Interview with Henri Lindsey, 1968 August 22 [audio]

Hagley ID:
  • Early life and education; Work and DuPont consolidation; Work at the Repauno Chemical Company
    Keywords: Chesapeake City, Md.; Consolidation; Du Pont, A. Felix (Alexis Felix), 1879-1948; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; Eastern Dynamite Company; Edgemoor Bridge Works; Forcite Powder Company; Goldey College; Hercules Powder Company; Laflin & Rand Powder Company; New York Powder Company; Repauno Chemical Company; Sterling Dynamite Company
    Transcript: Scafidi: Lindsey, could you give us some of your family background: where you were born, brothers and sisters, etc.

    Lindsey: I was born in Chesapeake City, Maryland and had no brothers or sisters: I was an only child. I came to Wilmington in 1893.

    Scafidi: How old were you then?

    Lindsey: I was 16 years old. I came to Goldey College. I graduated from there and went to work with Edgemoor Bridge Work as stenographer and remained 2 years. I then became associated with the Repauno Chemical Company who had offices on the top floor of the Equitable Building.

    Scafidi: Where was this building located as far as present day down-town Wilmington goes?

    Lindsey: The Equitable Building 9th and Market. I worked in the Sales Department. Charles L. Patterson was General Sales Manager. He had an assistant, W. A. Sullivan. And a private secretary, John Matthews. He had a gentleman who handled the Trade Record Division, George H. Kerr, and myself. Five of us in that Department handled the sales correspondence and sales of six different companies.

    Scafidi: Which were the six companies?

    Lindsey: The New York Powder Company, The Forcite Powder Company, the Sterling Dynamite Company, the Eastern Dynamite Company and the Repauno Chemical Company and Hercules Powder Company.

    Scafidi: Was this in 1896?

    Lindsey: Yes, and until the consolidation into Du Pont de Nemours we expanded rapidly and finally had to have larger quarters. We took quarters on the second floor of the then new Market Building at 8th and Orange. The Company was growing very rapidly.

    Scafidi: About how rapidly? What I mean is could you compare the amount of correspondence between the time that you came there and the year that you are talking about? Did the volume rise?

    Lindsey: Yes, the volume was increasing all around. The Company at the time of consolidation took in the Repauno Chemical Company and that was in 1903 and divided the Sales Department into two divisions, Eastern and Western. I was put in charge of the correspondence of the Western division. We continued there until the new DuPont Building was erected, the first section at 10th and Market. We then moved up there and I was put in charge of the Sales Order Division.

    Scafidi: When you were with Repauno before the consolidation of the Company did you feel that you were working for the DuPont Company or did you have the feeling that Repauno was completely separate?

    Lindsey: We knew certain du Ponts were interested but Repauno was separate. When the consolidation came about we switched over very naturally to DuPont. Of course we didn't have anything to do prior to that with the black powder business because that was all handled from the Brandywine.

    Scafidi: Who was President of Repauno when you came in 1896? Was Haskell President of Repauno?

    Lindsey: No, Haskell was President of Laflin & Rand Powder Company: that is J. A. Haskell. He had nothing to do with the dynamite end of the business. Our business was high explosives.

    Ellsworth: Who was President of Repauno when you came?

    Lindsey: Lammot du Pont, Sr. Being connected with Repauno, other than in the Sales Department, was H. M. Barksdale, Alexis I. du Pont, Sr. who was nominally active but not actually, W. J. McManus the head of the Accounting Department, Frank Tanner, Walter Layfield, J. W. Burns, Operating Department, that was about the line-up of the organization at that time.

    Scafidi: Who first hired you at Repauno? Do you remember the man's name at all, what positions he held?

    Lindsey: I was hired by W. A. Sullivan, assistant Director of Sales of Explosives.

    Scafidi: Directly by him or did they not have a Personnel Department?

    Lindsey: Directly. I was working at Edgemoor at the time and had been there a couple of years and one of my associates said he had been offered a job with the Repauno Chemical Company. He didn't want it: if I wanted it to look into it: so I came into Wilmington and went to see George H. Kerr. He referred me to Sullivan. I came to see Sullivan and he hired me.

    Ellsworth: Is there any particular reason that you went to see George Kerr?

