Was It All Cricket?
Chapter 34 — Commerce and Industry
Commerce and Industry
My re-entry into the cricket life of New Zealand in 1907 was easily accomplished. To change from engineering to commerce was another matter and meant taking a step that involved me in activities very different from those for which I had been trained. Some of my friends doubted the wisdom of my decision; they could envisage an engineer becoming engaged in the business side of engineering, but to transfer to the materials and requirements of the building industry seemed to them an unusual procedure. The fact that my father had been a building contractor, as I have already stated, and that sons usually acquire some knowledge of the business of their father may, in some way, account for the change proving less difficult than I had anticipated.
It was now two years since my eldest brother, T. W. Reese, had begun business on his own account; timber, cement, lime, laths, etc., were his principal lines. I had returned from England especially to join him in business. He had previously taken into partnership a young fellow who had shared the same office with him; it was not an ideal alliance and shortly after my return we bought him out and the firm of Reese Brothers was established.
My cricket had naturally made me well known throughout the country. My brother was also well known and held in high esteem, not only in the cricket and football worlds, but also by the people with whom he was trading. We were soon to learn the value of the good name handed down to us by our father. Many of the builders of Christchurch at that time had served their apprenticeship with him. He had begun business in Christchurch in 1864 when only twenty-three years of age. Arriving in 1861, he had in a few short years saved enough money to pay the passages of his father and mother, his brother and four sisters, who all wished to come to New Zealand. This was an achievement. He was capable and energetic, and reward soon came his way. During the 'seventies and 'eighties he had become the biggest contractor in Christchurch. Among the most page 455 notable buildings erected by him were the Post Office, United Service Hotel, Normal School, School of Art, the Mental Hospital, and Lincoln College.
The 'eighties opened in the same atmosphere of prosperity as the previous decade, but by 1885 the clouds of depression began to bank up. At this time New Zealand's principal exports were wool, tallow and wheat; the country had no reserves to meet the effect of depressed world markets; the banks had not the cash to help primary and secondary industries in the manner they did in the trade depression which came again some forty years later. With little or no credit available, people suffered even greater hardships than in the slump years following 1929. The clouds were just beginning to lift when my father died. His modest fortune had disappeared, but he had left behind him a name that riches could not buy. This family misfortune was to prove of assistance to my brother and me in the early stages of our business; the setbacks my father had suffered, and the manner he had borne them were remembered by his old workmen, some of whom were now among the principal contractors in the city. But they remembered him for something else.
In the earliest years of the building trade the contractors acted as individual units, with no central point where they could discuss problems vital to their industry as well as to the welfare of their own businesses. During this period the architects were also individualists; they each had their own form of specification and their own conditions of contract. Some of the architects were harsh and unreasonable—some were unfair; the builders had no redress. Several of the last contracts my father carried out were under conditions which contributed to his final losses. The builders at last realized that they must have an association through which they could negotiate. On getting together, their first task was to draw up a set of conditions of contract that would be fair to all concerned. The architect was no longer to be a dictator. There was to be an arbitration clause covering any dispute. The builders were now united, and strong enough to say they would not tender for the work unless fair conditions were attached to the plans. In the end they won. The Articles of Association drawn up and finally signed, converted the builders into a compact and friendly body. Daniel Reese, my father, one of the leaders in all these negotiations, page 456 was elected their first President, but he lived only long enough to complete one year in office. Is it any wonder that the builders and contractors of our generation turned to the sons of their first President with good wishes and patronage?
We were soon in the throes of an active business life; out all day on bicycles as our own salesmen and then back at the office at night. Some of the tales of bicycle rides far into the country are hardly credible to-day. I was often away from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. The motor-cycle next played its part, then the motor-car came into general use, largely because Henry Ford produced his “Tin Lizzie” at a price that was within the reach of people of moderate means.
Salesmanship came to me quite naturally, but I found that business and finance were another matter. A young accountant friend of mine who was glad to earn extra money, agreed to come to my office two nights a week and put me through the elementary stages of debits and credits, Cash Book and Ledger. He told me of books to get, and in many ways assisted me in gaining knowledge wherever possible. Another man advised me of a book that taught the niceties of letter writing; I had not realized till then the important part that correspondence plays in business, and this study of the art of properly expressing oneself was to prove invaluable.
