Interview with J. Edgar Rhoads, 1969 February 11 [audio](part 3)

Hagley ID:
  • Hiring a "cost expert" to manage expenses and J.E. Rhoads and Sons, Inc.
    Partial Transcript: "We felt the need for more accurate costs of our varied products."
    Synopsis: Rhoads talks about hiring an accounting firm to help his company more accurately cost his materials. He describes how managers determine the quantity and timing of raw materials orders.
    Keywords: Accounting; Costs; J.E. Rhoads and Sons, Inc.; Sales
  • Definition of "cone" belting; Working with family; Pre World War I sales force at J.E. Rhoads and Sons, Inc; Joining the Leather Belting Exchange
    Partial Transcript: "Cone belt is a form of flat belt that is used in textile mills principally for regulation of speed of certain machines..." "Uncle George... was a very vigorous.. very conservative..."
    Synopsis: Rhoads describes the appearance and function of a cone belt. He says they are mostly used to regulate machine speed in textile mills. Rhoads talks about working with his uncle and other members of his family. Rhoad talks about the size and nature of their sales force prior to World War I. he describes how they hired and trained their salesmen. He talks about the Leather Belting Exchange. He explains that the exchange shared information about potential customs, as well as the strengths of different belt types were shared among members.
    Keywords: Cone belting; J.E. Rhoads and Sons, Inc.; Leather; Leather belting; Leather Belting Exchange; National Industrial Leather Association; Quality control; Rhoads, George A. (George Ashbridge), 1860-1937; Rhoads, J. Edgar (Joseph Edgar), 1883-198; Sales; Trade associations; Training; Wages; World War (1914-1918)
  • Changes to the leather industry during World War I; Changing price of raw materials; World War I sales
    Partial Transcript: "Well, I expect it was partially true... we received no heavy hides... during the period of the war and therefore the thick straps, thick round belt could not be made...
    Synopsis: Rhoads said that during World War I they no longer got supplies of heavy hides from Europe, which meant they could not produce heavy belts as they once had. He says that the exporters for those heavy hides were Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. He says that business changed as the demand for belts decreased and other countries began to produced their own hides.
    Keywords: Austria; Germany; Hides and skins; Liberty Bonds; Raw materials; Switzerland; World War (1914-1918)
  • Compensating salesmen; Offers to buy out J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc
    Partial Transcript: "The commission was based not on the actual dollar sales but on the margin of gross product which the orders that man sold showed."
    Synopsis: Roads describes how J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc. compensated their salesmen. He describes how they calculated bonuses for high performing salesmen. Rhoads talks about attempts by other companies to purchase his own.
    Keywords: J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc.; Sales; Wages
  • Testing leather and improving manufacturing methods at J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc.; Diversification
    Partial Transcript: Dr. Robert R. Tatnall was a physicist... he had gone to a German university for further advanced work in physics... took his Phd. at Hopkins..." "there was reguLar thought given to it, but we never did it..."
    Synopsis: Rhoads talk about Dr. Robert R. Tatnall and his work in the laboratory at Rhoads' leather business. He says that Tatnall's main interest was botany. He talks a bout Tatnall's work testing the quality of leather and improving methods of tanning. Rhoads talks about diversification at J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc. and explains that while they often considered diversifying, they never did.
    Keywords: Botany; Diversification; J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc.; Leather; Leather--Research; Quality Control; Tanning; Tatnall family; Tatnall, Dr. Robert R.
  • Taking out loans to keep the business open in the 1920s; Employee benefits; Health hazards of the leather industry; Moves toward unionization in the 1930s
    Partial Transcript: "First in 1920 we had to borrow terrifically..." "When I started to work we worked 60 hours a week and the average pay was nine dollars a week..." "
    Synopsis: Rhoads talks about taking out loans in the 1920s in order to keep their doors open. he talks about employee benefits. He says that he believes his company was ahead of many others in establishing benefits. He says that he wanted the benefits to instill a sense of loyalty in his employees. He talks about establishing committees to help develop these benefits. He describes some of the health hazards of working in the leather industry. Rhoads talk about unionization efforts in the 1930s. He says that management at Rhoads has had a generally good relationship with the union.
    Keywords: American Federation of Labor; Anthrax; Banking; Benefits; Credit; Health hazards; Health insurance; Hides and skins; Holidays; Labor relations; Labor unions; Leather; Life insurance; Loans; Negotiations; Vacations; Wages
  • Fighting bacterial infections in leather; Buying a French tanning process; Leather belts in motors
    Partial Transcript: "I think the trouble began in about 1922 and it was the result of an infection which got into our vats and took us a long time to identify..."
    Synopsis: Rhoads talks about a bacterial infection which destroyed a lot of the leather at J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc. He says the infection incurred massive financial losses. He says that these events, combined with their finished leather always being too stretchy led to them purchasing a method of tanning from a Frenchman that he refers to as H. Bachelet. Rhoads talks about a type of motor which used leather belts from Rhoads, he explains how these motors worked.
    Keywords: Bachelet, H; Bacteria; Infections; Leather Belts; Rockwood motor bases; Tanning
  • Competition from non-leather belts; Making non-leather belts; Belts with plastic in them; Industries using Rhoads belts
    Partial Transcript: "This nylon belt... that did not compete with leather..."
    Synopsis: Rhoads talk about competition from non-leather belts. He says that Rhoads eventually started to make woven belts alongside their leather belts. He says that manufacturers used both to help power their machines. He describes a new type of belt which is partly made from plastic with leather and/or nylon covers. He explains that the leather takes the wear and tear, while the nylon provides strength. He says that the belts are very good, but they probably will not last as long as plain leather belts, despite performing better in some situations. Rhoads lists the industries that uses the type of belts manufactured by Rhoads.
    Keywords: Belts and belting; Cotton; Nylon; Plastics; Sharpless Corporation; Tanning; Weaving

Digitized material in this online archive may document imagery or language that reflects racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive and harmful beliefs and actions in history. Hagley Library is engaged in ongoing efforts to address and responsibly present evidence of oppression and injustice in our collections. If you are concerned about the archival material presented here, or want to learn more about our ongoing work, please contact us at