Recent News at Hercules Manufacturing
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by Chuck Stinnett, Henderson Gleaner
Local industries hiring, but finding good workers tricky
The challenge of findings good and qualified industrial personnel has perhaps never been as great as it is today. And that’s a shame, because manufacturing is on the rebound in the Henderson area.
Kyndle CEO Brad Schneider assembles a list of 17 industries in Henderson, Union and Webster counties that have job openings “and would love to see more applicants”.
Hiring, he reported, are Century Aluminum, Hercules Manufacturing, Audubon Metals, Taubensee Steel, Teknor Apex, Gibbs Die Casting, Service Tool & Die, Sunrise Tool & Die, Columbia Sportswear and Hydro Aluminum in Henderson County; Trelleborg, Vibracoustic, EZ Access, Hugg Technologies, Little Kentucky Smokehouse/Jim David Meats and Ervin Cable in Union County; and Electric Motor Services and Pioneer Plastics in Webster County.
“And this is just on the industrial side,” Schneider reported. “Many retailers, service providers and offices in the area have openings, too.”
The challenges for manufacturers are varied. There are shortages of skilled welders and maintenance mechanics and electricians, for example.
Further, for years companies have reported difficulties in finding employees who will show up for work every day and on time or who can problem-solve and work in a team environment. Too often, applications can’t pass a drug screening.
Jeffrey Caddick, owner and CEO of Hercules Manufacturing on Bob Posey Street, which builds van bodies for a variety of delivery trucks, recognizes the issues. But, he said his company is trying to be proactive.
“Obviously there are societal issues in play;…manufacturing does not have the kind of appeal in terms of a career that some other fields have", Caddick said.
“Our perspective is to take a more active role in developing an environment where we have access to a good pool to pull from,” he said.
Among its approaches:
Retention: “We try to have a company culture for retention through employee engagement and employee empowerment,” Caddick said. “If you hire someone and they stay, you don’t have to hire someone else.”
Training and promotion: When the company identifies a successful entry-level employee who has been with the company a year or so, he said, “it’s important for your to invest in them” and provide new skills.
“We just completed a welding program in collaboration with (Henderson) Community College,” Caddick said. “We asked for volunteers amongst entry-level people interested in being trained.” Approximately 10 participated.
Lean: “We’ve had a lean manufacturing effort for several years that helps create a culture of employee engagement, empowering them to suggest process improvements".
"A factory can advertise all it wants", he said. “but nothing is more powerful than employees who already work for you and brag to their friends that they like their job.”
Teamwork: Hercules has introduced a growth-management system made up of approximately 10 employees from multiple departments, from administration to the plant floor.
Youth: Hercules works with Henderson County High School to offer after school employment to students learning trades such as welding. It also offers internships that are “teaching people what it means to work”.
While there are plenty of complaints about the challenge of securing qualified workers, Caddick said, “It’s more interesting to me to actually do something.”
|Mandy Helton has joined Hercules Manufacturing in Henderson, Kentucky as Administrative Assistant. Prior to joining Hercules, Mandy worked as an Administrative Assistant at Woodard Cooling & Heating. She previously served as a Secretary at Watson Lane Baptist Church and a substitute teacher for the Henderson County School Board. Mandy also has experience as the Lead Customer Service Rep/Assistant manager at Check N Go. Mandy is a graduate of the Madisonville Community College with an Associates Degree in Science & Math.|
Evansville Courier & Press
COKER: Hercules has roots in buggy company
Staff Report, Saturday, July 12, 2014
Hercules Manufacturing, a veteran builder of custom truck bodies and trailers, has been an established fixture within the Henderson business community since 1957. But few people know that the company’s history dates back to the turn of the last century and a relationship between Evansville industrialist William McCurdy and the Sears & Roebuck catalog company.
McCurdy was already a wealthy man in 1889 when he moved from Kansas City, Misouri, to Cincinnati, to become the secretary of the Favorite Buggy Co. After a few years, he became friends with Julius Rosenwald, whose company was a major supplier of men’s clothing to Sears in Chicago. By 1894, Rosenwald financed the creation of the Brighton Buggy works, which became the primary suppliers of farm wagons and buggies to the mail-order giant.
By 1900, Sears & Roebuck’s demand for buggies and wagons exceeded the capacity of Brighton to keep up with orders. At the same time, McCurdy had grown weary of paying the enormous shipping charges for lumber he was buying on the Evansville waterfront.
