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turers before any of these industries had felt the corrective, the restraining and the constructive touch of association fellowship.
Today many lines of industry are without association organization-or if not without it, the association is only a shell holding the musty and mildewed meat of a disappointed purpose to control prices by means of the "gentlemen's agreement."
This sort of an association is worse than no association at all.
It carries an inherited taint, a legacy of disgrace, a memory of an ignoble and dishonorable motive. It is far better to start with a clean slate than with one that has a black mark across it.
The Modern Association
The modern association that is true to type is a clean and sanitary association, crystallized around a common purpose to inspire every man in the industry to work for the general good of all, even at the sacrifice of some real or fancied personal advantage.
It is a clean-handed thing-the representative business association of today that is reaching out a firm and steady arm to correct trade abuses, to save waste, to stop leaks, to eliminate false motion and obsolete methods, to standardize better trade practices, to prevent the debasement of product, to learn the real truth about costs every year and to train the telescope of intelligent and scientific inquiry upon distant fields of trade as yet unsurveyed and undeveloped.
These are only a few of the things that a live, wellmanaged and consistently maintained business association can and will do for the industry that it represents; there are many other useful purposes that it will serve, but any two or three of these are enough to more than justify the expenditure of the money, the energy and the time required to form and perpetuate such an association.
I do not believe that a single one of these results is possible to the majority of the members of any industry excepting through the fellowship and the intelligent coöperation of a typical modern association.
What Common Sense Should Dictate
I will freely admit that it ought to be, that good common sense ought to induce any individual manufacturer to act as intelligently, as honestly, as carefully, as considerately and as constructively just as an individual unit, as if he knew that his competitors would all follow the same high course that he himself had mapped
Abstractly he ought to do this; but actually he does not do it, and probably never would do it. The mere fact of cooperative action eliminates at the start a multitude of fears and difficulties.
Then, too, it should be remembered that in coöperative action the big man, the strong and the upright man pitches the key and sets the pace.
Under the old system of frenzied competition, or trade feuds, of merciless bushwhacking under the name of free competition, many a decent man felt himself obliged to descend to tricks and tactics of which he was ashamed; he felt himself forced to be meaner and crookeder and smaller than he really wanted to be. And he justified himself on the plea that self-preservation is the first law of nature, that business was war, and that war was hell!
But under an association that is true to type, this tendency is reversed, the power of gravitation pulls upward instead of downward; the cleanest men and the cleanest policies naturally prevail.
It is one thing for a man to follow a low line of trade policy, to turn a contemptible trade trick when acting
alone and when he feels that he has his back to the wall and is fighting for self-preservation. But it is quite another thing for him to stand before his fellows and advocate such a policy or to attempt to justify such a trick, when he feels that his competitors are with him and are actuated by an earnest purpose to put the whole industry on a sounder, a saner and higher plane.
The Best Instead of the Worst Comes Out In the atmosphere of the modern trade association that has been conceived in righteousness and brought forth in the spirit of progress, the best instead of the worst that is in every man is called into action. Perhaps this is one reason why the fellowship that one finds in a real modern association does so much to smother suspicion, to inspire mutual confidence and to call into play the constructive talents of every man who mingles frankly with his fellows and thereby finds that his once hated competitor is of like clay with himself and is neither a brigand, a bandit nor a pirate.
I do not delude myself for a moment with the dream that the business association or the federation of associations is going to bring in a trade millennium. But I do believe that they are going to drive out from ordinary business practice methods that ought to make any man blush, tricks that are tolerated today only because long usage has made them traditions; subterfuges and shams that have sneaked into business usage under the stress of trade feuds as bitter, as senseless, and as wasteful as the warfare that has made Breathitt county famous. Will Soon Be Obsolete
I am willing to go on record with the prophecy that in five years from the date of this gathering the industry that has not a live working association consistently devoted to waste saving, to the correction of trade abuses and the standardization of products and practices, to trade building and to the conservation of supplies of raw materials will be regarded with both curiosity and suspicion.
