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board is the most flexible. It will take care of more stations, and in many instances is considered as a great advantage because the operator acts as a bureau of information in addition to her switchboard duties. There is practically no limit to the size of this type of system. The operator in attendance at the switchboard answers all calls coming in and makes all connections.
Another type of system is called the Inter-Comm-Phone system. This system requires no operator, as each person makes his own connections. Pressing the button makes your connection and calls your party.
This system is intended for concerns that will never require more than thirty-two stations, this being the largest capacity in which this type is made.
Either of these systems can be so wired and arranged that any station in the system can communicate direct with the main or city exchange.
The cost of a private telephone system is dependent, of course, on the number of stations required, but on the whole the installation is nowhere as expensive as is generally believed.
PHASES OF THE FURNITURE MARKETS
Manufacturers Could Fill More Orders---Factories are Being Generally Worked on Short Time---Less Than a Normal Business can be Expected
Written by Men Who Know
HE furniture trade is unmistakably dull. This is the only statement which can be made in truth from the manufacturers' standpoint. There are comparatively few factories which are being operated more than forty hours a week-some of them less than that-for the manufacturers are actuated by some of the same conservatism which governs the retailers. The retailers, who have been affected by the hesitation which is everywhere evident, have had added to their other negative poles recently a cold, late spring. Signs of spring are not very many at this writing in the North, and the traveling men who have the courage to go out over their territory encounter but little readiness upon the part of the dealers to replenish their stocks. If there should be a sudden burst of spring weather and the demand for baby cabs, linoleum, the things which are called for about housecleaning time, and summer furniture should as suddenly become general the conditions might change radically. Some improvement is reported by our New York correspondent who writes: "Retail trade in New York city and vicinity shows distinct improvement over previous conditions and a corresponding feeling of optimism is apparent. The depressing influence of a cold and late spring has been somewhat discounted by the comparative lateness of the Easter season this year and retailers in general report fairly satisfactory business. How much of this applies to the retail furniture business is a question, but there is no doubt but that any expansion in general business activity will be shared by the furniture trade. Confidence is evidently increasing among the buying public but it has not as yet shown itself in such proportions as to warrant any sudden expansion in wholesale buying, and the wholesale dealers in all lines still complain of the 'hand to mouth' methods of buyers." There are some encouraging conditions in the financial world. The demand for money has slackened, although this can be readily traced to the slackening of trade in all lines. There is a decreasing number of bankrupts, although this, in turn, is less significant than would be the statement had it come mid-year. The January liquidations not infrequently result in a large number of failures, while there is usually in turn a falling off as we move into the year. But in the face of tight money and poor collections it is encouraging to know that failures are fewer than they were a month ago. Even the Siegel stores, in New York, are gradually resuming. Some merchants are reporting slow collections from a most unexpected source that of the rich agricultural sections
of the Middle and North-West. It is believed that the bountiful crops and high prices obtained produced a spirit of extreme optimism which led to unwonted extravagance and, in many cases, to an over-extension of credit. Several leading agricultural machinery concerns have been reported in difficulties owing to their inability to make collections.
It is undoubtedly true that no more than a normal spring trade possibly not even that--can be expected during the ensuing sixty days, by which time we ought almost to be in the swing of the summer buying season. Something must depend upon the action of Congress. While there seems to be a disposition upon the part of Congress to modify the trust-busting policy of the administration, there is no mistaking the temper of the business public that the time has come to cease baiting Big Business, and there is an unmistakable growth of sentiment in behalf of a more liberal policy toward the railways. The gross earnings of the railways show a steady decline and many employes have been laid off. This certainly, and seriously, affects the furniture business, particularly the trade of the installment dealers. It not only means loss of volume, but bespeaks slow collections. Until the demands of business impose upon the railways the restoration of trains, etc., and until it is possible for the transportation lines to begin expenditures for replacements, etc., not much improvement in the retail trade of railway centers of importance need be expected. Although the steel companies are still operating about 75 per cent. capacity, they are not able to resume, evidently, the optimistic statements which were current in January and February. Much building is being done, it is true, and it is certain that the automobile manufacturers are still thoroughly busy, making their peculiar, but substantial, demand upon the steel industries. But this will not suffice. The railways are the big consumers of steel products.
