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W.C. Coleman & the Coleman Co.

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Connor Goodman

on 13 November 2014

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Transcript of W.C. Coleman & the Coleman Co.

W.C. Coleman & the Coleman Co.
Connor Goodman
Background
William Coffin Coleman
Born in NY in 1870
Moved to Labette County in 1871
Father died at age 11
Early Life
Became a successful seller in his adolescent years
Attended Emporia State
Taught and then became a superintendent at Blue Rapids, KS
Attained a teaching fellowship at Ottawa University
The beginnings of a great company
First attempted to sell lamps in Kingfisher, OK
Developed a lamp rental service
Successful enough he started the Hydro-Carbon Light Company
Called himself "one man private utility
The move to Wichita
Bought patent rights in 1903
Saw threat to industry with the tungsten filament electric bulb
Switched from selling light to selling lamps
Began manufacturing lamps in Wichita in 1905
Life as a Salesman
Decided to study Law at Kansas University
Started selling typewriters on a part-time basis for 3 years
On a sales trip to Alabama when he saw a light shining from a drugstore window
Switched from selling typewriters to lamps
Kansas & The West
Rapid Expansion
Between 1905 and 1920 the plant went from producing 275 lamps to 116,340
1925 the Wichita plant had over three acres of floor space
Continued to develop new products
Crowning jewel of the 20's was the Coleman Instant-Lite
Brought Coleman's products to an international level
World War II
During the war Coleman Company did its part to support war effort by creating the GI Pocket Stove
The army wanted compact stoves that "weighed less than five pounds, could be no larger than a quart bottle of milk, and could burn any kind of fuel."
First used in Operation Torch, the allied invasion of North Africa
After WWII business boomed with the increased interest in leisure time activities
Coleman's final years with the company
In 1943 was recognized by the NAM as a "Modern Pioneer of America" for his efforts in raising the standards of American living.
W.C. Coleman was active in the company until his death on Nov. 2 1957
He was succeeded by Sheldon Coleman, his son
Personal life and character
Married Fanny Sheldon in 1901 and had two sons Sheldon & Clarence
Very active in church affairs as were his kids
He was city commissioner from 1921-1925 and was mayor of Wichita from 1923-1924
Also active in the Red Cross organization
Treated his workers exceptionally well and was on a first name basis with many of his employees
Connected with his costumers on a genuine and personal level
Where is the company now?
After Coleman's death in 1957 the company continued to grow with annual sales breaking 115 million and the company producing their 15 millionth lamp
During the 1980's the company's common stock was moved to the New York Stock Exchange and annual sales exceeded $500 million
This would have mattered little to W.C. Coleman who spoke at one conference saying "we're not in it just to make money. The only real happiness comes from serving your community and your fellow man."
Sheldon ran the company until his death in 1988 and from there the company has changed hands several times but is now owned by Jarden Corporation
Significance
Empowered rural America and the new generation of travelers with lighting and cooking equipment that complimented their outdoor lifestyle
Supported U.S. troops during both World Wars, providing essential equipment that helped with their survival.
Contributed to the city of Wichita and the state of Kansas through the organizations he was involved in and what his company did for the area.
Exemplified how a business should be operated and managed, as well as how they should treat employees
Sources
http://www.coleman.com/ColemanHistory/
http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/william-coffin-coleman/12018
http://www.campinglife.com/feature-stories/w-c-coleman/
http://f5paper.com/article/wc-colemanprometheus-west
http://specialcollections.wichita.edu/collections/ms/2013-03/2013-3-a.html#series1
http://www.emporia.edu/business/community/kbhf/historical/william-coleman-1990b.html
Full transcript