After a search of several months, Rosenwald approached McCurdy with an offer he could not refuse. By this time, Rosenwald was running Sears and offered McCurdy $750,000 to build a new factory on Morton Street in Evansville near the old Southern Railway tracks, less than a mile from the Ohio River.
By 1905, Rosenwald, which was heavily invested in Hercules (as McCurdy was likewise heavily invested in Sears) foresaw the popularity of the “horseless carriage” to American consumers and urged McCurdy to set up a separate division of the company to build bodies for utility vehicles. Two years later, Richard Sears retired as president of Sears and Rosenwald took over as president of the company. The mail-order retailer wanted to cash in on the enormous demand for self-propelled vehicles and approached an Ohio-based inventor, Alvaro Krotz, who had designed a motor buggy device based upon the design of Hercules buggies but powered by a two-cylinder engine sourced by the Reeves Pulley Co., of Columbus, Indiana.
In 1908, Hercules produced the first two hundred of these rudimental, two-seat Sears Motor Buggies but manufacturing of these vehicles was soon moved to a new plant in the Chicago area. Hercules continued to build bodies for all 3,000 Sears buggies build during the next two years.
By 1912, Hercules expanded the local factory complex to include a smelting operation to produce cast iron, stationary kerosene and gasoline-powered engines for agricultural applications. From 1914 for the next 20 years, the company produced over 400,000 of these single-cylinder hit-and-miss engines ranging from 1 ½ horsepower up to 14 horsepower and sold them domestically and around the world.
In the 1920s, with the demise of the horse-drawn buggy as the primary mode of transportation in lieu of the automobile, the ever innovative McCurdy began looking for another product to bring to the marketplace. Since many of his vehicles and truck bodies had been sold to farmers involved in food production, he hit upon the concept of refrigeration to extend the usable life of perishable fresh foods as a new product line. Forming the company ServEl from the company motto “Serving Electrically” a line of ice makers and electrical compressor refrigerators were released to the market in the early 1920s. Later in the decade, Servel bought the patent rights to a new system of gas-absorption refrigeration developed in Sweden by the Electrolux corporation.
Building the prototype of this refrigerator almost bankrupted the company. After a “friendly reorganization” around Christmas time in 1927, Hercules Body emerged as a division of the new Servel, Inc. with separate management under George Specht. A building was purchased on Franklin Street and Seventh Avenue, the former Bockstege Furniture factory, what is now the Porter Paint store in Evansville.
From 1925 through 1935 the company was primarily involved in building “Better Business Bodies for Ford, Chevrolet, Studebaker, Durant, Whippet and other chassis in various styles — dump beds, grain and stock bodies panel vans and a wide variety of designs tailored to specific hauling applications. By 1931, the company sought to mate its expertise in truck body building with mobile refrigeration. A compressor powered by a small gasoline engine with a generator was mated to a 1 ½ ton enclosure and the Model 3924 Mechanically Refrigerated Body was born.
This vehicle was exhibited at a 1932 automotive products show in Chicago and soon thereafter made a 25,000 mile tour across the country visiting 250 cities during a nine-month period and keeping the contents of the insulated cargo compartment at zero to -5 degrees F temperature the entire time. The compressor could be plugged into a standard 110 volt electrical receptacle overnight.
In the late 1930s, Hercules began building wooden-bodied “estate wagons” first for Pontiac and later for Oldsmobile, Chevrolet and Buick automobile companies. In 1939 the company added the luxury line Packard and built extended wheelbase wagons in the One Ten and One Twenty model lines from 1939 through 1941. Today, these are among the most sought after pre-War Packards to serious automotive collectors.
The company produced cargo trailers during World War II and continued to build a wide variety of truck and auto bodies in the immediate post War period.
Finally, in 1957, veteran managers George and Fred Specht took on a new partner, George Caddick, who ultimately bought the company and moved Hercules first to a building on South Main Street in Henderson and later to 800 Bob Posey St. Today, under the direction of Jeffrey Caddick, George’s son, the company continues to build quality, custom-made refrigerator bodies, box trucks and trailers for a well-established customer base in the dairy, brewery, florists and a wide variety of other industries.
David Coker is an Evansville freelance writer. Contact him at OLDCARS55@aol.com.
