William McMaster’s Dynamics

How a Business Creed is Working out in Practical Affairs

C. LINTERN SIBLEY February 1 1914

William McMaster’s Dynamics

How a Business Creed is Working out in Practical Affairs

C. LINTERN SIBLEY February 1 1914

William McMaster’s Dynamics

How a Business Creed is Working out in Practical Affairs


“I BELIEVE that the psychological influence of enthusiasm is incalculable; and while I can scarcely claim to be the possessor of any extraordinary ability, yet perhaps enthusiasm has been the principal factor in my success,” said Mr. William McMaster whose recent appointment to the directorate of the Bank of Montreal has brought prominently before the public of the Dominion the name of one of the most successful, and at the same time, one of the most unassuming of the business men in that Commercial metropolis at the foot of Mount Royal.

“It is my firm belief,” he continued, “that if an employee is enthusiastic in his work, that enthusiasm is bound to mark him out for promotion. Similarly, enthusiasm at the head of a business communicates itself right down along the line. If the man at the head is lazy and indifferent, so is his staff. If he is busy, optimistic, then, other things being equal, so are those who work under his direction. The power of personal enthusiasm is wonderful.” x

Here we have the key to the success of one in whose career there has been nothing dramatic. Mr. McMaster has not flashed into the public view as a brilliant financial genius. He never started out on any great crusade of reform or fought political battles, or wrote letters to the papers, or bludgeoned his way into the public notice as a “captain of industry.” He never made a lucky strike in Cobalt or a sensational coup in high finance. And yet he stands in the very front rank of the financial and industrie.! forces of the Dominion. His success has been the success not of opportunism or of luck, or of daring speculation, but the success of real, solid, old-fashioned business virtues. Indeed, I think if you were to search Montreal over you could not find a man better fitted by instinct and experience to write such a book as “The Letters of a Self-Made Merchant to his Son” than William McMaster, manufacturer.

Mr. McMaster belongs to that gradually diminishing body of men who may be termed the pioneers of modem industrial Montreal. He was born in Montreal in 1851, of hard-working Scottish parentage, and he started his career, not with a silver spoon in his mouth, but with intangible assets of far greater worth, namely, a rugged constitution and the high and stern ideals of life and duty which are characteristic of all that is best in the Scottish race.

He gathered the fundamentals of his education in the old Montreal Collegiate 'School, but he did not cease to be a 'student when as a lad he left school to earn his living in the offices of Moreland,

Enthusiasm, loyalty, and perseverance are the old-fashioned virtues which have contributed to place Mr. McMaster, the subject of this article, in a position of widespread influence in the great staple industries of Canada, and these are the three qualities which he places in the front rank as leading to success in life. No one could be better qualified to express an opinion on the business problems of the present day than one who has, without money or influence, worked himself up to one of the foremost business positions in the country, and his ideas, as quoted at the latter part of the article, will be read with surpassing interest by all business men.—Editor.

Watson & Co. All his life he has been a student, and to-day he is as keen as ever.

In the offices of Moreland, Watson & Co., he was gradually promoted from one position of responsibility to another and finally he was transferred to the Montreal Rolling Mills, which his employers at that time controlled. Here he became successively sales-manager, secretarytreasurer, superintendent, and finally vice-president and general manager. The Montreal Rolling Mills, not incorporated

in the Steel Company of Canada, Ltd., were long among the most important iron and steel works in the Dominion, and as the business expanded under his direction to keep pace with the expansion of the country, so did the influence of Mr. McMaster increase. He came to be recognized as one of the outstanding figures in industrial Montreal and his influence and services were mueh sought on the directorates of other companies.

Power in Trade Organization.

Similarly he became a power in various trade organizations. The Metal and Hardware Association elected him as president in 1891. He served upon the council of the Montreal Board of Trade in 1898 and 1899. In 1903 he became president of the Montreal branch of the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association, and he was one of the influential body delegates chosen to voice the views of the Dominion at the Commercial Congress of the Empire in London, England.

The widespread character of his influence is shown by the numerous companies of which he is a director. These include some thirteen of the larger commercial, manufacturing and financial concerns of Canada. One industry in particular he has done much to develop; viz., the manufacture of explosives. He is at present president of a corporation of this kind with branch houses from end to end of the Dominion, and it is to the business of this company that his best energies are now devoted.

A man who, without money or influence, has worked himself up from a humble situation as an office hand to a position of such widespread influence in the great basic industries of the country, and who now has been given a voice in the inner counsels of the premier financial institution of the Dominion, must need have qualities above the ordinary.