    Lindsey: Yes, I wanted the job.

    Ellsworth: You had heard about Kerr from your friend?

    Lindsey: Yes, George Kerr was employed by that Division.

    Scafidi: Did you know what Repauno did? Was it widely spread?

    Lindsey: Oh, yes, I knew all about that. I knew it was backed by the DuPont's, etc. I had a very happy time there: 1896 the year McKinley was elected. As we grew I told you I was in charge of the correspondence of the Central Division.

    Ellsworth: Could you describe a little bit the type of sales organization, the office, how Patterson had organized the sales force when you first came to Repauno in '96? What type of contact did the office have with the salesmen? What type of salesmen did you have?

    Lindsey: Well, we had active salesmen of course all over the country. We had agents in the Michigan area, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, very little on the west coast at that time. I knew all of the agents intimately because my contact was with them.

    Scafidi: Can you tell us: do you remember any outstanding agents? Outstandingly good, outstandingly bad?

    Lindsey: Well, George S. Oliver was agent in Chicago, W. C. Howard was agent in Denver, Fred C. Peters was agent in New York. I would say that perhaps they were the outstanding ones. A. B. Temby, Boston, W. J. Webster, Pittsburgh, Charles Perry, Birmingham, F. D. Orr, Duluth, F. J. Bawden, Houghton, Michigan, Bob Matthew, San Francisco.

    Ellsworth: Did these gentlemen sell on commission or were they salary?

    Lindsey: They were salaried employees.

    Ellsworth: Do you know when that began with Repauno? When did Repauno begin having salaried employees rather than commission agents?

    Lindsey: They never had commission agents to my knowledge. They had salaried employees right through.

    Scafidi: Did the Repauno agent handle other explosive products beside your own? No black powder?

    Lindsey: No, the black powder people had their own agents.

    Scafidi: A separate organization altogether?

    Lindsey: A separate organization entirely. I couldn't give you an outline of all their agencies because I wasn't in contact with them. Not familiar with them.

    Ellsworth: What did Patterson actually do when you first came? What type of things did he do?

    Lindsey: He was general sales manager. He controlled sales. We didn't have any actual sales work in our office. It was all administrative.

    Ellsworth: Did he do any type of training of your agents? What type of relationship was there between the agent and the home office?

    Lindsey: Well, the relationship would be natural. We directed and controlled sales policies.
  • Repauno's hiring practices; Work with DuPont; DuPont's split-up; DuPont's acquisition of Fabrikoid; Fringe benefits at DuPont
    Keywords: Atlas Powder Company; Cellulose; Fabrikoid; Golf; Hercules Powder Company; Hiring; Los Angeles, Ca.; Management; Repauno Chemical Company; Stenogrpahers
    Transcript: Scafidi: Did you notice after you got there that they preferred to employ college graduates or whether men just went on experience?

    Lindsey: No, I think they picked a man up if he looked promising whether he was a college man or not. I was not a college man, only a business college man.

    Scafidi: They did no recruiting actively, they didn't try to force their way into a labor pool like college graduating classes as they do today?

    Lindsey: No. As a matter of fact stenographers were at a premium in those days. They had been without a stenographer mind you for two weeks before I came. It wasn't very long though before we had to hire one and then another. I took on the private correspondence and they took on the general. After the consolidation and the first unit of the DuPont Building was erected at 10th and Market we moved in and I was then put in charge of the Sales order Department. That was sort of a monitor on the filling of orders on the plant. We were consolidated into one office but I was responsible for getting what the sales department needed. I was invited in 1917 by J. K. Rogers the sales manager of the Fabrikoid division to become his assistant. I had been recommended by William Coyne, vice president in charge of sales of DuPont, so I went over and shortly thereafter J. K.-6-was retired from that job and put in the Treasurer's Department. Charlie Petz was made Director of Sales and I was still his assistant. In 1921 the sales offices that were in Wilmington were sent to the plants so we landed in Newburgh, New York. Charlie Petz became general manager and I became sales manager. Harry Haon was manager of the plant, Ernie Cathcart was manager of the Fairfield plant, which was the second plant that we handled. About 1924 or 25 we had a change in the management of Newburgh-Fairfield. Nat Wescott formerly of the Development was made manager (Petz having resigned) and he continued until about the time I went to California. He returned to Development Department: a matter of health. A very fine gentleman and I was very fond of him

    Ellsworth: That was the Fabrikoid Division?

