Sunday, June 4, 2017

Elephant Steel shovel

When I bought my farm thirty or so years ago, among the stuff I found abandoned in the barn was this old drain spade.  Cleaned up, it proved almost custom-made for the digging wet snow out of the chute on my McKee Bros. snow blower that attaches to my tractor.

The Elephant Steel logo shows it to be a product of the Asaka Industrial Company Limited out of Osaka, Japan.  That company was founded in 1661 (that's not a typo!)  Their website proclaims, "We will strive towards the production of goods that will meet the needs of society by utilizing the know-how that has been cultivated through 350 years of tradition."  They continue to specialize in shovels and other farming tools.

We owe the wide range of shovels available today to the Pennsylvanian, Frederick Winslow Taylor, who, between 1890 and 1910, championed the "science of shoveling."  He was a fascinating character.  Below, from his entry on the PBS site, Who Made America:

Pay the Worker, Not the Job

Taylor passed the entrance examination to Harvard College but did not enroll, instead becoming apprenticed to a machinist and patternmaker at the Enterprise Hydraulic Works in Philadelphia. After completing an engineering degree at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, he went to work at the Midvale Steel Company, where he began his studies of worker productivity. Taylor believed in finding the right jobs for workers, and then paying them well for the increased output. He advocated paying the person and not the job and believed that unions would be unnecessary if workers were paid their individual worth. Taylor doubled productivity at Midvale. 
A New Profession

In 1890, Taylor became general manager of the Manufacturing Investment Company and created the new profession of management consultant. He served many prominent firms, ending with the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, where he implemented production planning, real time analysis of daily output and costs, and a modern accounting system. While at Bethlehem, Taylor and Mausel White developed the Taylor-White system for heat-treating chrome-tungsten tool steel, which won Taylor international recognition.

Sadly, he died relatively young in 1915, a victim of influenza. 

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