A man of commerce will know that extended business operations mean extended finance, and we often found ourselves stretched to the limit of our resources—sometimes beyond. At times we had to resort to the Promissory Note—even a P.N. renewed. Often a builder, who as a rule could not arrange an overdraft at the bank, would pay his account with a P.N. There was a stage, early in our business, when we were both receiving and giving P.N's. This often meant anxious moments at three o'clock on certain days when we had to meet a Bill or an overseas Draft. My brother did not like having to fight out these narrow escapes with the bank manager, and it was not long before I frequently found myself on the mat. We banked with the National Bank of New Zealand, the Christchurch manager of which was Mr. Alexander Ferguson, one of the most able bankers in the Dominion. We often referred to him as “old Fergy,” as one would speak of a beloved school-master. Possessing all the characteristic qualities of the Scot, he was kind and always considerate, but knew when to be stern. On page 457 one of the occasions when we failed to keep within our limits I got a telephone call the following morning. Would I come and see him? I was to be given a warning and some sound advice on the necessity of letting my banker know beforehand if any help were needed. I realized all the implications when he said, “How would you feel if I turned down the Draft?” I never forgot his kindly words, nor his timely advice.
On another occasion I had to interview Mr. Ferguson with regard to a cargo of timber purchased from overseas. I had expected the shippers to draw on us, but instead they requested us to establish a Letter of Credit, a term I had not previously heard. My seeing “Fergy” involved not only the Letter of Credit, but also the large amount of money that would have to be put up so much ahead of the time we could collect from the consignees at our end. After explaining the transaction, and to whom we had sold the timber, to my surprise the amount required was not questioned, even though it ran into thousands of pounds. In a few minutes he explained the whole procedure of putting up money overseas to cover the f.o.b. or c.i.f. value of goods. Taking the side of the shipper to illustrate his point, he explained the difference it made to have access to the money the moment the goods were placed aboard ship, instead of putting through a Draft to be met at this end long after the ship had sailed. He said, “Supposing you failed to meet the Draft; what then would the shipper do with his timber?” This was another of the lessons learned from experience that I was not to forget. When the transaction showed a substantial profit Mr. Ferguson was as pleased as if he himself had made the deal. Such actions will show that this is not the cold, hard world that some people would make it out to be. Mr. C. J. Ronaldson, who succeeded Mr. Ferguson, was an equally kind and considerate banker, so it will be seen how fortunate we were in these early days of our business when we often needed assistance.
At about this time two acts of kindness and splendid generosity favoured our fortunes and stirred the hearts of the two Reeses. In the early 'seventies, two young men from Lincolnshire had arrived in Christchurch. They were brothers and both were pattern-makers. The engineering trade was not busy at that time and they were unable to get work at their own trade. It was two anxious young men who applied to my father page 458 for employment. There is a great difference between the work of a pattern-maker and a joiner, even though they use the same tools in their woodwork, but my father, always noted for his kindness, put them both into his joinery factory. Many years later my mother told me that father had said how energetically they worked and how quickly they picked up the finer points of workshop carpentry. In a few years their industry and thrift enabled them to save sufficient to begin business on their own account. It was back to engineering they went and founded the firm of Scott Brothers, soon to become one of the best known engineering firms in New Zealand. When we started in business the Scotts were affluent and past middle age. They must have noted our entry into commercial life, for one day the elder brother, Mr. John L. Scott, a man of delightful character, came to us and said, “I have never had an opportunity of showing my appreciation and gratitude for what your father did for my brother and me. I now want to help you; I am going to guarantee your account at the bank.” Shortly afterwards, he came back again and said, “I have some money I wish to invest for one of my daughters, and I'm going to place it on deposit with your firm.” It would be hard to find a finer example of gratitude for an old kindness.
