PAUL GALVIN Motorola
In every generation of American youth, there are probably tens of thousands of individuals who cherish the dream of owning their own small businesses. Paul Galvin was such a man. He was successful beyond his wildest dreams, for the small business he founded grew and grew until it became the giant communications equipment manufacturer known as Motorola. The way in which Galvin achieved his dream stands as an inspiration for the generations that follow.
L The Beginning
Paul Galvin was born in the small town of Harvard, Illinois, on June 27, 1895. His biographer tells us that Galvin's upbringing in this small town environment gave him a personality, "friendly, yet with a certain reserve, salty, yet at times very gentle, (with a) stress on personal loyalties, (a) shrewd assessment of men, and (a) strong moral code. ''1 Upon finishing high school, Galvin took a summer job as a clerk at the Harvard railroad roundhouse and the following fall, he enrolled at the University of Illinois, 150 miles away by train or buggy. There he relied on his savings and part-time jobs to meet his expenses and complete two years of study. But, by the end of his sophomore year, he concluded that he was not getting enough out of the school effort to continue. He returned to Harvard to work as a clerk in the railroad station and a year later went to Chicago where he found a clerk's job with Commonwealth Edison. Shortly thereafter Paul Galvin enrolled in an officer's training program in anticipation of America's entry into World War I. He eventually became an artillery officer and saw duty on the front lines in France. His wartime experience strengthened Galvin's faith in the virtues of a well-disciplined organization able to withstand crisis through mutual
loyalty and the leader's concern for the men. 2 The wartime experience also strengthened Galvin's determination to make a place for himself in the business world.
II. Early Failures
Returning to civilian life in 1919, Paul Galvin began his search for a business in which he could achieve success. He first obtained a job with the D & G Storage Battery Company. Then in 1921, he joined another Harvard man, Edward Stewart, to form a storage battery manufacturing company in Marshfield, Wisconsin. The location was selected because of cooperation from the local chamber of commerce. The location proved disadvantageous due to shipping costs, and in 1923 the company went out of business. "A few days later, with only a dollar and a half in his pocket, Galvin packed his wife, Lillian, and their ten-monthold son, Bob, into a broken down old car and started back to Illinois, ''3 Back in Chicago, Galvin found a job with the Brach Candy Company as personal secretary to Emil Brach. Three years later, in 1926, Galvin again joined Edward Stewart to establish a battery manufacturing plant for a second time. This time Galvin's company had the advantage of a Chicago location and economic prosperity in the nation. But then, a defect was discovered in the product, customers began to be lost to rivals, and before the problem could be solved, the company's creditors struck, taking possession of the company property. Once again, Galvin's dream of business success had ended in failure.
IlL Mar~nal Success
All was not lost, however, for in fighting to stave off the second failure, Galvin, Stewart, and an engineer they hired had developed a device called a dry battery eliminator which enabled a home radio to draw electricity from an electric outlet. The head of the radio department
at Sears, Roebuck encouraged Galvin to re-establish himself in the business of making the eliminator which Sears would then buy. The eliminator portion of the bankrupt business was about to be sold at auction by the creditors, and Galvin decided to bid for it with $1000 he had managed to raise. His bid of $750 was highest, and he once again became owner of the tools, plans,...