    Lindsey: In 1921 at a gathering in New York, the idea was hatched by Henry J. Haon, Manager of Fabrikoid plant at Newburgh and I to form a"25 year Club,” which was done, I as president, he as secretary. I presume it may still exist. I remained sales manager until 1927. I had called a couple of times in Los Angeles visiting our jobbers there. The owner of that agency wanted me to buy him out. I refused at the time but in 1927 I came home with an option in my pocket and after perhaps 30 days I conveyed to W. A. Allen, who was then our general manager, that I was thinking of resigning and taking over this agency. I did. I left for California in December of 1927 and took over that agency which I handled for 20 years and retired in 1949. That's about a bird's eye view of my contact with DuPont. My term with them was a very happy one. They were a wonderful group of men, considerate, able and altogether fine.

    Scafidi: Now, if we can go back into it again and perhaps examine some facets, or let's say, what happened at certain periods of time. I was wondering when the split-up came: when DuPont had split into Hercules and Atlas and DuPont, what happened to personnel in the office?

    Lindsey: Well, just what happened in my division. Atlas took my Chief Clerk and I took on another one. He went over to them in the same capacity that I was with Du Font, and I think they did that quite generally through the Company.

    Scafidi: Did they just tell the person that he would be employed by another company?

    Lindsey: Oh, I guess they gave him the option of course.

    Ellsworth: Did they give you the option to go to DuPont or Atlas or Hercules?

    Lindsey: No, they didn't, and I was glad they didn't. I preferred to remain with the Company.

    Scafidi: What was your feeling, or what was the feeling in your office, when the news of the decision came through. Was this a disaster or did everybody expect it to happen?

    Lindsey: What, the split?

    Scafidi: Yes.

    Lindsey: I think everybody perhaps felt sorry that it happened but there wasn't much you could do about it. They still made three wonderfully strong companies. And that has been proved by time.

    Ellsworth: What was the reaction of the Repauno employees to consolidation in 1903 and 04?

    Lindsey: Oh, I think they were happy enough about it.

    Scafidi: Were the people at Repauno when you first came generally young people or were they older?

    Lindsey: I think the average was, except for minor positions, men of 40 to 45, something like that.

    Scafidi: Was this looked upon as a young staff or an average age?

    Lindsey: The young staff of course was the stenographers or clerks, but the men actually in charge that had experience were of course older men.

    Scafidi: Were these men at Repauno, the men in positions of authority, were they old dynamite men? Had they come up with dynamite when it was pretty much an experimental product?

    Lindsey: Some of them. Now, at that time, the manager of the Repauno works at Gibbstown, N.J. was T. W. Bacchus and before him was Oscar Jackson.

    Scafidi: What happened during World War I? Was your office disrupted by at first the British and French and Russian orders or did things go along pretty well, pretty smoothly?

    Lindsey: Our particular end of the business which had been high explosives was not so much involved, it was to some extent but not as much as Carney's Point. An interesting incident: during the first World War we had some difficulty in replenishing our explosives stocks in Mexico and special Government permits were necessary. In fact, things were so rigid you had to have influence of a substantial type. We had a gentleman with DuPont who had been a member of Congress: a Landis, brother of the famous Judge Kenesaw Landis of Chicago. He accompanied me to Washington and I found that all doors opened to him. We interviewed the Attorney General of the United States and he authorized the necessary permits.

    Scafidi: Did your domestic orders for mining and road building go up?

    Lindsey: Constantly.

    Scafidi: Was this an acceleration of a trend or just a continuing trend from before.

    Lindsey: I think a continuation.

    Ellsworth: When you first tried to introduce Fabrikoid what was the reaction of the people in the market?

    Lindsey: I wasn't with the Fabrikoid Division when it was introduced. It was a company on its own feet before DuPont bought it. It had a plant at Newburgh, N.Y. J. K. Rogers was the sales manager and he came to Wilmington when it was taken over but the Fabrikoid Division expanded very rapidly as did the Fairfield Division. Now the Company has sold the Fabrikoid Division to Stouffer but they still retain Fairfield I believe.