Ian McCarter has joined Hercules Manufacturing as Auto Cad Operator.
Ian graduated from ITT Technical Institute in March of 2014 with an Associate of Applied Science in Drafting and Design Technology Degree, and performed his Drafting/Design Internship @ Fluid Systems, Inc. in Evansville.
Ryan Warren has joined Hercules Manufacturing Co. as an inside sales representative.
Warren most recently worked as Purchasing Planner for the Sock Division of Delta Galil USA in Bowling Green, KY, and previously worked as a Replenishment/ Communications Analyst and Production Planner for Fruit of the Loom in Bowling Green, KY.
Warren is originally from the Owensboro area and graduated from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY with a Bachelor of Arts Degree having majored in Corporate & Organization Communication and minored in Marketing.
Kristen Ricketts, Purchasing Agent
Ricketts began her career at Henderson Trailer as a Lean Manufacturing Specialist in May 2013. She is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a minor in Human Resources Management from the University of Southern Indiana.
Nathan Vandiver has joined Hercules Manufacturing as Assistant Production Control Manager. His responsibilities will include: driving the implementation and management of the Hercules Quality Assurance Management System (QAMS); developing manufacturing SOP’s, standardized work instructions and quality specification instructions; establish and maintain standardized training materials and trouble-shooting guidelines for all work stations.
Nathan most recently worked as an instructor for the Ivy Tech Industrial Maintenance & Engineering Schools, a distribution engineer for Carhartt, and a design engineer for Ivy Tech Industries.
A native of Southern Indiana, Nathan graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor's Degree of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology and a Master's of Business Administration.
A New Strategic Partnership between eNow and Hercules will Provide New Solar Solutions for Delivery Fleets
Warwick, RI. (September 15, 2013) –Two new solar powered systems offered by eNow in partnership with Hercules Mfg. Co. will help delivery fleets meet power demands for lift gates and monitoring equipment, and adhere to stringent no idle laws.
The solar powered systems, developed by eNow, will be available to all Hercules insulated & dry freight body customers. Each system is configured to support a vehicle’s battery’s charging profile resulting in optimum battery life.
SunCharge is a new solar powered trickle charge system designed to keep vehicle batteries fully charged and conditioned while the vehicle is not running. Battery drainage can disrupt schedules, cause maintenance issues and increase operating costs. The system is ideal for vehicles that sit idle for several days, or delivery vehicles that need to power temperature monitoring equipment.
SunLift is a solar powered liftgate accessory battery charging system designed to reduce fuel consumption associated with idling, reduce alternator load, and increase battery life. The system is designed for trucks with a heavy lift gate duty cycle, and which never fully re-charge batteries due to frequent delivery stops.
“We are pleased to be able to offer our customers new products that are not only good for their business but also beneficial to the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Hercules CEO/Owner, Jeffrey A. Caddick, said. “eNow’s technology is an ideal complement to the service and quality Hercules offers our customers.”
“We are proud to pair our cutting edge solar technology with one of the most respected truck body and trailer manufacturers in the country,” said Jeff Flath, eNow President and CEO. “Working with Hercules is a win-win because it offers customers a way to save money and improve battery life, while extending eNow’s reach to delivery fleets.”
The announcement with Hercules builds on eNow’s marketing alliances in the transportation industry. Earlier this year eNow announced strategic partnerships with Bergstrom, Inc. and Mitsubishi Fuso of North America.
eNow’s solar-based auxiliary power systems are specifically designed for the transportation industry, including medium and heavy-duty trucks, commercial buses, school buses and military vehicles. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has also recently approved the use of eNow's solar-powered auxiliary power system on heavy-duty diesel fueled vehicles.
To find out more information about eNow, call 1-866-571-0175 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Hercules Mfg. Co., call 1-800-633-3031 or email them at email@example.com.
December is "Made in America" Month
The tradition dates back to Ronald Reagan's proclamation in 1985.
Wed, 2012-12-05 09:48
Julie Reiser, president, Made in USA Certified
A recent study by the National Retail Federation revealed that the average American will spend $700 in holiday purchases this year for a total of $465 billion. If that money was spent entirely on U.S.-made products it would create 4.6 million jobs.
Under President Ronald Reagan the United States, for the first time, saw on a large scale how a massive supply of imports could literally decimate and threaten the existence of an entire industry.