The second act of generosity was almost identical with the above. One day, in the city, I met Mr. James Cow who had also worked for my father many years before. It was the first time he had seen me since my return from England and he showed great interest in my travels and in our business. He said abruptly, “How are you off for money?” The question rather embarrassed me. Before I had time to answer, he said, “I know! I started in the same way!” Mr. Cow lived in Ashburton, a country town fifty miles from Christchurch. On the following Wednesday—he always came to town on farmers' day—he walked into our office and in my room put his hand in his hip pocket, pulling out a roll of notes. There was humour in this action, for he was a farmer and grudged paying exchange on cheques! He then said, “You may have the loan of this for as long as you like; and fix your own rate of interest.” Then, like Mr. Scott, he said, “This is in return for what your father did for me.” He told of how it was made possible for him to become his own master. Working in the coopers' shop, making tallow casks for the freezing works, his wages were ten shillings page 459 per day. One day my father said to him, “How would you like to be paid on a piece-work basis?” Knowing his own ability, the big Scot gleefully accepted the proposal. While some of his work-mates continued to make ten shillings per day, and others a little more, Mr. Cow jumped to a pound a day, and it was the savings from these high wages that enabled him to buy a farm and later to become a successful dealer in livestock. One of the memories of my early days in business is the big-hearted James Cow, standing well over six feet in height, drawing the roll of notes from his pocket.
These incidents will illustrate the value of a good name and show how helpful its influence may become, even though its reputation had been established in a prior generation.
I had now been back in Christchurch long enough to realize that New Zealand was a country in which young men could both work and play. As I looked around I saw many striking examples; Mr. F. Wilding had become a K.C. and one of our most noted barristers; Charles Rattray, Charles R. Clark, Bob Neill, C. A. Richardson, A. H. Fisher, and H. B. Lusk had all risen to positions of importance in the country's commercial and professional life. Last, but not least, came Arthur Sims. He was still under thirty years of age, yet, with Arthur Cooper—another brilliant young man—had established the firm of Sims, Cooper & Company and burst into the commercial life of New Zealand in a way that startled the older generation of those in the same line of business. I do not think there has ever been in this country such a meteoric rise to success and influence as was witnessed when the “two Arthurs” organized the buying of fat lambs, began making deals with freezing companies and chartering ships to place full cargoes of frozen meat on the London market. It was not surprising to find Sims making such headway, for he was an extraordinary schoolboy, combining scholarship with sport to a degree rarely seen. Continuing his studies after entering upon a commercial career, making full use of leisure hours, and burning the midnight oil, he graduated M.A. from Canterbury University College, with first-class honours in science, when still in his early twenties.
The earliest years of our operations saw us make rapid progress. The days seemed to fly past. Business was just buying and selling, with few governmental restrictions, and no forms to fill in, as in these days, when a firm almost needs an extra page 460 clerk to make out returns! The basic rate of income tax was one shilling and two pence in the pound. Everything was cheap, and costs such that moderate incomes provided a comfortable living.
The timber merchants and builders were excellent men with whom to deal. The latter were jolly fellows, full of fun, with a highly developed sense of humour. They followed my cricket, chaffed me if I made a “blob,” but sometimes said nothing if I made a score; it was Andersons' foundry over again—no spoiling the young man with undue praise.
Our clients enjoyed two small, framed pictures we had in our office. One was a cartoon of an American class-room, with the boys seated in their forms, and the school-master standing on a raised platform. One of the boys in the front row was standing with his hand up. On the bottom of the picture were these words:
Teacher: “What was responsible for the fall of Babylon?”
Pupil (Builder's son): “Crook cement!”
The other was a letter, short and to the point. My youngest brother, a lad of about eighteen, was waiting to begin work in an architect's office. Thinking he could sell cement, he asked if he might go out on the road in the country for a few weeks. Away he went to the accompaniment of much banter. In two days' time we received his first orders, but by the same mail came a letter from a farmer. He wrote as follows:—
I beg to cancel the order I gave your traveller for three bags of cement as I was drunk at the time I gave the order. I do not want the cement as I have no money to pay for it, so therefore do not send it.
This was too good to miss. We cut the signature out, framed the letter and this still hangs on our wall. This incident provoked much fun in our family circle. I was now able to counter the facetious remarks of my young brother's whenever he got on to the subject of “the best educated member of the Reese family”; “I was drunk at the time I gave the order” would always silence him.
