of us, read on the

The Massey Works of To-day

world-renowned machines, “Made in Canada.” Their eyes were opened, die campaign of education spread and thousands of inquiries poured in relative to the agricultural possibilities and potentialities of this comparatively new land.

The business of making harvest machinery was begun by the late Hart A. Massey when he was only twentyfour years old, and continued under the name of the Massey Agricultural Works until 1870, when the Massey Manufacturing Company was formed. In 1879 the factory was brought from Newcastle to Toronto, and placed on the site of the present Massey-Harris Company’s extensive pile of buildings. Until the formation of the Massey-Harris Company the business was conducted by Hart A. Massey and his three sons, Charles A., Chester D. and Walter E. H. Massey. In 1870 Charles A. Massey became VicePresident and General Manager of the company, his father having to retire temporarily owing to ill-health.

Charles A. Massev died in February, 26

1884, and the active management of the business reverted to the father. Hart A. Massey, who was President and General Manager to the time of the formation of the Massey-Harris Company. Chester D. Massey was Treasurer, and Walter E. IT. Massey, Secretary. The Massey-Harris Company, capitalized at $5,000,000, with head offices in Toronto, was incorporated in 189T . The first directors were: President, Hart A. Massey;

Vice-President, J. Kerr Osborne; General Manager, Hon. L. MelvinJones ; Assistant General Manager. Walter E. FT. Massey; Treasurer, Chester D. Massey, and Secretary, J. N. Shenstone. The officers remained the same until 1896, when the death of the President, Hart A. Massey, made a reorganization necessary. Walter E. 11. Massey then became President, the rest of the officers retaining their former positions. In October, 1901, the company and the community sustained a great loss in the death of Walter E. H. Massey, Chester 1). Massey taking the Presi-

The Harris Works of To-day

dency. After holding this for one year he became Honorary President, and Hon. L. Melvin-Jones was made President and General Manager. The present officers are: Honorary Presi-

dent. Chester D. Massey ; President and General Manager, Hon. L. Melvin-Jones; Vice-President, J. Kerr Osborne; Secretary, J. H. Housser ;

I reasurer, J. N. Shenstone; Assistant General Manager, Thomas Findley, and General Superintendent, R. If. Verity.

Of the four amalgamating companies it is interesting to refer briefly to the history of the other three. The A. Harris, Son & Company was established at Beamsville in i8s7, bv Alan-

son Harris. The business was removed to Brantford in 1872, Mr. Harris' eldest son, John Harris, a man of splendid character and ability, becoming actively connected with the firm, and until his death he was the practical, active manager. There were associated with these two gentlemen in the building up of the industry, J.

Kerr Osborne, L. Melvin-Jones, f. Id. I Iousser and J. N. Shenstone, all four being prominently connected with the Massey-1 larris Co. to-day. The Patterson Bros. Co. was established at Patterson, near Richmond Hill, in 1853. The founder was Peter Patterson, who was an energetic and public-spirited man. He was successively

Present Officers of the Company

Reeve of Vaughan Township, Warden of the County of York, and for twelve years member for West York in the Ontario Legislature. Air. Patterson died in July, 1902. The business was removed to Woodstock in 1887, and was conducted in that city until the formation of the MasseyHarris Co., by Peter Patterson and his two sons, J. D. and A. S. Patterson. The latter has become one of the greatest sales managers in the implement business, and is now general manager of the company in Australia.

The J. O. Wisner, Son & Co. started business in -Brantford in 1857. The founder was the late Jesse O. Wisner, and the active manager was his son, Wareham S. Wisner, who held the position until the absorption of the business by the Alassey-1 larris interests. W. S. Wisner is still an authority on tillage and seeding, machines, and is attached to the big company to-day in an advisory capacity.

The commander of this gigantic industrial corporation is Hon. Lyman Melvin-[ones. As chief executive

officer of the largest company in its particular line in the British Empire, he is one of Canada's greatest captains of industry and stands foremost in the development of the agricultural implement trade to its present practically unequalled position among the manufacturing concerns of the Dominion. Aír. Jones knows the farm machinery business in every department from the practical end, as the numerous records in the patent office in Ottawa attest, to the most successful and effective methods of manufacturing and marketing. His greatest invention is, perhaps, the open end binder which enables a machine to cut any length of straw. Air. Jones was more intent and enthusiastic upon the success of the open end binder than he was in the pursuit of money. It is generally conceded that had he applied for a patent then and there, it would have made of him a millionaire many times, for makers all over the world at once appropriated the principle.