I am referring to the auto market when the U.S. was flooded with Japanese cars.
Early on in Reagan's campaign he spoke about the U.S. auto industry saying: "Japan is part of the problem. This is where government can be legitimately involved. That is, to convince the Japanese in one way or another that, in their own interests, that deluge of cars must be slowed while our industry gets back on its feet..."
Top U.S auto executives urged President Ronald Reagan to establish import quotas on Japanese cars. These American automakers were concerned that Japanese automobiles were permanently drawing consumers away from U.S. made vehicles. At that time, the Reagan administration was successful in convincing the Japanese government to temporarily halt auto exports to the U.S. in 1981. It was a very controversial move on the part of the Reagan administration.
As President, Ronald Reagan did a lot to try to "level the playing field." An often cited example of the benefits of voluntary export restraints is the one that emerged on Ronald Reagan's watch between the Japanese and the United States in the 1980's.
Another example is when Reagan imposed a 100% tariff on selected Japanese electronic products for allegedly "dumping" computer memory chips; he said he did it "to enforce the principles of free and fair trade." And Treasury Secretary James A. Baker stated that: Reagan "has granted more import relief to U.S. industry than any of his predecessors in more than half a century."
For these and other reasons on Dec. 23, 1985 President Reagan
issued the following proclaimation:
America's current trade problems have caused some to wonder whether this country may not be in danger of losing its reputation as a supplier of high quality products at competitive prices. As America's strong economic growth has led to increased demand for goods and services, imports have become more attractive because of the relative strength of the dollar. U.S. exports have become less attractive to foreign buyers for the same reason. Recently, however, increased growth in the economies of our trading partners and movement of the dollar toward a more sustainable equilibrium give us reason to expect that our trade deficit should ease in the near future. Tough foreign competition, in the last few years, has presented our manufacturers and our work force with a stiff challenge.
But America's producers are responding to that challenge, and it is time for consumers both here and abroad to take a fresh look at what America has to offer. Those who do will find the traditional variety, high quality, and dependability that ``Made in the U.S.A." has come to symbolize. They also will find this quality at more competitive prices.
Made in America Month also provides an opportunity for American firms and workers to resolve to take greater advantage of new competitive opportunities both here at home and in overseas markets. We Americans do not shrink from competition; we believe in competition -- fair competition. Historically, competition constantly creates pressure for innovation, product improvement, and customer satisfaction. The open marketplace makes the consumer the king, and we are all consumers.
In an increasingly competitive world, we Americans must redouble our efforts to make products of the highest quality in the most efficient way and market them aggressively. As we do I have no doubt that more and more Americans and foreigners will be drawn to the products with the proud label: ``Made in America."
The Congress of the United States, by Senate Joint Resolution 206, has authorized and requested the President to proclaim December 1985 as "Made in America Month" and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this event.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 1985 as Made in America Month. I invite the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to recognize and celebrate the excellence of American products.
Relevance in 2012
There are obvious similarities of a lot of the wordage to our current situation today in 2012. This proclamation could have been written almost exactly today, by our 44th President of the United States, President Barack Obama.
When countries like China, manipulate their currency, flood our markets with cheap underpriced goods using cheap labor and following no environmental regulations -- the playing field is not level, the United States can not compete "fairly."
How can we counter the situation with China? We can do today what Ronald Reagan implored us to do years ago. He wanted to encourage citizens, officials and manufacturers to partake in activities and programs "recognizing and celebrating American products."
A recent study by the National Retail Federation revealed that the average American will spend $700 in holiday purchases this year for a total of $465 billion. If that money was spent entirely on U.S.- made products it would create 4.6 million jobs.
But it doesn't even have to be that big. If each of us spent just $64 on American made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs."
Julie Reiser is the president & co-founder of Made in USA Certified.
Rick Carter has joined the Hercules sales team. Carter, a long-time resident of Henderson, KY will serve in the inside sales department.
Rick has many years sales experience in the overhead roll-up door business, dock equipment, and the lumber business, most recently with Architectural Sales. He was also sales manager for several years at Crawford Door. Carter has worked in sales for most of his career primarily in industrial products and/or construction and building products.