There is nothing in the late spring which is yet interpreted as adverse to the growing crops. But it is too early yet to base firmly on the crop outlook, words of encouragement, which will contribute to the restoration of confidence, now apparently lacking.
charged that the railroads are sparing no effort to influence the pending rate decisions in their favor. The large number of employes which the railroads have discharged of late, the reduction in the number of passenger trains run, and the refusal to purchase steel and other equipment materials are all said to be part of a carefully considered plan to emphasize their position. Whether this is true or not, the effect upon the steel trade has certainly been all that they could wish. The manufacturing trades also appear to have their present needs well covered, and if it were not for the substantial increase in structural steel for the building trades of late. the steel trade would be in bad shape. The agricultural machinery manufacturers are reported in more or less financial straits owing to over extension of credit and have been noticeably backward in submitting their estimates for requirements for their ensuing fiscal year which begins July 1st. The automobile manufacturing trade has been fairly active in taking steel bars and has helped this end of the industry. The falling off is principally in new orders for forward positions, and specifications against old contracts have held up surprisingly well under the circumstances. For this reason, the actual volume of business done for the first quarter of 1914 shows up remarkably well in contrast with former years, but the apathy of buyers in regard to the future indicates that this statistical feature is misleading. Under the influence of this lack of interest, competition for business has again increased to such proportions as to start prices on the downward path and this has the effect of still further increasing the reluctance of buyers to place contracts ahead. Some instances of sales of structural steel as low as 1.10e base have been reported and steel plates at less than 1.15c base, Pittsburgh. Naturally, on a falling market, there is a disposition to sit back and await further developments. Finished product mills have been working to about 75 per cent. capacity of late, but it is admitted that further curtailment will be necessary unless there is a prompt revival in buying. Prices are softening in nearly all departments and it is believed that in most cases business could be done well under the published quotations. Although efforts to import foreign steel have met with little encouragement so far, this specter is ever before the trade and probably has had some slight influence upon the situation. Altogether the outlook is rather cheerless at this time.
Although the pig iron market is no longer as sensitive to changes in the steel trade as in former years, a pronounced reaction has also taken place in this line. Total pig iron sales for the first quarter of 1914 were more than double those of the corresponding period in 1913 and a half million tons greater than 1912. On the other hand, March sales dropped to 240,000 tons and at present the market is flat. While the heavy sales of the first quarter enable the furnaces to maintain quite a firm front at present, it is evident that it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain prices in the face of growing competition for business, and scattered reports of shading prices are beginning to come in. At present there is hardly enough new business to test the market, but concessions of about 250 a ton have been reported on steel making grades which are, perhaps, the dullest on the list. Producers of foundry grades are making a strong effort to hold prices at the higher levels recently established, but it is believed that orders of important size could be placed at concessions. Foundry and machinery manufacturers are backward in taking their allotments even on old contracts, and seem extremely reluctant to place new business for the second quarter. A strange feature of the situation is that quotations for pig iron in the third quarter have hardened in an unexplained manner and furnaces are unwilling to quote iron for the third quarter at the prices a-ked for April-May deliveries. This would seem to indicate a confidence in the future trend of business, which the present situation does not justify. Foundries appear to be working on an average of 60 to 70 per cent. of capacity, and in spite of their
small takings and requests for delay in shipment, are believed to be accumulating pig iron faster than they can dispose of it. The prospects are for lower prices in the immediate future, with a possible hardening again after July 1st.