It will be looked upon as being as old-fashioned and as absurd as would the toastmaster of this banquet if he would walk down State street tomorrow morning clothed in bagging trousers of doeskin, a bottle-green swallowtail coat, ruffled shirt and a fuzzy bell crowned hat and carrying in his hand the most ancient remnant of a carpet-bag that could be unearthed in the attic of any farm house in Connecticut.
And I also believe that these associations that are
intimately related in serving the consumer with the products that he demands will be as surely and as closely federated as the forces of organized labor are federated today.
This will come to pass not because there is any hope that in the association, or in the federation of associations, a way can be developed by which to whip the devil around the stump and evade the law that says pricefixing is a penal act, and that combination in restraint of trade is a crime, but because it is the sane, the sensible, the economic, the constructive and the ethical thing to do; because it means better business, cleaner business, and more honest and efficient service to the ultimate con
COSTING FOR FURNITURE INDUSTRY
What May be Accomplished Through Uniform System of Cost Accounting Applied to the Industry---Standardization Important but Not a Cure-All
By FREDERICK B. SMITH
President of the Wolverine Manufacturing Co., Detroit, Mich.
HERE are two phases of the cost and efficiency question as to what benefits may be obtained from a federated cost system. First, I would like to speak for a few moments on the question of what constitutes a proper method, and second, the proper maintenance of such a method of cost and efficiency. Under the first heading I would suggest that: (a) It is a system that should give accurate information economically.
(b) It is an efficiency plan that enables an executive to know how and where to cut down operating expenses safely, from a careful analysis of the reports brought in, and where the overheads are higher in departments than they should be, and where the product turned out is not up to the amount it should be, based on cost of labor and material.
(c) It is a plan that enables an executive to know definitely that all items are properly included in overheads, and by that I mean that everything that is not charged directly to labor or material must be included in overhead.
(d) The proper cost system is connected with and is a part of the accounting end of the business, and not only shows the analysis of labor, material and overheads by departments, but also furnishes a balance of your business, and a correct statement of the business situation monthly, or in other words, a perfect running inventory, and complete balance sheet. It eliminates all questions of estimations of materials, and gets down to brass tacks on consumption and distribution of material and labor, so at the end of each month you are enabled to know whether you are making a profit or a loss without waiting until the end of the year, and also enables you to know whether your materials, your stock in process, and your finished stock, are in the right proportions to the volume of your business. It gives you a direct pulse. In other words, a proper system is one that is economically installed by a master, not a student, of your business, who comes in with a definite idea of economizing your business effort, but not necessarily to revolutionize your methods.
A considerable amount might be said on this most important and vital subject. There is fully as much. danger, in my opinion, of overdoing the cost and efficiency proposition as not doing it at all, and a purely theoretical man can create havoc in a plant. There are all kinds of cost and efficiency men out offering their services, who know practically nothing of the woodworking business, but who would establish a plan based entirely upon their own individual accounting experi
working plant should not employ a first-class system simply because there are men about who do not accomplish the desired results, than there is that a sick man should not employ a capable physician or surgeon because there are a good many quacks abroad. No well-conducted business today should be without an intelligent and up-to-date accounting cost and efficiency plan.
This naturally leads me to the second part of what I have to say, and that is the all important question of maintenance of the system after once installed. No possible good can be obtained from any plan unless it is intelligently and earnestly kept up each day, and that is particularly true of anything that relates to cost accounting. It must be absolutely kept up, and all reports in such shape that they can be called upon by an executive for reliable information whenever desired, and daily, weekly and monthly reports should be laid upon his desk, giving him a direct knowledge of departments. This can only be accomplished if the proper people are in charge of the work, and in sympathy with it, and there is just as much danger of inefficiency in the carrying out of well set up plans in this direction as there is in not having any system at all. In other words, an inefficient cost system is more dangerous than no system because in one case you depend upon your estimates, which give you some idea of your business, and in the other case you are getting incomplete and misleading information.
When the system has once been installed, the organization as a whole must take hold of it in the right spirit. It should be kept entirely apart from the factory side so far as compiling information is concerned, and yet work in harmony with the factory end of the business, so far as furnishing information as to the conditions that exist is concerned. It should work entirely apart from the sales department, and yet it should be in such shape that the executive can immediately point out to the sales department that certain patterns of goods are unprofitable, and thereby enable him to know that there is no purpose in their further continuance.