Hercules was featured in a recent article on What's New in Refrigeration in Fleet Owner Magazine
In addition to refrigeration units, cold-plate technology is another popular option for fleets. Hercules Manufacturing Co. says it is seeing an increase in requests for 5- and 6-in. foam all around the truck body, which is said to promote better temperature control and extended body life.
“The primary purpose of a refrigerated truck body is to provide good temp control. Some customers run longer routes with more stops; some carry more products, meaning drivers spend longer at each stop delivering multiple product lines,” says Jeffrey A. Caddick, CEO and owner of Hercules.
“We’ve devised foaming above the crossbars for maximum temp control, keeping floor height as low as possible, making it easier for drivers to get in and out.”
Hercules’ cold-plate system is a derivative of a system originally developed by the company in the 1930s.
“[Cold-plate refrigeration systems] are known for lower up-front maintenance [and] operation costs, eliminating refrigeration system diesel consumption, and project that coveted ‘green’ image,” says Caddick.
Predicting 2012: ERP Powers the Mobile, Real-Time Enterprise
Written By Louis Columbus, Cincom Systems
A good friend of mine recently became CIO of a financial services
firm and was given his first major system challenge this month: make
the complete accounting, financial and third-party loan provider data
and applications available 24/7 on any iPad or Android-based tablet.
He’s been given six months to make this happen.
Another CIO of a major A&D manufacturer I know wants vendors to
challenge him more to get greater value from his investments with
them. He’s also been given the task of revamping accounting and
financial systems by October 2012, and they just started last year.
He tells me the days of using ERP to just passively run reports are
Considering these two extremes—the young CIO who is just starting out
and has been given the challenge of bringing state-of-the-art
financial applications to mobile platforms, and the seasoned CIO who
must revamp an entire accounting and financial management system in
ten months—a series of predictions for 2012 emerge. Instead of
playing it safe, I’ve decided to reach on these to make them more
interesting, fun and hopefully thought-provoking as well:
Streamlined, intuitive usability of social networks will lead to ERP
getting an extreme makeover in 2012 in an effort to drive up system
adoption. While strides are being made in this area today, there is
still a long way to go until the usability of ERP application suites
approaches those of the most popular SaaS-based CRM, supply chain
systems and social networks. For CIOs, this is a big win since they
can satisfy the wants of many internal departments and customers with
a graphical interface upgrade without having to completely replace
systems. Look for this to be a major focus area of all ERP vendors in
2012 and a strategy for keeping long-standing systems in place and
safely under maintenance for at least a few more years if not more.
Rapid implementations become the new normal. The pressure on the new
CIO of a financial services company to deliver a new series of Apple
iPad and Android-compatible integrations within six months or less
and the pressure to make an entirely new accounting and finance
system work in an A&D firm by October 2012 are glimpses into the new
normal. Accuracy, speed and quickness with perfect implementations
are what the new expectations are based on. ERP implementation
timeframes will drastically shrink in 2012, with greater pressure on
system integrators and professional services to meet or beat
ERP mobility will be a dominant force from the shop floor to each
sales call where quotes, orders and contracts deliver real-time order
and pricing updates. How a given manufacturer chooses to sell is even
more important than what they sell in many industries. Equipping
manufacturing, quality assurance, production scheduling, procurement
and sales to have immediate data on what’s going on with orders,
customers and suppliers is critical. For the sales and service teams,
real-time data is the fuel they run on. There’s a chronic time
shortage in many, many companies right now, and bringing greater ERP
mobility from the shop floor to the sales call will increasingly be
seen as a means to lessen the time crunch. 2012 is the year where
mobility gets real across the enterprise with solid performance
numbers being generated as a result. For companies with large sales
forces and service organizations, integrating to key ERP systems to
gain real-time data will quickly lead to increased sales and higher
gross margins on service and warranty repairs.Depth and quality of
applications, data and legacy integration on mobile devices including
tablets will emerge as the new enterprise bling. The iPad is a badge
of analytical and executive honor in the financial services industry—
the technological equivalent of the corner office with the million-
dollar view and mahogany furniture. My good friend who just became a
CIO was unsure of just who was a VP or C-level executive during his
first staff meeting. He quickly realized the more worn the iPad and
case, the more senior the executive. The expectations on him are very
high for having real-time updates on a series of benchmarks that the
senior management team uses to manage their many businesses on mobile
platforms by June.