Brass and Copper
Quotations on brass tubing and other brass products continue unchanged because of the unsettled copper market. While quotations have been in the vicinity of 1412 cents for some weeks, there has not been enough domestic demand to really test the market. Statistics of domestic consumption show a continued decline and the chief source of strength is the large European demand, especially from Germany. Consumers in that country appear to have been frightened by the strikes and other disturbances at the sources of supply and to have decided to accumulate a surplus which would tide them over any ordinary period of shortage. This probably accounts for helped to stiffen the local market. the heavy exports of copper to Europe of late, and has Domestic holders
seem a little more anxious to dispose of their stocks than they have been for some time, but they have not yet reached the point of making more than trifling concessions. The situation is still a waiting one as far as actual consumption and buying are concerned, and there is no real basis for advancing an opinion as to the future trend of prices.
THE RAW MATERIAL MARKETS
The final figures of the government on the current cotton crop bring assurance to users of cotton fabrics that there is enough of the staple to meet demands. The crop was the most valuable ever grown and the second largest in point of quantity. Its quality, however, is distinctly low, despite high prices, and it is now apparent that there will be no surplus of spinnable grades. The crop contained an unusually large amount of low-grade staple, much of which the mills have been forced to use, but the demand has now slackened off to such an extent that the mills are becoming more particular. Widespread accounts of the enormous size of the crop have fostered an idea among buyers that there would be a great surplus of cotton and that prices should be much lower than they are. As a matter of fact, it appears that the mills have been unable to secure cotton of grades which they could use at anything like the prices quoted on the speculative markets of New York and other centers. The mills have realized this right along, but have had hard work to convince buyers of the fact and the demand has fallen off sharply. There is little disposition among the mills to make up stock and the market has become very sensitive. Although there is little buying, there is very little stock anywhere in the market. A revulsion of feeling is now beginning to manifest itself, with an increasing realization that fabric prices are far cheaper in proportion to raw cotton now than they were a year ago, and wise buyers are beginning to place their orders ahead. The comparative cheapness of cotton goods at present is more and more apparent since the size of the crop is definitely settled and the future trend of prices will probably be upward.
The market in carpet and upholstery grades of wool is surprisingly strong in view of the serious depression in the carpet manufacturing trade. Most of the leading manufacturers have curtailed production sharply, as much as 50 per cent. in some cases. On this ground, manufacturers have been making a strong effort to depress wool prices, but apparently without material effect. The continued interest in the raw material market is taken by the holders as an indication that manufaeturers are confident of the future, in spite of present indications, and there is no disposition to make concessions. Some large transactions have been reported at high prices. Chinese wools, which are used in the cheaper lines, are especially firm and competition has been keen for all offerings. Russian and East Indian wools are also
firmly held and the manufacturers seem rather disgruntled at the lack of result of their efforts to depress values.
The continued heavy demand for silk fabrics of all descriptions contributes materially to the strength of the raw silk market. The supply is certainly not excessive and the Japanese holders in particular seem to be in a position where they can practically dictate terms. In fact, some observers express surprise that there have not been further advances than have been made. Domestic manufacturers, however, are fairly well covered for their present needs, and are not operating actively in the raw silk market. The current Japanese crop is now well cleaned up and the higher grades are scarce. Prices advanced early in March, then checked, and have since ruled irregular. Italian silks are at a high level, and holders seem unwilling to make any concessions in spite of cabled advices to the contrary. Chinese producers seem to be well sold up and very firm in their views.
The linseed oil market continues rather dull. The big buyers are starting to enter the market, but are conservative in their purchases and little interest is shown in future positions beyond July. Prices are firm with a slight tendency upward, but not marked enough to be quotable. Oil quotations in foreign markets are slightly lower and foreign oil has been offered locally. It has not attracted much attention as yet, but since the duty was reduced to 10 cents a gallon, it may yet be a factor in the domestic market. The world's consumption of linseed oil has been undoubtedly increased by the development of the hydrogenating or "hardening" process which makes this material available in the soap and certain edible product industries, but the supply seems to be adequate. There is some talk of selling linseed oil by weight instead of measure in the future, this being the usual method with oils of its class. Local prices on linseed oil are 51 to 522 cents, both for spot and nearby future positions.