It certainly is just as important to discontinue an unprofitable pattern, and more important than it is to add a new one to the line. The danger with us all is the broadening of our lines. We, as manufacturers, are apt to carry among our good sellers unprofitable patterns. In other words, a cost department should enable an executive to know when it is time to get busy and discontinue an unprofitable pattern. The close patterns are apt to sell too well, and the unprofitable ones not sufficiently.
It is the profit or loss account each month that tells the story. But if the proper cost and efficiency methods work out, it does not take long for the departments of a business to work in harmony with it, and the various departments will have results each month to know whether they are gaining or losing, and that is really the one important thing of any modern enterprise.
Andrew Carnegie was once asked to exhibit the most interesting and valuable part of his business, and took
his guests into the office, where the costing was being done, and said: "Gentlemen, this is the most valuable part of our business because it tells us where we are at." Now this leads me up to the question: How can a manufacturing institution obtain this information most desired; who can install the proper kind of a system; how can it be properly maintained? I believe I am safe in saying that a great many plants today haven't attempted to install a cost system, because they do not know what system to put in, what it would cost to operate it, and that, in my opinion, is where the federation of cost and efficiency will help the various plants in establishing more universal cost knowledge in their business, and thereby benefit the industry as a whole. I think I am safe in saying further that the average manufacturer who has had any experience and established a system that is satisfactory to himself, is willing to place that knowledge at the disposal of other manufacturers for the purpose of benefiting the industry as a whole. If a uniform plan can be worked out that will give general satisfaction, which I understand has been done to quite an extent in some branches of our industry, not only the members who haven't established a proper cost system will be benefited, but an exchange of knowledge on the part of those who now employ systems will be beneficial. In other words, if a number of our leading manufacturers put all their knowledge in a melting pot, through a proper plan, and get it simmered down to what is good for the industry, we can establish a general plan, I believe, that will fit the industry as a whole, and I am certain that while Uncle Sam places a restriction on the fixing of a selling price on product, that there is no restriction on establishing a close coöperation on a combination of knowledge of cost and efficiency, and I hope that one of the things that may be done in the near future will be a broader extension and a more universal adaptation of cost and efficiency methods, through a federated movement, by the efforts of this national organization which we are now considering.
I cannot speak from experience on the subject of association costs, but I can speak from a long experience in developing cost and efficiency methods in our own plant, and will be very glad, indeed, to work in harmony with any plan that may be adopted for the good of the industry as a whole.
The only safe plan to pursue today in the light of modern business methods, if we would raise our industry, is to coöperate more closely, to compete with each other, but not combat each other, to establish a community of knowledge and thereby establish a proper legal community of interests.
Let us, my friends, continue to preach a better and more efficient cost knowledge.
Let it be the aim of this organization to standardize the knowledge thus far obtained, and to offer it and urge it upon every manufacturer, until the day comes that it will be considered as essential a part of the business equipment of a wood-working plant as the saw, the planer and the cabinet-maker. Let us do it in the true spirit of brotherhood, that whatever benefits and helps make prosperous the least of these, our brother manufacturers, benefits us all.
Let us do it through a well-organized, well-planned, federated cost organization, under the direction and control of this great national organization.
will continue in service for several months, it will be razed immediately after the close of the summer furniture exhibition. An informal program, which included addresses reminiscent and otherwise, was the feature of the function at which sixty covers were laid.
L. A. Jennings, 79 years of age, and a pioneer merchant and manufacturer of Newcastle, Ind., died April 16th at the age of 79. Mr. Jennings was the president of the American Furniture Manufacturers association in 1892.
Christian A. Becklinger, who was the controlling owner of the Thompson Furniture Co., of New Duluth, Minn., died there the latter part of April. He was 64 years of age. He leaves, besides a widow, three children. He had been active in promoting the industries of New Duluth since it was incorporated.
O. R. Wilmarth, who was the vice-president of the Wilmarth Show Case Co., Grand Rapids, died on May 25th at his home in Grand Rapids. He was 81 years of age. His death was the first break in his immediate family in 60 years. Six sisters, all widowed, are still living. Besides his sisters, he is survived by two daughters and two sons. He had been a resident of Grand Rapids since 1857.