    Scafidi: Why did DuPont buy Fabrikoid?

    Lindsey: As an outlet for cellulose. The base of Fabrikoid coating was cellulose. And DuPont had supplied them and it got to the point where they thought it would be a lucrative adjunct.

    Scafidi: Was this generally agreeable to both sides? DuPont should take it over. That it would be easier that way?

    Lindsey: I think so. And DuPont never did a thing that wasn't agreeable. Now take it in the sale of Fabrikoid to Stouffer. What did they do? They continued their own methods into Stouffer. The employees all had the same privileges, the pensions, etc. that they had before. They can't help but be happy about it.

    Scafidi: When did you notice fringe benefits, not necessarily pensions but things like golf courses, etc. that the company has scattered around this area: when did they start coming in? Do you remember that at all?

    Lindsey: I don't know that I get just what you mean.

    Scafidi: There are branches I think, they are called branches of the DuPont Country Club, courses, golf courses, around here and around some of the plants. There is one by the Experimental Station, one out by the Louviers Buildings in Newark and employees of the Company are allowed to join these and they are a fringe benefit of being employed.

    Lindsey: You are out of my field now because that all happened after I left them. I think that generally all DuPont employees are very happy with their contact with them (DuPont). I was a member of the first golf club where the Experimental Station now is on the Brandywine.
  • Connections with the du Pont family; Fringe benefits at DuPont; Working at Repauno
    Keywords: Benefits; Coated Fabrics Association; du Pont family; Du Pont, Alexis I. (Alexis Iré né e), 1869-1921; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; Eastern Dynamite Company; Office Equipment; Repauno Chemical Company; Rubber Association of America; Stock; Typewriters
    Transcript: Scafidi: Did you have any du Ponts walking through the office or did you have any personal contact in your work with a du Pont or two?

    Lindsey: Oh yes. Dr. Alexis I. du Pont used to come into the office at Repauno about 9 o'clock in the morning. The first thing he did was get the sales correspondence book: a copy book at that time: sit down and read it, and then he'd go visit the various heads of departments. But all those gentlemen were wonderful men. Barksdale was a fine fellow.

    Ellsworth: What was Barksdale doing with Repauno when you came?

    Lindsey: He was treasurer. Treasurer of the Repauno Chemical Company. Of course you understand that Repauno and Du Pont were absolutely separate and distinct. Harry Haskell was with Repauno. J. A. Haskell at that time was President of Laflin & Rand. That of course didn't come into Du Pont until the consolidation. Then Harry Haskell and J. A. Haskell came over.

    Ellsworth: Have you ever heard of the Eastern Dynamite Company?

    Lindsey: Yes.

    Ellsworth: Now what do you know about the Eastern Dynamite Company during the late 1890's?

    Lindsey: Well, I had no direct contact with Eastern Dynamite.

    Ellsworth: Was it an operating company or a holding company?

    Lindsey: It was a holding company.

    Ellsworth: Do you know who was involved in Eastern Dynamite?

    Lindsey: I don't remember just who were involved. Some of the DuPont people and some of the Repauno people I guess.

    Ellsworth: Did you have any contact, even though you were in dynamite, but did you know anything about the Gunpowder Trade Association?

    Lindsey: No, very little. No contact at all with Brandywine.

    Ellsworth: Some people have said that perhaps the Eastern Dynamite Company was the equivalent to the dynamite trade, Repauno and Giant and did the same thing as the Gunpowder Trade Association did for black powder.

    Lindsey: It was, I think. I had no direct contact with them.

    Scafidi: How did men rise in the company? Just by, if you were a bright young man could you expect to go up, or were you held down at a level for a certain number of years?

    Lindsey: No, there was no holding down. I think that they were very generous. I had been there about a year when the correspondence got so heavy that we hired another man to take the main part of it. I took the private correspondence. Then in a short time we hired another one and then another one until the consolidation, as I told you, I became manager of the order department. Took me out of correspondence altogether. No, I think the employees were always treated very well.

    Scafidi: Did they have any reluctance about firing people?

    Lindsey: As long as a man did good work and kept pretty straight he was solid. You can see that by the number of old men around who have been with them until their retirement age.