Early in March the linseed oil market was startled by the publication of a statement which seemed to show that the domestic supply of flax seed was so far below the needs of this country that it would be necessary to import twelve million bushels of seed from other sources. This created quite a flurry for a time, but the matter was thoroughly threshed out by leading authorities and the alarm seems to be baseless. The best indication of this is the unruffled attitude of the oil manufacturers, who would be glad to take advantage of any such "bullish" situation if it actually existed. The concensus of opinion seems to be that there is an ample supply of seed in sight, although seed prices are slowly advancing, as is natural with the progress of the season. The European demand for seed seems to have been well supplied by the big Argentine crop, and there seems to be no cause for apprehension of a sudden increase in prices. Crushers do not seem anxious about future supplies and are still discriminating against the poorer grades of seed which are offered.
Increased importations of tow are expected under a recent decision of the Board of United States General Appraisers in favor of several importers of upholstery supplies who had imported flax straw in the rough and had been assessed at the $20 rate. It was held that this was properly dutiable as flax straw at $5 per ton.
realize that this is a good opportunity to cover for future needs. Some grades are especially cheap at present, including the bleached variety. The near approach of the uncertain shipping season is also a factor locally. During the summer, shipments of shellac are apt to be seriously damaged by heat, arriving in what is known as a "blocky" condition, affecting their value seriously. This season is assumed to begin June 15th. Local published quotations show no change with the exception of the higher priced grades which are 12 to 1 cent lower. Turpentine
There has been a slow but steady expansion of the turpentine market. Receipts have been few and scattered and stocks are small. Operations are not impressive, being mostly in small orders, but the aggregate is large. There has been little fluctuation in prices, which are steady at 49 to 50 cents.
Domestic glues are quiet, but prices are well maintained. There is little new business reported, but substantial deliveries on old contracts. The foreign glue market, however, is active and considerable movement is reported.
The varnish gum market has quieted down and the larger consumers seem to be well covered. Stocks of the more desirable grades are low and in some cases sold ahead. The other grades have not been neglected, however, and the whole market is in a comfortable situation. Batavia and Singapore Damar have been particularly active. Price changes are nominal.
UPHOLSTERY AND BEDDING SUPPLIES
During the early part of March, the domestic burlap market was distinctly dull, and transactions were SO meager that there was difficulty in getting at the true state of the market. Consumers seemed to be well supplied and wholesalers and importers were awaiting developments in consequence of changed conditions at the sources of supply. Toward the end of the month much more interest was shown, especially in the heavy weight descriptions. Some cheap lots were disposed of and the market well cleaned up. Quotations on jute moved up steadily, but burlap prices remained steady nearly up to the end of the month.
April 1st, 80 per cent. of the Calcutta mills started on a five-day-a-week schedule, which is to continue for five months, and the market both here and abroad reacted at once. Considerable excitement prevailed in Calcutta and prices moved up sharply, both on nearby and future positions. The consumptive demand was not sufficient to warrant this, and the movement so far seems to be mainly speculative, but it will undoubtedly be felt here. There is no suggestion of a scarcity unless the demand should broaden out suddenly, but domestic holders feel that their position is stronger and prices have been moved up all along the line. Carload lots of 1012 oz. 40s are At this quoted at $5.70 to $5.75, and 11 oz. at 6 cents. writing, there seems to be little chance of lower prices, with a fair prospect of further advances when the demand brightens.
The yield of cotton linters this year reached a new record of 600,000 bales. As a result of improved machinery, there has been a closer delinting of the seed from year to year, and production has doubled in the past five years. Prices show a distinctly weaker tendency as
Prices on hair and other upholstery fibers have not changed materially and there seems to be no immediate prospect of fluctuations. The increasing use of horsehair in various manufacturing trades is something of a factor in the situation, but has not assumed material importance.