Up till the time of our starting business, and for some time afterwards, English cement held a dominating position on the New Zealand market. The associated cement companies of page 461 London had by now become a powerful organization. They selected the brand of cement that had won the best reputation in the different colonies and concentrated on deliveries of this particular brand to the country where it was best known. Knight, Bevan & Sturge held pride of place in New Zealand. This product, always known as “K.B.” cement, was a tough proposition for colonial manufacturers to compete with. The duty on cement was only one pound per ton, an amount that was not altered for many years. When sailing-ships played a prominent part in the trade between the Dominion and the Old Country this amount of duty was not sufficient fully to protect the cement works in New Zealand, for sometimes cement came out as ballast, and this meant a fictitious price. Gradually the sailing-ships found the modern steamer too strong a competitor and accepted defeat. The steamers now treated cement as an ordinary commodity and a fixed rate of freight changed its competitive position. Already three cement works had been established in New Zealand; Wilson's, and the New Zealand Portland Company, both in Auckland, and Milburn in Dunedin. A fourth was started at Picton and my brother had been appointed its Canterbury agent. This was an ill-conceived venture, for the limestone had to be freighted by ship from Tarakohe, near Collingwood—a distance of more than a hundred miles. As limestone forms about two-thirds of the ingredients in the manufacture of cement, it would have been a better proposition to take the marl to the limestone. The company was short-lived, but fortunately another company, the Burnside, had started in Dunedin and we were appointed its agent for Canterbury. This was a better cement than the Anchor brand from Picton, and soon we were doing well in establishing it on the market. Then the Burnside Company found the Milburn Company too strong a competitor. However, Fate seemed determined that Reese Brothers should be representatives of a cement company, for almost simultaneously with the Milburn Company's absorption of the Burnside works, a new company began operations at Tarakohe, at the very spot where the limestone had been quarried for freighting to the old Picton works. Marl had been found in the same hill as the limestone, so the new company was in a unique position, with manufacturing advantages not enjoyed by any of the other companies. These works, which opened in 1910, were page 462 situated on the eastern side of Golden Bay, from which the company took its name. Until gold was discovered in the district and the name of the bay altered, it had, from the date of Tasman's first voyage, always been known as Murderers' or Massacre Bay. Tasman had anchored in the bay and the Maori warriors, feigning friendship, came out in their canoes to meet the ship's boats coming to the shore, then savagely attacked and killed several of the crew. Who knows but that this incident may have prevented New Zealand becoming a Dutch colony?
Our already strong connection with the builders gave Golden Bay a good start. Soon getting our full share of colonial cement sold on our market, we were taking an appreciable proportion of the works' output. But the fight was also against English cement. New Zealand still places a premium on anything British, so it will be appreciated that we had an uphill fight. The architects continued to specify “K.B.,” but later were persuaded to specify “approved brand of cement.” If one of our clients got such a contract, it was then up to us to get the use of Golden Bay allowed. Prejudice is a hard thing to break down and it took a persistent effort. We were checked now and again by a variation in the quality of our cement. England had long since brought science to bear upon her cement industry; the chemist was an important man. In New Zealand the companies were slow to appreciate this, but competition forced their hands. To-day, continuous testing ensures a standard quality of New Zealand portland cement that is equal to the best in the world.
An example of the earliest troubles may prove of interest. The builder was a friend of my brother's and had persuaded the architect to agree to his using Picton Anchor brand cement; it was cheaper than English cement, so it was not all “friendship.” Two days after the foundations of the building had been put in, the builder rushed in and said to my brother, “Come and have a look at these foundations!” Off they went to the job, and sure enough the cement had made no attempt to set. The builder was in a great state, for the architect was sure to visit the site the following day. Imagine the anxiety and cost facing the builder—or agent, or cement company—if those foundations had to be re-made! On the following morning the concrete had set as hard as a rock. My brother told me that page 463 this was the biggest fright he ever had in the cement business. Golden Bay, Milburn, and Auckland cements were never of such uneven quality as this, but nevertheless they found out from experience the fine points of manufacturing that have made these cements as good as they are to-day.