Conrad Fraas, a pioneer in the furniture industry of Brooklyn, N. Y., died at his home April 6th, aged 85. Mr. Fraas, who was engaged in the manufacture of furniture at 9 Cook street for years, was a native of Bavaria and came to this country in 1857, when he settled in Brooklyn. Mr. Fraas was succeeded upon his retirement several years ago by his son, John, who continued the business successfully until his own retirement. He also is survived by a son, Ferdinand, a member of the firm of Fraas & Miller, and one daughter.
J. P. Redding, of High Point, N. C., who first engaged in the furniture business by purchasing the Barker furniture factory and who was afterward instrumental in organizing the Alma Furniture Co., died there on the 12th of April. He had been critically ill for six months. He was 59 years of age, and had been a resident of North Carolina since 1890. He had served as a member of the common council, was a director in the Commercial National bank, and two other of the financial institutions of the city, and was deeply interested in religious and financial matters. He had traveled extensively. He leaves a widow and five children.
Gust C. Peterson, superintendent of the Level Furniture Company, of Jamestown, N. Y., has been elected alderman to represent the Fourth ward in his home town. C. E. Zerfass, long with the Yeager Furniture Co., of Allentown, Pa., is to represent Thonet Bros. and the Reischmann Co. in the metropolitan district, with headquarters at the show-room of the firms named at 14 East 32nd St., New York.
Sam S. Simonds is no longer connected with the Barnard & Simonds Co., of Rochester, N. Y., with which he had been associated since the days when Elgin Simonds was the controlling spirit in the company. The Barnard & Simonds Co. is an incorporated company and Mr. Simonds was not a director of the company.
John Hutchinson, who has finally sold all his interest in the Faribault Furniture Co., of Faribault, Minn., will travel extensively and has in contemplation a trip to Europe. It has only been in recent years that he has felt he could get away from the business with which he has been so long connected.
A Statement of How Manufacturers in Other Lines Than Furniture Book Orders Months Ahead--Gambling Game the Furniture Manufacturers Play
By CHAS. E. SPRATT
OLONEL NELSON, of the Kansas City Star, when asked by the New York Herald for his opinion with regard to the President's attitude toward Huerta, replied: "We are not furnishing advice to the president of the United States; we are supporting him." I feel pretty much in the same attitude today in talking of a branch of our industry that has made such progress in the "oneline-a-year" movement as the upholstered furniture manufacturers. Led by the frame manufacturers, you have, I am advised, made the pioneer step in this movement that will mean so much to help place furniture manufacturing upon its proper level among the great industries of the country and give it a chance to earn its fair share of profit.
inquiry: "Let me see the latest spring style in library suites," or "What is to be this fall's fad in davenports?" Never. People buy furniture to live with it for life and not to discard it in a season as they would a hat or even an automobile. But I will tell you what does happen: Whenever the new goods appear on the floor of the retail store, the salesman, alert for a talking point, will single it out to the customer with a proud boast that it's the newest thing from the factory and it immediately takes on a special interest to the susceptible consumer, and the poor old pattern of six months ago, that has no material difference in general appearance or usefulness, becomes obsolete and diminishes in value. Back goes the salesman to his confreres with the message "That new stuff is certainly great," and the goods that were prime the day before become candidates for
CHAS. E. SPRATT
So I am not here to give advice, but to speak a few words of support and encouragement and to express the hope that your success will be so marked that all other branches of the industry will see the wisdom of your course and follow your lead. How the system of two lines a year ever became engrafted on the trade is beyond my comprehension, unless it was through wild and unchecked competition. There was, perhaps, some reason for it twentyfive years ago when every factory had a style all its own, when American furniture could find no name in the lexicon of art to cover its monstrosities, and every designer was racking his brain to bring forth something unheard of, and the more freakish the better it suited the buyer and the public, apparently.