A Department in Which is Collected Observations in and About Factories, With Comment Pertinent and Impertinent, on Things, Men and Measures
By A. B. MAINE
DD to the list of electrically operated plants the name of the Caswell-Runyon Co., Huntington, Ind., but above all, put it in the list of safety always plants. Every machine in this plant that should be guarded has a guard and the right kind of a guard, too. They thought the rip-saw guards ought to be a little wider than they are made by the guard manufacturers, so they made their own. When visiting the factory with Mr. Runyon, we came to the spindle shaper. The operator was shaping some material by use of a form, and he also had the guard down over the spindle. As we turned away, I remarked that most places considered the use of the form sufficiently safe without the use of the guard, and I was quietly informed that it was the policy of that factory to see how much they could use the guards, not how little. This factory was busy trying to catch up with the orders for cedar chests. They have the up-to-date equipment of endless bed sanders, "little wonders," and spraying machines.
farm, and you have to cross it to get to the factory. When the corn gets high, I should think it would be rather difficult to find the factory, but since both are productive, Fred is not worrying. Taken as a whole, I
A. B. MAINE
The Wasmuth-Endicott Co., Andrews, Ind., have been getting so much business that the management is seriously contemplating the building of an addition. It was a source of pleasure to go through this plant and see the material start from the lumber yard, go through the dry kiln and to the various operations in logical order, finally coming to the shipping-room a crated kitchen cabinet. They unload their rough lumber from the cars to a kiln car, and hold it in the yard until they are ready for it. Then they run it into the kiln at one end and in the course of time it comes out the other end right where the cut-off saws are. Then it is on trucks all the time until it reaches the assembly room. That is, except when it is being worked. They think a lot of the value of rolling stock there, and if you could see the way things move through the factory you would think a lot, too.
Just as they do not make anything but "Fords" in the Ford factory, so they do not make anything but table slides in the factory of B. Walter & Co., Wabash, Ind., and no one has it on this plant when it comes to specializing. This is another factory that shows its faith in "rolling stock" by using it. Trucks are in good use and nothing goes on the floor to be picked up again. You may not see so many of the company's table slides as you do Ford machines, but the reason is because you do not observe the slides that are on the dining-room table. When you do that you will realize more than ever that the makers are specialists, and that their product is in universal usage.
Fred Barber is the Barber Manufacturing Co., of Anderson, Ind. The plant makes spiral springs and constructions for davenports, seats and other things. His plant was busy when I called and the indications were that it would continue so. I don't know whether he runs his factory or his farm as a side line. He has some
think he has the right idea. The man who has a few hundred acres to look after has to get out in the air and is not apt to get the consumption or grow round-shouldered over the desk.
"How is business?" I asked C. P. Griest, manager of the Marion (Ind.) Chair Co. His reply was: "Good, and getting better. We have about all we can handle, and have today received the largest amount in orders that we have received since the first of January." A visit to the factory confirmed his statement. Every one was on the jump, from the yard to the shipping-room. They
have to hand it to C. P. He has taken a run into the ground plant and put it on the map. Anyway, it is on the edge of the map and it will be way on shortly.
We hear more or less of a "hue and cry" about the mail order houses and their methods of doing business. I have no fight on with them and I don't care what kind of goods they make and sell. Some people wonder how they sell the things they do for so little money. I know part of the answer. In the last three months I have visited many factories that make all kinds of furniture, in four states, and I want to tell you that the most efficiently laid out plants, and the ones that seem to know the most about their costs are the ones that are controlled by, or are making goods for, the mail order houses. There is something for the other fellow to think about.
The quality of the work, some efficiency, and also safety depends on little things. Take, for instance, the guides on a shop band-saw. They require some care in their adjustment, because a guide may do lots of good or lots of harm, depending on how it is used.
The Diehl Machine, Co., Wabash, Ind., is another of the smaller plants that I found with orders booked up ahead. One of this company's latest productions is a selffeed jointing rip-saw that seems to be making a hit in wood-working circles and, of course, the glue-room appliances that they make are well known.
The Powell-Myers Lumber Co., South Bend, Ind., have some live wires connected with the organization. They are specialists in hardwood dimension stock, and it is possible for the furniture manufacturer to get his cutting bills taken care of through this company.