Those who know him best can confirm Mr, McMaster’s statement given at the beginning of this article that he has one quality that shines out above all others— the quality of enthusiasm. Work is a positive joy to him. He revels in it. glories in it. The sunshine of his enthusiasm reaches every department of the business he directs, and touches every individual. It is magnetic. It makes him a good “mixer” in the world of men. It stamps him as a born general.

One Secret of Success

“Apart from enthusiasm, wliat else would you commend to an ambitious young pian,” Mr. McMaster was asked.

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William McMaster’s Dynamics

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'You know,” he replied, ‘‘I am Scotch a the very marrow. 1 suppose I am ery conservative. I believe in the good ld-fashioned virtues of loyalty and pereverance. I think it is a mistake to be DO ambitious for immediate success. roung men nowadays too often gamble rith their careers. The philosophers tell s that “Heaven lies about us”—that appiness is not a thing of far-off attainîent, but that it is ours here and now, if re will but recognize it. I believe it is he same with success. You will often ee a young man throw up a fairly good, ssured position, for a new and untried osition that offers him for the moment lore salary. The consequence is that in he long run he is frequently worse off istead of better. Looking back over my wn acquaintances, it seems to be that he majority of those who have succeedd best are those who have gone steadily head—who have seen the possibilities ¡ring immediately about them, and made he most of those. I don’t mean to say hat a man should work in a blind alley.

[e owes it to himself to see that his osition offers reasonable prospect of access. But if those prospects do exist, hen my experience is that the man who erseveres along his chosen line of eneavor is the one who most often wins.

0 much depends,” he continued, “on he point of view. “I don’t think we 1 an do our boys any better service than j 3 teach them that useful work is wise fork. To be honest and useful in our i rork; to be cheerful and fair, as in play :

3 shun waste of labor and of time ; and 3 study and practice co-operation— hese are the things that make for sue-

But while Mr. McMaster has all his fe been an enthusiastic worker, he has ot allowed business entirely to absorb is interests. He has taken an interest

1 philanthropy—he is a life governor of he Montreal General and Western [espitáis and in the work of the Presbverian Church in contributing to the uilding up of character. He has also een fond of sports all his life. Here, gain, the character of the man stands at. The sport which appeals to him is íe sport in which he can himself take art. He has never been found in the ink of baseball fans, but golf, and achting, and the personal in the open re the things that have appealed—and t lacrosse, skating, snowshoeing and fill appeal to him in the way of recretion. In his younger days he was keen

i lacrosse, skating, snowshoeing and «inis besides, and he has never given up is daily horseback riding.

“If we’ve got to grow old, let’s grow .d as gracefully as we can,” is one of is mottos. Perhaps this point of view •wards life has had more than anything se to do with his buoyancy of mind and hysique.

Mr. McMaster is a Conservative, aj lias always been an active supporter the Canadian Manufacturers’ Asso ation. In the course of liis busine career lie has seen a revolution in bui ness methods. He has seen great, a embracing corporations take the place a multiplicity of small competiti businesses.

“Do you think,” he was asked t other day, “that the future trend business and manufacture will be mo and more along the lines of what we cf Trust methods, or do you think that ti agitation against great corporatior such as is now going on in the Unit« States, will eventually break down tl Trust system?”

“I think,” he said, “that both manufacture and distribution the mo efficient economic method is the metht that will prevail, despite everything, remember that in one of the trade orgai izations to which I belong, the complaii came up that department stores wei selling a certain line of goods hithert confined to one special line of stores. W were told that this was unfair compet tion, and we were asked to protef against it. But the stand I took was thi —that if the department store method o distribution was the economic methoi of reaching the consumer, then that wa the right one, and things must settl themselves on that basis.

“It is the same with business. What ever makes for economy in production i the method that will prevail. I thinl that in the future we shall see an exten sion of what are called Trust Methods o manufacture and distribution, whereve those methods are the economic ones And speaking of great corporations, think that they act against their own in terests when they demand high protec tion or extort big profits. I think it ij better for them and for their share holders if they seek not a high, but 1 fair, protection, and if they are satisfiet with small profits on the goods they pro duce. The whole effect of Trust metb ods should be to bring about sucl economy in production and distribution as will make for a better standard oi wages for the workmen on the one hand and a cheaper product for the consume! on the other hand. Small profits relativa lv are the ones that make high returns ij the aggregate, and it will be. I think, jua in proportion as they justify themselve] economically that Trusts will, in thi future, succeed or fail.”