    Scafidi: Did Fabrikoid have any part in which I believe they called the training program? Young men, college graduates, and send them into the factories at minor posts, part time, to learn.

    Lindsey: I presume that at some time they did but that was not a custom, it wasn't a rule. They didn't look into my qualifications too closely. They knew that I worked for Edgemoor and I wouldn't have worked for Edgemoor if I hadn’ t been all right. But I was just a kid.

    Ellsworth: One historian of the Company has said that many of the changes that came about in the DuPont Company after the consolidation in 1903 actually originated among the younger men of management of Repauno and Eastern Dynamite, Barksdale, this is why I've asked you questions about this period of what type of things you were doing in Repauno, and I understand perhaps Charles Patterson who became head of sales for DuPont after the consolidation was another key man. Do you remember any of the type of -- you worked with all these men -- in fact you handled their personal correspondence – do you remember the type of things they used to talk about that you can think of in terms of management, how they made their decision?

    Lindsey: No, I don't remember very much about that. The smokeless powder ammunition department, Jim Skelly, Ed Banks, W. C. Matthews, I think I mentioned Ernest Proctor, he and Frank Turner went to General Motors, you know. I understand Ernest Proctor is still living here in town. Well, I don't know what else I can tell you. If you have questions I might be able to answer.

    Scafidi: Two things about which I wondered. If you were in Fabrikoid, a division of the DuPont Company, I take it, it was an official division, did you have an opportunity to buy DuPont stock as a fringe benefit?

    Lindsey: Yes. And bonus.

    Scafidi: Was there any rhyme or reason to the way the bonus stock was awarded?

    Lindsey: No.

    Ellsworth: When did they begin awarding: giving you the privilege of bonus stock and extra stock purchase? About when did that begin?

    Lindsey: I forget now. After T. C. du Pont sold his interest to the managers like Coyne and various ones. There is a man that I admired very much. I was very, very fond of him. Whenever I came to Wilmington which was once a month for a sales gathering, I always found time to go and have a little time with him in his private office. He at that time had been retired. He came to DuPont as Traffic Manager and finally he was made Vice President in charge of sales. He was a prince.

    Ellsworth: Which man are you referring to?

    Lindsey: William Coyne. He was a fine man. He did a lot of good that no one ever knew about. He was the one who recommended that I go into Fabrikoid. There was no limit to the possibility of advancement at DuPont. Soon after joining the Fabrikoid Division, at the suggestion of Coyne, J. R. Rogers and I made a tour of the artificial manufacturers with the idea of forming an Association. The idea was received rather coolly at first but finally an agreement was reached and the Coated Fabrics Association was formed with monthly meetings in New York. DuPont also became a member of the Rubber Association of America. I represented DuPont in both Associations. My duties made it necessary to occasionally go to Montreal and Toronto where DuPont had an interest in the Canadian Explosives, who had an artificial plant at Toronto. H. Cotton, General Manager and W. A. Pnotle (sp), salesman, later General Manager after Cotton's death. The membership of the Coated Fabrics Association was: The O'Bannon Corp. Zapon Co.Chase Co. – Boston Nevealeck Co. – Boston W. A. Briggs Co. – Boston Duratex Co.: Newark, N.J. Athol Co.: Mass. Toledo Art Leather: Toledo Watson Art Leather – Chicago Textileather Co.: Newark, N.J. Masland Leather Co.: Phila. Du Pont J. B. D. Edge was another very fine fellow that I liked. He was Traffic Manager following Coyne, and then he became Purchasing Agent. I could give you the names of many others that I have associated with at times and very few of them living. Walter Simpson, Ed Ferriday, Leslie Mahoney, Eugene du Pont.

    Ellsworth: Is this Eugene du Pont who was president of the Company?

    Lindsey: No, that was his father. This is Eugene Jr., and then there was a Eugene E. du Pont, a cousin. He just died here a short while ago. They were both in our Department and I got quite well acquainted with them.

    Ellsworth: How mechanized was the office when you came to Repauno? What type of equipment did you have?

