Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vanished Tool Makers: M.B. Skinner Company, South Bend, Indiana

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Founded in Chicago in 1898 as James McCrea & Company, M.B. Skinner bought it in 1908 and gave it his own name in 1911.  In 1920, he was possibly the first American company to institute an 8-hour day in spite of warnings from fellow business owners that this would lead to financial ruin.  In 1928, the company moved to new premises in South Bend, replacing the 3-storey building where parts had to be moved up and down on elevators to a plant all on ground level.  Mr. Skinner sold out his interest in 1933.  The company was also one of the first to give employees a bonus whenever profits increased.  As Mr. Skinner reportedly insisted to the young men who bought him out, "Capital is entitled to a reasonable return.  But when it exceeds that, the funds are coming out of the hides of the men who do the work.  I want you boys to remember after I'm gone that when you make any extra money, it should go back to the men on the job."  (Glenn C.  The Factory Owner and the Convict. 2005).   Would that businesses and corporations today heeded the same advice.


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