A Bit of Plumbing Trivia | The Buzz -The buzz in Bullhead City – Lake Havasu City – Kingman – Arizona – California
They were bestowed a rather dubious form of immortality. Her surname is known around the world, but the men behind the name and their many accomplishments are largely forgotten. Who today remembers that Walter Chrysler was credited with turning Buick into a profitable company? Who today remembers that Henry Ford played an important role in the founding of Cadillac? And who else remembers David Buick making his first fortune in the plumbing business?
Buick, an immigrant from Scotland, could only attend primary school. At the age of eleven he went to work to support his mother and family financially. He delivered newspapers. He was a farm hand. And then came his breakthrough, an opportunity to apprentice as a machinist at the James Flower & Brothers Machine Shop, the same shop where Henry Ford had apprenticed in 1880.
At just 15, Buick used his young skills to land a job with the Alexander Manufacturing Company. This Detroit-based company was the nation’s largest manufacturer of enamelled iron toilet bowls and wooden toilet tanks. Buick was ambitious, hardworking and hardworking. In a relatively short time he was promoted to foreman of the workshop.
The company failed and went bankrupt in 1882. But Buick saw this as an opportunity, partnering with William S. Sherwood and then taking over the assets of the Alexander Manufacturing Company to form the Buick & Sherwood Plumbing and Supply Company. Sherwood had the business acumen. Buick was the innovator and by 1890 had received thirteen patents, all to do with plumbing work. One of these was a game changer, a method of attaching porcelain to metals such as cast iron. The patent proved to be a valuable asset for the company.
And that was essentially the last financially successful venture for Buick. His genius was easily distracted and the car piqued his interest. So he turned his attention to experimenting and developing a gasoline engine. In December 1899, to finance the venture, Buick and Sherwood sold the plumbing company to the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company for $100,000. His entire share of the sale was reinvested in the creation of a new company, Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company.
This company would evolve into the Buick Manufacturing Company. And this company would serve as the basis for William Durant’s foray into the auto industry. And Durant turned Buick into a leading automaker with growth by establishing a factory racing team led by three brothers from France – Louis, Arthur and Gaston Chevrolet. Durant would then use Buick as the cornerstone for a revolutionary new business concept that manifested as General Motors. Walter Chrysler began his automotive career by streamlining the manufacturing process of Buick automobiles.
David Buick soon became irrelevant to the company, leading to his dubious immortality. He founded a number of other companies. With every endeavor he made a fortune for others, but not for himself. He would die penniless.
But his contributions to plumbing changed the world. And these contributions are the basis for modern plumbing companies such as Retro Plumbing Inc. from Kingman, Arizona. Renovating a home or rental, building a new home, servicing your mobile home, or just a simple faucet repair, Retro Plumbing Inc is here to meet all your plumbing needs.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America