Cloud-based ERP in the enterprise and highly targeted verticals will
flourish and face moderate growth in small and medium businesses
(SMBs). Convincing as the arguments are for SMBs to adopt SaaS-based
ERP, this will continue to be slower in adoption than enterprises and
highly targeted vertical markets. Enterprises will continue to adopt
SaaS-based applications to replace legacy, high-maintenance and often
marginally effective systems in use today.
Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) will become the fuel that
drives cultural change away from siloed decisions to more
collaborative ones. Given how tight the time schedules are for every
IT department I’ve visited and know of, the luxury of allowing one
set of dashboards and metrics to just measure a single process or
silo are gone (or will be in 2012 completely). Little tolerance or
patience on the part of CIOs is now commonplace when it comes to
esoteric, single-centered dashboards and metrics. The good news is
that dashboards are extremely easy to create now, especially on top
of Microsoft-based analytics and databases. That’s also part of the
bad news too. Dashboards are proliferating and are often used to
define a given department’s agenda without focusing on shared
outcomes. In 2012, this will change as dashboards and metrics that
measure collaboration become required for continued investment.
Template-driven implementations will become more commonplace in the
mid-market. For many enterprises in the mid-tier of the market,
there’s going to be much more of a focus on getting up and running
quickly and less on tailoring every possible customization option in
an ERP module or entirely new system. Template-driven implementations
will also become commonplace in cloud-based ERP systems and solution
packages sold to vertical market industries. The good news is that
implementation timeframes will drop. The bad news is that not so much
customization means potentially inflexible systems. Common areas
where this strategy will be used are project management and
scheduling, business performance management, contract lifecycle
management, product lifecycle management, program management, project-
based supply chain management and service lifecycle management. These
templates will be especially useful in industries where compliance is
critical to passing government audits, for example in the
Value-based measurements of ERP will become more commonplace. Given
how much pressure there is on CIOs to show how investments in IT are
paying off, value-based measurements will become even more
commonplace in 2012 than they are today. The challenge of isolating
just which aspect of an enterprise system delivered cost reductions
or revenue gains is an area of ongoing debate in many companies.
These value-based measurements provide a structure for determining
just how much of a contribution ERP investments are making or not.
Highly specialized ERP platforms will accelerate system adoption and
value and will transform manufacturers in the process. Look for
Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and others to create world-class alliances and
partnerships that are focused on creating highly specialized ERP
platforms that will disrupt the existing enterprise software product
development, selling and service models.
Bottom line: More collaborative use of analytics, adoption of mobile
ERP applications primarily in sales and service and shortened
implementation timeframes all show just how time-constrained
enterprises are right now. Enterprises are in search of systems that
will help alleviate the time shortages that nearly every one of them
is facing today.
For information about Cincom Systems ERP solutions, visit
Louis Columbus has nearly 20 years of experience in the IT industry,
specializing in market and industry analysis, sales, product
management and development. He’s held senior positions at Toshiba
America, Lockheed-Martin, Intergraph and immediately before joining
Cincom, as senior analyst at AMR Research. Mr. Columbus is a frequent
contributor to industry publications and has published 15 books on
operating systems, peripherals and industry analysis. In addition,
Mr. Columbus is a frequent lecturer in Webster Loyola-Marymount
University’s graduate program on International Business. You can
reach Louis at firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVID COKER: Employees are customers, too
In my last column, the lead decried how Sears Holdings had recently
announced that the company will shutter more than 100 stores across
the country as the result of poor sales and earnings during the
Christmas holiday buying season.
In thinking about this, and reviewing the manufacturing history of
Evansville, it occurs to me that perhaps Sears should take a look at
an early page out of the history of the company if it is indeed
serious about returning the firm to its once prominent position in
the world of domestic retail sales.
The year was 1903. Early in the year, William McCurdy, a middle-aged
businessman who had made a name for himself in real estate and
insurance in Kansas City, Mo. had been operating the Brighton Buggy
Works in Cincinnati since 1890. Previously familiar with Evansville
as a river port and the largest hardwood market in the entire
country, McCurdy had been buying lumber locally to produce buggies up
river and paying the enormous freight charges of transporting the
lumber to Cincinnati.
His largest customer at the time was none other than the most
aggressive mail-order retail firm in the country, Sears & Roebuck and
Company of Chicago. Sears was being operated by Julius Rosenwald, a
personal friend of McCurdy's. Under Rosenwald's tutelage, Sears &
Roebuck had grown from sales of some $750,000 in 1889 to over $50
million in 1907.
