In an organization's home community, industry must sell itself when it moves into town, when it expands within the town, when it brings in new people, sends old ones away, or decides to vacate a town.
Industry is always on the prowl, one way or another, and always selling itself, as the following projects will illustrate.
Entering a Community
General Electric, in preparation to build plant facilities and move its major appliance division to Louisville, took some steps to avoid resistance and resentment. A "Good Neighbor" advertisement was placed in the local press, followed by 10 others telling of GE and those policies that mirrored its attitudes toward employees and neighbors. A letter went from the General Manager of the Division to 2,500 opinion leaders and box holders in the suburb where the new plant was to be located.
GE people were interviewed on local TV and radio shows. A 24 sheet poster was placed at the new site, and an exhibit depicting what GE would mean to Louisville went in the Chamber of Commerce window.
A speaker's bureau stood ready to fill community requests. The history of the company was mailed to public and school.
Meantime, back at Schenectady HO, transferees got a booklet on Louisville and a map of the city. Arrangements were made for transportation, housing, and a tour of the city for the family. Household goods were moved at company expense.
Three modern chemical companies came together in Calvert City, Kentucky, a crossroads town. They were Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Co., with chlorine and hydrofluoric acid plants; Air Reduction Company, with a calcium carbide and acetylene plant; and B. F. Goodrich with a vinyl chloride operation. They could have elbowed and heckled each other, under the circumstances, to everyone's discomfort and detriment.
But it didn't turn out that way. They pitched in and worked together for the mutual good of the city and themselves, improving everything from Main Street to the residential areas and the school system.
Diamond Alkali Company bought a chlorine caustic soda plant at Muscle Shoals, Ala., and the government then had to introduce itself quickly to the community. The vehicle decided on was a friendly neighborhood get together.
An audience ceremony plan was formulated involving:
United Fruit, to assuage the resentment of foreigners in Guatemalan hearts, fed the national ego by publicizing the glories of Guatemala's ancient heroes, rather than modern U.S. industry's might. Further, the company revived the Mayan city, Zaculan, and restored it as a national monument.
Chicago Federal Savings and Loan Association wanted to get acquainted fast when it moved to a busy State Street address. As handshakes, it made available its Lincoln Room for civic groups, sponsored a kid's league ball team, loaned a window, desk, and telephone for the 4 H and various fund drives, and sponsored a Christmas campaign for gifts to orphans. The new neighbors "bought" Federal Savings without argument.
Rust Craft of Boston thought of an exceptionally good calling card when moving to a new plant in Dedham, Mass. They printed a two color pictorial map of Dedham, with its landmarks. Copies were given to employees and townsfolk at no cost.
Motorola, Inc., came up against a rezoning requirement with a new piece of suburban property acquired for ultimate development. A few residences fringed the property. Rather than wait for a false issue to be spawned by lack of information, the executive vice president took a Sunday afternoon to call at each home, introduce himself, and reassure homeowners that the property was intended for engineering facilities and offices, not for a factory.
Ford Motor Company, following its move into Mahwak, N.Y., invited the mayor to drive off the first car. It was one equipped with hand controls. Two days later the car was given to New York University Medical Center, Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Making Improvements, Expanding:
New York Trap Rock needed an area in Haverstraw rezoned for further quarry activities. The local authorities of the township bucked it. The company decided to take its case to the people by telling dramatically the need for stone to build roads, bridges, and public structures.
To do the job, a traveling exhibit was created and housed aboard a barge named the Riverama. The boat toured the river towns, attracted considerable attention, and coincidentally got the company's employees solidly behind the effort.
Pacific Intermountain Express Company bought 10 acres of property in Orinda, California, for construction of a one story ranch style general office building. The area, a residential one, required rezoning before the company could go ahead.
Models and drawings of the building were placed in local store windows. After two months, a house to house poll was taken by 100 supervisory employees. The poll approved the rezoning three to one.
Green Giant, in small Leasers, Minnesota, had many out of town visitors, and wanted them to think well of the city and the company's hospitality. Trouble was, there was no attractive restaurant. Green Giant teamed up with Main Street men, and took over an old golf club, splendid kitchen and dining room. The nine hole course was spruced up. Later on, a Gun Club was added. LeSueur looked better now to visitors and to residents alike.
A western utility company had a big building program going in a downtown area. It was necessary to close the street partially, and when traffic tie ups were created there was public pressure to conduct the work at night.
This wasn't adequate because the work required air hammers on the street. Neighbors complained that they couldn't sleep.
The company resolved this by offering to use its hammers from 7 to 10 P.M., and the city volunteered to divert all traffic from the area so that work could go uninterrupted those hours.
Carson Pirie Scott & Co. in Chicago, in celebration of a Centennial, staged a contest for the best plans to redevelop and improve the city's downtown area. Winning plans were given to the Chicago Plan Commission for study.
Telling Industry's Story at Home:
Utah State Oil Industry's information committee, during Oil Progress Week, took one high school senior from each of 54 school districts to Salt Lake City. The young people toured a refinery, took part in O.P.W. events and then reported back to their classmates.
General Motors, in a booklet, provided for community readers a list of 67 examples of what is done in GM plant groups to merit local respect and confidence. Among the acts of civic spirit were: speeches before local clubs, plans for American Legion Parade, ushering at band concert, and landscaped grounds.
Northern Indiana Public Service Company, headquartered in Hammond, moved its board of directors' meeting on one occasion to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to let people have a look in a straight natural gas territory.
Republic Steel, Cleveland, developed a speaker's bureau in its plant communities. There were some 67 speakers who gave more than 2,000 talks to more than 150,000 people on broad economic subjects, and on Republic's policies and programs.
The Employees Committee for Economic Development was formed as a joint undertaking by three Michigan towns with a combined population of about 15,000. Working together they came up with a big city program of exhibits. Each major type of organization from churches to Junior Chamber of Commerce had an
Honor Week in which it had an economic education exhibit in the window of the National Utilities Company.
Leaving a Community:
Soon Vacuum Oil, when faced with the need to close a refiner in Olean after 64 years, took several steps to protect its relationships.
First, it announced it would continue contracts with crude oil producers in the area. The next announcement revealed that a new refinery was opening at Ferndale, Wash. Further announcements disclosed that the company would pay transportation and moving costs for people going to Ferndale. Subsequently a delegation of employees and wives were sent to Ferndale to look things over and report back to the others.
As for those who chose not to go, employees within six years of retirement were pensioned. Others were given severance consideration, and help in finding jobs.
As it worked out, four fifths of the employees offered Ferndale jobs accepted them. No one was left without a job somewhere.
Webster Chicago Corp. (Webcor), in opening a plant away from home, recognized the uneasiness caused to its Chicago people, and to the people in the community being entered.
To reassure both groups, Webcor's president sent an explanatory letter to employees at home. The press was notified. Officials visited the new town. There was a dedication day in the new town with a torchlight parade tied to the town's centennial. Subsequently, gel acquainted events were an exhibit and an open house.
Atlas Powder Company, leaving space rented downtown in Wilmington for its own building in the suburbs, created a friendly lobby display to say so long to other tenants. Of course, people other than tenants saw the display or heard about it.
Dupont in Yerkes, N.Y., demonstrated the principle of "first things first" in breaking the news of a plant shutdown. Management told 13 staff men first, then wrote and released announcements in this order: (a) Union committee, (b) supervisors, (c) employees, (d) local newsmen, (e) other local industry, vendors, and civic organizations.