    Lindsey: While we were still at Repauno we just had ordinary office equipment. When we came into the consolidation we had a whole floor in the DuPont Building: first section, which was the stenographic room. My office was on the 5th floor, the stenographic office was on the 4th floor. I could sit at my desk and dictate my correspondence to the 4th floor by electronics.

    Scafidi: Do you happen to know some of the other office equipment – were typewriters generally used or adding machines, any kind of duplicating machinery?

    Lindsey: Typewriters yes, and adding machines too at that time.

    Scafidi: Were they Monroe machines?

    Lindsey: I don't know. When I went there I had never used anything but a Remington typewriter. They didn't have a Remington typewriter. They had a Smith Premier: a double keyboard and I had to use it.
  • Uses of Fabrikoid; Running his own agency; The end of World War I and the Great Depression; Internal operations at DuPont
    Keywords: E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; Fabrikoid; Great Depression; Lucite; Pyralin; Sales; World War (1914-1918)
    Transcript: Scafidi: What was Fabrikoid used for? And did it start going out of style?

    Lindsey: Oh, it was used for furniture and for upholstering automobiles and a dozen other purposes. We had a division of Fabrikoid that made window curtains. I guess they still make it. George Jennings...we sold him before we took on the curtains and then finally bought him out and brought him in as manager of that division.

    Ellsworth: Did the market for Fabrikoid hold up? Through the 1930's, 40's and 50's? Or did you start to get competition from new materials by then?

    Lindsey: The Fabrikoid that we sold I don't think they make any more. I don't think Stouffer makes it now. It is altogether a different plastic. I don't know what it is today but it is different than what we had.

    Ellsworth: Did you ever meet resistance when you were trying to sell people who still preferred leather rather than Fabrikoid?

    Lindsey: Oh, yes.

    Ellsworth: Was this a widespread feeling in 1917 and 1918 or had the attitude already begun to change?

    Lindsey: I think more people preferred the other then than now. The plastic field has developed wonderfully, not only usable but it’ s good.

    Ellsworth: How did you have your salesmen overcome the resistance around the first World War, around the end of the first World War? What did it? Was it price?

    Lindsey: I think it was price and the fact that it was more readily usable. They could get more out of a yard of Fabrikoid than they could out of a hide of leather. It was more economical. Less waste.

    Ellsworth: Could you dye it any better? Get it to hold colors better?

    Lindsey: Colors come in it. They didn't dye it.

    Ellsworth: Did you have more colors in Fabrikoid than you could in leather?

    Lindsey: I don't know whether we could have more or not, but we had a vast number of them.

    Ellsworth: What type of promotional material did you use for Fabrikoid in this early period? Did you advertise nationally or how did you try to reach the consumer?

    Lindsey: Yes, we advertised nationally and we had salesmen all over.

    Scafidi: Did you make up special promotional items? Fabrikoid satchels? The way people give out ball point pens today. Did you have anything that had the name and did you pass it out?

    Lindsey: I guess we had some things of that kind. I can't recall now just what they were. You see I'm a long way from that period.

    Scafidi: When other divisions of DuPont got started up, I think rayon came after Fabrikoid; did you have an opportunity to go into rayon?

    Lindsey: No, I didn't. I didn’ t seek it.

    Ellsworth: That was about the time you purchased your agency out in the west, wasn't it?

    Lindsey: 1927.

    Ellsworth: By then you were about ready to stay out in the west?

    Scafidi: How did you get your agency? Did you buy it outright? Was this like buying a franchise or did you just go 50-50 with Fabrikoid? What were the terms of being an agent?

    Lindsey: My purchase of that outfit?

    Scafidi: Yes.

    Lindsey: Well, he had established an automobile trimming business and he handled Fabrikoid and all the articles that go with carriage and auto trimming. He had come to a time in life when he wanted to retire: quit; and he approached me once or twice on it and I turned it aside because I had no desire to change, but in 1927 when I was there he made it attractive for me and I came home with an option. I and his chief clerk, we bought it together, partners, and by the way, it is still running under the name of Lindsey and Hall.

    Ellsworth: I take it then that it is independent from the Du Pont Company.

    Lindsey: Oh yes, absolutely. All we were were jobbers handling DuPont goods. We handled Fabrikoid, we handled Lucite, we handled rubber cloth, sheet Pyralin and a number of smaller products that DuPont makes.