I had a new experience waiting for me when I called at the Peru (Ind.) Chair Co.'s factory. A lady showed me over the plant, and I want to assure you that the new experience was a pleasant one. You bet I am going back again when I get a chance. The factory is not
what you call large, but it is compact, and they turn out the goods. This is one of the very busy plants that I saw in March and early April. The other busy ones were small ones, too, which leads me to think that in these "watchful, waiting" times the small fellow is getting more proportionately than the large one.
A year ago the Indiana Manufacturing Co., Peru, Ind., was just emerging from the flood waters that changed the face of the land in that section of the country, and it was emerging in the shape that would have struck discouragement into the souls of anyone but a family of fighters. When a mammoth plant gets submerged to such an extent that its first floor is ten feet below the water mark, and when two million feet of lumber go floating down the river, one would be justified in looking for a new factory site, and beginning a plan of retrenchment. Not so with this company. As soon as possible it began operations on a larger scale than ever, and furthermore it began to put new equipment in and to remodel the factory.
First it became converted to the benefits of the electric · drive, and it went farther than most factories go in this direction. So far as possible every machine is equipped with its individual motor attached to its machine base. If the growth of the factory makes a movement necessary, all that needs to be done is to move a machine to its logical place, attach the wires, throw in the switch, and the machine is ready for operations. By the proper routing of work, the material passes through seven operations without touching the floor or being put on a truck. Before the flood there were seven single surfacers doing the work that is now being done by one electrically driven double surfacer. As we went through the plant, Mr. Shirk drew our attention to an automatic glue jointer that is on the market for $10,000, and advised us that he considered it the best investment that he had ever made. That is only a few of the things that have been done since the waters claimed a small fortune from this one plant. When asked if it was considered safe to continue in the same place after such flood havoc, we were informed that before they had another flood there would be ample protection to keep the waters from the city. Truly, some hearts know not the word fear.
One of the most pleasant trips we ever had was in the company of D. E. Ewell, who represents the SherwinWilliams Co., varnish manufacturers, and Wm. J. Mulholland, of the Interstate Adjustment Co., mercantile collectors. Both are out of Cleveland. I had "met up" with the former in the lobby of the Bearss hotel, in Peru, Ind.,and we happened to run in with each other the next afternoon on the way to Marion. The former came into the train as it was pulling out, and though the two run
out of the same city, it was evident that they had not seen each other for some time, for they greeted each other like two long-lost brothers. Ewell had one of the last issues of the little publication his house issues for its representatives. In it the president of the company had given him a little puff for the work that he was doing, and he was as pleased as a child with a new toy. I don't blame him any. If I worked for a house that was not as quick with its boosts when they were deserved as it was with its kicks when needed, I would hunt another job. These fellows got talking over old times, and I am not going to let out any confidences, but the talk took me back to the happy days of kidhood when my bosom friend and myself had a fight every other day and between times ran away from school to go fishing. "Them was the happy days." The last warning that I received was to be sure to make Cleveland in time for the opening baseball game of the season. I didn't make it, but I sure wanted to like thunder.
It has been remarked that laziness has perhaps induced quite as many labor-saving inventions as any other one cause. Wonder if that cause had anything to do with the self-feed rip-saw being perfected?
Man, put your life above the dollar.
A Morton Catalog
N CATALOG No. 40, issued as a supplement to its regular trade publication, the Morton Dry Kiln Co., Chicago, covers fully, by illustration and description, the comparative merits and proper use of progressive, compartment, pocket and box kilns. The book is a complete manual of kiln operation and in connection with the lumber drying devices of the Chicago manufacturers, offers an effective remedy in cases where kilning has become a serious problem. Methods of installation also are described, together with reproductions of the Morton kilns in actual use.
WANTED MANUFACTURERS TO LOCATE in a live Upper Michigan city. Good shipping facilities, rail and water; cheap electric power; plenty of good sites on water front; labor in abundance; accessible to good timber, suitable for wagon works, sash and doors, woodenware factory, box factories, etc. Live commercial association is anxious to coöperate with any manufacturer wishing to locate in Gladstone, Mich. For further information, address, Secretary, The Gladstone Commercial Assn., Gladstone, Mich.