But those days of welsh rabbit and nightmare furniture have past and today, with the increasing call for the severity of Mission on one hand and the reproductions of standard styles on the other, the conditions are vastly different. It is no longer a question of what new thought can be evolved, but how correctly and economically can we reproduce the undying art of the Adams brothers, of Sheraton, of Chippendale, of the blend of all in the Colonial, or of the immortal Morris and the simplicity of the monks.
The Demand for Good Furniture
Can new ideas be dragged every recurring six months from the legacies left by these geniuses? And, mark me, gentlemen, as long as the magazines, the Sunday supplements and the public schools of the country keep up their splendid campaign of education in the beauty of real, clean and pure art in the decoration and furnishing of the home, you are going to see no diminution in the demand of the public for the better in furniture. With the coming into purchasing age of the rising generation, nothing but the best will find a market, and woe to the maker of the mongrel pattern.
Even from the most sordid commercial view, can there be found any reason for the freak design and its natural sequence, two lines a year. Can you imagine customers flocking into the furniture store with the
An address delivered before the meeting of the National Association of Upholstered Furniture Manufacturers held in Chicago, May 12, 1914.
the next "sale." And that point sounds a note that I have heard hundreds of dealers dwell on in their advocacy of one line a year. Under such a regime they could, and would, buy with a confidence that their purchases would be worth par for at least a year, which would mean so much to them and to you. Never doubt for a moment but that you have the thinking dealer behind you in this one-line-a-year campaign.
But we are all agreed, so it is difficult to get up an argument of this subject here among its friends, so let us pass on to another phase of the question, in which we may not agree so completely, and perhaps we can stir up some excitement. I refer to the date of opening and believe I can prove that May 1st is the only logical date.
In Other Trades
Gambling has no place in the conduct of a legitimate business and surely not in the manufacturing of furniture. And yet we find under the July-January system that the manufacturer bases the operations of his plant largely on guess work, which he must do or be so late in his deliveries that he has no chance for duplicate orders before another season is upon him.
What are the conditions in other industries? WOOLEN MANUFACTURERS:-Goods for fall use are shown beginning in December of the year before, but showing continues through January, February and March. Deliveries are made at varying times depending upon the wishes of the purchasers and their character, whether jobbers, dealers or manufacturers of clothing. Goods (excepting some staples) are not manufactured until after orders are received and so far as possible manufacture is confined to bona fide orders.
MEN'S CLOTHING:-Sample or model garments are made to be shown in April and May for delivery in July, August and September for fall wear. Spring models are shown in October, November and early in December for delivery in January, February and March. Manufacture proceeds as goods are sold and after demand for differing models or styles has been ascertained.
MEN'S FELT HATS:-Samples of fall hats are shown
in April, May and June for delivery in July, August and September. Spring samples shown in October, November and December for delivery in January, February and March. Manufacture in quantities proceeds only after samples are shown and demand has been ascertained.
STRAW HATS (Men's):-Samples are made ready for exhibition beginning July 1st for the season of the following year-about ten months before the opening of the next retail season. Manufacture, on any large scale, proceeds only after the receipt of orders. Practically every hat manufactured is sold before manufacture.
CROCKERY:-The main selling season is from January to April for delivery in the following fall. The manufacture of white articles may proceed at all times, but the decorations make goods seasonable and these are not applied, except as to samples, until after the samples are exhibited to the buyers. Speculation as to the demand is eliminated so far as possible. Import orders are placed a full year in advance and in many instances even longer.
SILKS-Samples are made and shown (for fall wear) in February and March for delivery to jobbers in June and August, and to retailers in September, October and November. Spring goods samples are shown in September and October for delivery to jobbers from December to March; to retailers, March to June.
WOMEN'S CLOAKS AND SUITS: Of goods for fall wear, samples are shown from May to July; for delivery, July 15th to October. Spring goods samples are shown January and February for delivery beginning in February. Manufacture proceeds only after orders are received and extent of demand for varying styles ascertained. Two weeks ago a display of fall and winter styles was held in New York by the United Fashion Company. Forty-one models were shown and the judgment of more than two thousand of the trade was obtained four months before time for delivery.
BOOTS AND SHOES:-Samples for fall goods are shown in January and February for delivery in July and later. Samples of spring goods are shown in June and July for delivery in March and later. Manufacture proceeds only after samples are shown and demand for styles ascertained.