    Scafidi: Did you handle any amount of pyralin combs and brushes that they were turning out at Parlin, New Jersey?

    Lindsey: No.

    Scafidi: You had probably just about gotten yourself really settled out west when the depression of 1929 hit; how did that affect your business? Did business fall off in '29?

    Lindsey: Well, I'll tell you. 1929, when that break came it cut everything down. But we didn't have to borrow a dollar. We went through that depression without borrowing a dollar. And while the character of the materials that they handle today is very different than it was then, they still are doing a good business, notwithstanding that DuPont has an office of their own in Los Angeles.

    Scafidi: When you were in California, what made you take on Lucite as a line?

    Lindsey: Because I thought it would be profitable. I sold a lot of Lucite: in sheets and powdered. I sold a lot of it. And we got tremendous prices for it.

    Scafidi: Do you remember, I just asked you about 1929. Do you have any idea as to how that compared with 1919, which was a bad year; the first couple of years after World War I were supposed to be very bad. You were with Fabrikoid at the time. Did it affect you?

    Lindsey: I don't remember too well just what we went through. We made out all right. We had a pretty good business.

    Scafidi: Was it your policy to keep things on a cash basis as much as possible? And not allow too much outstanding paper?

    Lindsey: Yes.

    Ellsworth: I am interested a little more in asking you about George Kerr, for example. What did he do with Repauno when you first came?

    Lindsey: He was originally private secretary to the old Lammot du Pont and see Lammot du Pont was the president of Repauno at first, and after he was killed Kerr had set up a Trade Record Division which was used by all the salesmen and recorded in our office. He was the instigator...

    Ellsworth: What was that trade record?

    Lindsey: Well, it was the report of an individual call of a salesman on a customer.

    Ellsworth: He filled that out every time he called on a customer?

    Lindsey: Every time he called on a customer he filled it out and sent the original to Wilmington.

    Ellsworth: Why did Kerr do this? Did he ever tell you why he did this?

    Lindsey: It was an important means of getting information about the trade.

    Ellsworth: What, at that time, was the relationship between Patterson and Kerr?

    Lindsey: Patterson was the general sales manager and Kerr was in his department as trade record manager.

    Ellsworth: But it was Kerr that thought up the trade records?

    Lindsey: Absolutely. He was the instigator.
  • Training salesman at Repauno; Leaving DuPont; Members of the du Pont family
    Keywords: Du Pont, Eugene E. (Eugene Eleuthè re), 1882-1966; Dynamite; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; Great Depression; Repauno Chemical Comapny; Sales; Stock Market; Training
    Transcript: Ellsworth: Who thought up the idea of training the salesmen – giving them talks on how dynamite worked so that the salesmen could go out and really tell...?

    Lindsey: Oh, I suppose before a salesmen went out he was given certain education along that line.

    Ellsworth: Do you remember which man, Patterson or Kerr began that practice? I think that was about 1892 or 1893, remember?

    Lindsey: What?

    Ellsworth: Which man, Patterson or Kerr, began the practice of training the salesmen? I think that started in Repauno about 1892.

    Lindsey: I don't know. Patterson had been the sales manager of the Hercules Powder Company in Chicago before he came with DuPont. I don't know whether he brought this knowledge with him.

    Ellsworth: When did he come to Repauno?

    Lindsey: Before my time, I don't know just when.

    Ellsworth: Did you ever know a man named E. S. Rice who was the Chicago agent for the Du Pont Company rather than for Repauno.

    Lindsey: No, I didn't know him, only knew of him.

    Ellsworth: E. S. R-i-c-e. He was the largest agent for the black powder.

    Lindsey: I didn't know him. I didn't know any of the black powder people except Charlie Belin of Moosic, Pennsylvania and his father Henry Belin. I had contacted him. And, of course, J. A. Haskell and Harry Haskell, they were Laflin & Rand.

    Ellsworth: Did you know any of the type of things that J. A. Haskell did? For Laflin & Rand and then: for the DuPont Company when he came in. Did you have any contact with him in the company?

    Lindsey: He had a private secretary, Joe Moosman. I was very fond of him. He was a young man like myself at the time and he traveled with J. A .and he was his secretary.