As a youth he entered the service of the Harris Co., Brantford, in 1873, and was among the first traveling implement salesmen in Ontario. After a few months on the road he went into the shop and learned the practical end of the business. Within four years, so satisfactory was his progress he was admitted as a partner, and in 1879 went to Winnipeg to manage the Western trade of his company.

I íe remained in the Prairie City ten years, and served the citizens as aiderman, then as AI ayo r for two years. The first time he ran for the Alayoralty he was elected by a majority of one vote. His opponent demanded a recount which was held before the court and the presiding judge declared Aír. [ones a victor by a single ballot.

“Are you perfectly sure that I enjoy the confidence of the ratepayers to the extent of having a clear majority?’’ inquired Aír. Jones.

“No, I am not absolutely certain,’’ responded the judge, “but T believe the intention of the voter in the disputed ballot was to mark it in your

Some Founders of the Allied Companies

favor, and that is the reason I declare you elected."

“Well, I will not accept the seat," asserted Air. Jones, “unless I have a majority that is beyond a doubt." He resigned and so enthusiastic were the citizens over his firm, manly stand that a few days after he was returned to the office of Chief Alagistrate by acclamation.

He is probably the only Canadian Alayor who ever fined a citizen for violating a city by-law and then turned around and paid the fine himself—certainly a unique position for the head of a civic corporation like Winnipeg.

Back in the early eighties it was a common practice to see men sawing wood on the street. A by-law decreed that it should not be done, but there being no back yards where was the average resident going to do it? One day an offending citizen was summoned by the police for a violation of the by-law. Mayor Jones presided in the Police Court that morning, and when the defendant pleaded guilty, the acting magistrate, for the purpose of setting an example to other probable offenders, taxed him a dollar and costs and gave the fellow a week to pay. Before the time had expired the Mayor has gone down in his own pocket and settled with the city. After that the police were allowed to connive at the practice of sawing wood as it was felt by His Worship that to enforce such a rigid regulation would prove a hardship when there were few, if any, private or back yards.

In 1888. Air. Jones was elected a member of the Manitoba Legislature for Shoal Lake, and entering the Cabinet of the late Hon. Thomas Greenway, was made Provincial Treasurer. Owing to the sudden death in 1889 of John Harris, General Adanager of the Harris Co., he resigned his portfolio and returned to Brantford to succeed him. On the formation of the Alassey-Harris Company in 1901 he was elected a director and appointed General Manager, which post he held until 1903, when he was made

President and General Alanager. He is also President of the Bain Wagon Company, and a director of the Verity Plow V orks, the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the Nova Scotia Steel & Iron Co., and the Canada Cycle & Alotor Co.

In 1901 he was appointed to the Senate, and, being a recognized authority on the manufacturing and financial interests of the Dominion, is one of the most useful and solid members of the Upper House.

It is not generally known, because the fact has never been proclaimed from the hill tops, that the earnings on all holdings of Hart A. Afassey m the company are devoted to educational, charitable and religious purposes in accordance with the stipulation of his will. This sum, together with the givings of some of the large shareholders, means that the entire earnings on fully one-quarter to onethird of the entire stock of this immense organization go each year to help the sick, the suffering and the distressed, and to extend the usefulness, equipment and scope of leading institutions of learning.

The expansion of the AlasseyHarris interests, the evolution in agricultural equipment, and the happy results brought about all over Canada, are indeed creditable in the development of a great and strong movement. The outcome is that Canadians have farm implements to-day equal to any in the world, cheaper in price and more varied in character and capabilities. All this, taken into consideration with the fertile soil of the Dominion, especially that of the Canadian West, the salubrity and invigorating character of our climate, the splendid yield per acre, the faith, courage and self-reliance of our people, and our ever-extending transportation facilities, places Canada to-day in an enviable position, and of the many classes, who go to make up the country’s citizenship, none is to be more envied than the progressive and wide-awake farmer living in the dawn of the twentieth century.