Compared With Our Own
Now let us take up an industry most closely allied to furniture that of carpets. You all know that the same dealer who buys his fall furniture stock in July, expecting practically immediate delivery, will go to the carpet market May 1st and place his fall order practically before he has put a pair of shears in his spring stock, which, by the way, he bought the preceding November. Why? Simply because the carpet manufacturer, as well as all others I have named, refuses flatly to base his great business operations on a guess. He will take a chance on making up a wide range of patterns-samples only, however-but he will not start a vast quantity of raw material through the mill on a pure gamble.
And the furniture manufacturer, least of all, should take this chance. His product is so bulky that if he guesses wrong, not only is he making up a lot of stock that must ultimately be sacrificed, but his plant is clogged up and the saleable patterns in his line are seriously impeded in their progress; whereas, if he made up samples only and had the judgment of the buyer in May for delivery September 1st, cuttings would be in proportion to sales and his merchandise would reach the shippingroom in the exact proportion that the shipping clerk demands it.
His patterns are on the floor of the dealer at the very opening of the fall trade, and his repeat orders can be obtained and filled in time for delivery, and the line reap the full reward its merits entitle it to. This can never be the case if fall orders are taken in July, simply because no human brain can guess the proportions in
which a line will sell and no business can be made successful that is based on guessing or commercial gambling. Only on April 12th, last, the great Chicago dry goods house of Farwell issued a statement that "Road men taking orders for the fall report good general conditions." Need we ask why the dry goods industry is more successful than furniture? No; they begin taking fall orders in March and April, not in July and August, and you, gentlemen, have only to decide whether you want to be manufacturers; sane, sensible, level-headed business men, or mercantile gamblers; whether you want to sell your goods in May and deliver them in August and September, or sell them in July and deliver them in October, when the retail season is on the wane.
The Extension Table Men
ARDWOOD grade rules of 1913 were unanimously condemned as an effort to juggle price through reduction of grades by the members of the Central Bureau of Extension Dining Table Manufacturers, who attended the nineteenth mass conference of the organization held in the Auditorium Hotel, Chicago, May 12 and 13. The delegates, who firmly opposed the constant changing of rules, resolved to demand the rules of 1912 to apply to all lumber purchases.
Varying from the policy of the last three years, when no efforts were made in the solicitation of new members, the proposal to invite desirable non-members to make application was approved and it was decided that $150 of the $200 admittance fee be credited on dues of all new applicants for a period of ninety days. A membership committee of three was appointed.
The address of President J. A. Conrey, of Shelbyville, welcoming the 47 delegates present, was followed by the report of Commissioner M. Wulpi on the work of the table bureau and the efforts of the credit and collection department. Favorable impression was made by the work of the organization along this line.
In the report of President Conrey on the annual meeting of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which he attended as delegate, the board work of the national body was outlined and its activity in connection with the commercial interests of the country endorsed. A donation of $50 was voted toward the deficit of 1913 in the work of the national organization, in which the table bureau holds membership.
The delegates were addressed by A. C. Brown, of Hastings, Mich., on the newly adopted "Table Bureau Factory Burden Schedule"; by E. Tyden on "The Difference Between Factory Cost System and Efficiency"; by W. H. Waechter, of Sheboygan, Wis., on "Advertising as Applicable to the Furniture Line"; by F. S. Foote, of Grand Rapids, on "Individualism in Production"; by W. V. Dixon, of Evansville, Ind., on "Selling Furniture to the Retailer"; by Charles C. Wilmot on "Hooking Up Factory Costs and Office Accounting," and by A. W. Dassler of Milwaukee on his observations while in attendance at a furniture retailers' convention. Mr. Dassler was enthusiastic in his advocacy of close relations between retailer and manufacturer.
Under new business, it was determined to install in the central bureau office at once a "Costing and Cost Consulting Department," in which the bureau delegates were given power to act.
Standard finish again received consideration and a committee was appointed to take up the effort of standardizing fumed finishes and to cooperate with other furniture lines in this regard.
Majority sentiment favored Pittsburgh as the meetingplace for the October annual gathering.