    Ellsworth: Is Moosman alive today, do you know? Or have you lost contact with him?

    Lindsey: No, he's dead. He died a number of years ago. Not many of my old associates are here yet. Not many.

    Ellsworth: Can you think of any besides Ed Proctor?

    Lindsey: E. W. Proctor is still living I think. He went with General Motors. Frank Turner went with General Motors. Frank is gone. But Proctor I understand lives here in Wilmington.

    Ellsworth: Do you know of any of the other men of your era that are still alive?

    Lindsey: Well, Jasper Crane came over from Arlington which was the Pyralin plant. Arnold Pitcher lives right in here back of this woods some place. He’ s pretty feeble I understand at the present time. Not many left. I won't be here much longer. I'm 91.

    Ellsworth: You do very well. Very well indeed. Your dates are remarkable. I've been sitting here thinking you know those dates very well. They are accurate when you gave a date. They are very, very close.

    Lindsey: I've had quite an experience. Never regretted going with DuPont.

    Scafidi: Did you ever regret leaving Du Pont?

    Lindsey: Sometimes yes, I have. Notwithstanding I had a very happy time in California. I retired from business in 1949 and from then on I enjoyed life pretty well.

    Ellsworth: You have to live on what you were able to save from your own business.

    Lindsey: Yes. I made out all right.

    Scafidi: Did you keep your DuPont stock, your bonus stock? That which you had gotten earlier? When you went out to the west did you sell it or keep it?

    Lindsey: I lost it in the conflagration: 1929. I lost the major portion of it but I bought in stock from time to time: bought and sold, bought and sold, great stuff.

    Scafidi: Of the people you knew, in 1929 or through the 20's, were there very many people playing the stock market, or were most people conservative?

    Lindsey: I thought I was conservative. I didn't play the stock market.

    Scafidi: Did you know people who did? People who would have been in a position much like yours?

    Lindsey: Yes, there were quite a number of them.

    Scafidi: It wasn't unusual to know someone like that? Well I'm just about asked out.

    Lindsey: Oh, ask me some more questions. I had a happy business life -I traveled all over this country. I've been in every state except one I think, and that's Arkansas. And I made friends all over. I had several friends made in a business way up in the copper country of Montana and the copper country in Michigan.

    Ellsworth: What were the major markets for dynamite when you came in in the late 90's?

    Lindsey: Road building, copper mining, some coal mining, railroad building, anything that needed blasting, hard, like Brandywine granite.

    Scafidi: Did you know of a man named Luther Reed who was connected...?

    Lindsey: Yes, I knew Luther Reed.

    Scafidi: We interviewed him at the beginning of the summer.

    Lindsey: Oh, is he living?

    Ellsworth: Very much so. He used to be general director of our Foundation out there until he retired about seven years ago but he is still on our Board of Directors.

    Lindsey: Well, give him my regards.

    Ellsworth: Well, we shall. He comes out: we see him about every six weeks.

    Lindsey: I want to not forget to tell you if you haven't interviewed him and I don't suppose you have, you should. Merritt Fisher. He was the secretary to the Executive Committee for years and he ought to be a fine source of information for you. I have already mentioned it to him. Told him I was going to mention it to you. He lives here.

    Ellsworth: Merritt Fisher

    Lindsey: His time was way back when Frank Connable was living.

    Ellsworth: Did you have any particular connection with any du Pont? You mentioned Dr. Alexis I. du Pont.

    Lindsey: No, my closest association was in a business way with Eugene and occasionally with Alexis and Victor. Victor Jr. he was. But Victor Jr. was not employed in the DuPont Company. He ran a stevedoring business in Philadelphia. But he had a good deal to do with shipping of our materials.

    Ellsworth: That's how you had contact with him, through Traffic?

    Lindsey: Eugene E. was a salesman for a short while in our division but he didn't like it: he quit.

    Ellsworth: All your salesmen then were on a salary?

    Lindsey: All on salary. If there was anything additional to that it was a bonus.

    Scafidi: Did you find that salaries produced a better salesman than commission?

    Lindsey: Well if they can afford to do it I think so. I think DuPont figured that too.

    Lindsey: Well gentlemen, I hope I have given you some information. I've given you some information you shouldn't use.

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