February 12, 2007

Goodrich

And the man behind the brand is...
Benjamin Goodrich

Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich was born in a tiny hamlet of New York called
Ripley in 1841. He was orphaned at 8 years of age and grew up with relatives.
At 17 Goodrich began studying medicine with his cousin Dr. John Spencer.
At the age of 20 Goodrich graduated from Cleveland Medical College and signed
on with the Union Army as an assistant surgeon.

Dr. Goodrich emerged from the Civil War more interested in business than medicine. He entered into a real estate partnership in New York City and soon prospered. In 1869 the partners traded $10,000 worth of real estate for stock
in a small factory in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, the Hudson River Rubber Company.

As Goodrich dug into the books of the rubber-maker it became clear to him
how financially crippled the firm was. He traded more real estate for full ownership and became president. His first step back to fiscal health was to
move the business downriver to Melrose, New York and save money on rent.

Progress was slow and Goodrich decided to break clean with New York and establish the first rubber plant west of the Alleghenies, out where there was power, transportation, fresh labor and a fast developing country. On the train west Goodrich met a stranger who spoke so glowingly of a town in Ohio called Akron that he decided to pay a visit.

While in Akron Goodrich met with business leaders and both sides were mutually impressed. One of the Akron men visited the rubber factory in Melrose and offered Goodrich a loan of $13,600 to establish his business in the small canal town of 10,000. Akron was on its way to its destiny as the Rubber Capital of the World.

On the penultimate day in 1870 Goodrich, Tew & Company bought four
lots on the Ohio Canal. At the time there were few commercial uses for rubber. Dr. Goodrich had watched helplessly as a friend's house burned to the ground when a leather hose froze and burst so his first product was a cotton-covered rubber fire hose.

The rubber company struggled financially in the beginning but the business community of Akron helped it through some rough times until sales increased.
In 1880 the business officially became the B.F. Goodrich Company as sales climbed to over $500,000 a year.

Dr. Goodrich died prematurely at age 47 in 1888 but his company had by this time established the reputation that anyone needing to solve a manufacturing problem involving rubber would go to B.F. Goodrich. In the decades to come this innovative thinking would result in a new rubber bicycle tire, automobile cord tires and even the first modern golf ball.

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