Familiar with the situation and the growing reputation of Evansville
as the lumber and furniture mecca of the Midwest, Rosenwald made
McCurdy a proposition he simply could not refuse. He proposed to loan
McCurdy some $75,000 to build a new factory building in Evansville on
North Morton Street near the Southern Railway tracks. A new 32,000-
square-foot brick structure was built and with McCurdy bringing some
40 of his top wheelwrights, body men and metal craftsmen with him
from Cincinnati, the Hercules Buggy Company was born.
The company was an overnight sensation, selling its well-constructed
horse-drawn buggies, surries, wagons and sleighs for going in snow
through the Sears & Roebuck catalog.
A passage from a history of Evansville and Vanderburgh County from
1910 by local historian Frank Gilbert sheds some light on the subject:
"The Hercules Buggy Company, soon to be the largest buggy factory in
the world, has more business than its present plant can handle and is
contemplating a large addition." Quoting McCurdy personally, Gilbert
says: "Our sales show an increase of from 25 to 30 percent over the
largest year we have ever had. During April and May, we were
compelled to take all of our salesmen off the road as we simply could
not take care of the large demand for Hercules buggies."
Considering investment additions to both the wheelwright shop and the
body plant within the company, McCurdy continued: "For the past four
months, my factory has been building and shipping from 210 to 225
finished vehicles per day, and at this time we have orders in the
house sufficient to keep us going to full capacity until Sept. 1."
The majority of these vehicles were being sold through the Sears &
A few years later in 1912, William Triplett, the main buyer of
buggies and agricultural gasoline engines, approached McCurdy with
yet another proposition. Sears & Roebuck had been purchasing
stationary engines from a wholly-owned subsidiary, the Holm Machine
and Manufacturing Co. in Sparta, Mich., but the company could not
keep up with the soaring demand. Triplett offered to help finance a
new factory to make the stationary engines next to the buggy factory.
The first engines began rolling off the assembly line in early 1914.
>From then until sometime in 1934 when the company ceased production,
Hercules build more than 400,000 engines under various names, but the
majority of them were sold through the Sears catalog.
While no historic record of the number of employees working in these
two factories remains, old catalogs of the buggy works seem to
indicate employees in the hundreds. There is no doubt that many of
them were well aware that the fruits of their labor were sold through
Sears and, hence, were encouraged to place orders for household
goods, clothing and personal items themselves from the mail-order
Were these men visionaries or were they simply products of their
times? It remains a subject of conjecture. But both Rosenwald,
Triplett and later Henry Ford knew beyond a shadow of doubt that
working employees earning living wages become customers, and that
translates into increased sales.
Retailers in this country seem to have forgotten this, and their
recent actions of off-shoring production of everything they sell have
been killing the geese that laid the golden eggs for a vast
percentage of the American work force.
Rob Porter has joined Hercules Manufacturing in the Northeast Sales Division covering Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Porter has a solid background in Purchasing, Logistics and Transportation. He has an A.A.S. in Business Administration
Mike McDonough has joined Hercules Manufacturing, Inc., Henderson, KY as an in house sales associate. He brings 12 years solid sales experience to his position.
Mike was previously a member of the President's Club at Huntington Mortgage. He earned a B.S. Degree in Accounting from the University of Southern Indiana (USI) where he attended on an Academic and Athletic Scholarship.
|Hercules Mfg Co., a national manufacturer of custom built truck bodies headquartered in Henderson, KY has announced the impending retirement of its President, Joe Banna, at the conclusion of 2009. Banna will be honored for his 40 years of service by being named President Emeritus of the company.|
"I, along with my family, would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation of Joe's service and dedication to Hercules over the past 40 years. The longevity of his valued service testifies both to the character of this man and the integrity of our company," stated Jeffrey Caddick, CEO/Owner of Hercules.
Caddick went on to add, "I consider it important for our company, by elevating Joe to this position, to not only honor him for his service and dedication to our company, but also provide an opportunity for the company to have continued access to his knowledge and wisdom".
Hercules Mfg. Co., founded in 1902 and located in Henderson, KY since 1957, is a manufacturer of custom built truck bodies and trailers for the transportation industry.