It was great fun launching this campaign to place our new cement on the market. We all talked Golden Bay Cement. At home we had a gramophone record “The Church's One Foundation,” which my youngest brother facetiously called the Golden Bay cement record. Our first newspaper advertisement was rather a good one. Brett's history of New Zealand told of the tragedy that befell some of Tasman's crew. It also told of the gold rush and the re-naming of the bay, followed by the discovery of coal at Puponga, on the other side of the bay. We then wrote a short article on the place, giving its history and finishing on the last line “… and now a great industry has sprung into being with the erection of works that manufacture Golden Bay cement.” The title of the article was Tasman's First Voyage to New Zealand; this innocent-looking headline, and a recital of interesting historical facts carried the reader right down to the advertisement. Some of our friends laughingly chided us with fooling them. I do not claim originality for this form of advertisement, but it served our purpose well so far as Golden Bay cement was concerned.
Another good advertisement was from a map of New Zealand. It could have been the forerunner of the modern German maps which show the seas as a black background and countries white. I drew a small map of our Dominion, using Indian Ink for the sea. There was nothing printed on the map except the sea route from Tarakohe to Lyttelton, and the words “Where Golden Bay Cement comes from.” This map arrested attention, was informative, and proved a great help to salesmen. We printed thousands in post-card form, sent them to clients to use when ordering, and used them ourselves in acknowledging country orders.
Cement moved on to become one of New Zealand's greatest industries. A higher tariff and improved quality sufficed to win the battle against English cement. Wilson's absorbed its Auckland competitors, to become Wilson's Portland Cement Company, the biggest manufacturers in New Zealand, while, after taking over Burnside, the Milburn Company also became page 464 stronger than ever. Prior to the amalgamation of the Golden Bay and British Standard Cement companies, I was for three years Managing Director of the former; this added enormously to the cares of an already busy life. The newly formed British Standard Cement Company had large financial resources and by joining forces with Golden Bay at once made the combined interests a concern of considerable strength, and avoided the erection of additional works, the output of which would have destroyed the balance between supply and demand on the New Zealand market.
To-day, New Zealand cement is universally used in the building industry in this country. The Golden Bay Company had developed into a fine concern that produces cement comparable with the best that England can make. We have remained their Canterbury agents since the inception of the company in 1910.
An interesting story runs through our earliest operations in the lime business. Many years ago, James McDonald, his wife and family of small children, arrived in New Zealand from Scotland. McDonald, who was a man of immense stature and stood 6 feet 4 inches in height, established lime kilns at Milburn, and became the foremost lime burner in Otago. The business proved a great success, and he was soon a wealthy man. Although his life had been spent solely in the lime business, he had a fanatical belief that he could manufacture cement; he founded what is now the Milburn Cement Company. While profits continued to flow from the lime kilns they all went into the new cement works. Without scientific assistance, his product was subject to all the variations arising from rule-of-thumb methods. It was a hard struggle, even in normal times, but when the depression years of the 'eighties and early 'nineties fell like a blight upon both the primary and secondary industries of the country, McDonald was submerged in a sea of trouble that overwhelmed so many businesses. He lost not only his cement works, but his lime kilns as well. The Milburn Cement Company of Dunedin was then formed and bought out his interests.
It was a broken-hearted man that moved with his family to the district of Oamaru, noted for its rich limestone deposits. With the determination of the Scot he started afresh and built lime kilns at Totaratahi, six miles from Oamaru. He had just page 465 completed the kiln when he died, leaving a family of two sons and three daughters. One of the sons was as tall as his father, while the eldest daughter was about six feet, one of the tallest women I have seen. While the sons had brawn and muscle and worked the quarries and the kilns, it was the daughters who inherited the brains of their father and showed a natural aptitude for business.
In the earliest years of their operations the eldest sister used to travel to Christchurch and other places to sell her lime. She had many heart-breaking experiences. Firstly, she was handicapped by prejudice against a woman in a man's business; and secondly, it was hard to get on to the market against old-established firms. She got plenty of sympathy, but few orders. It needed a firm with a store to handle lime successfully, so she appointed my brother her agent in Canterbury. As in the case of cement, a connection with the builders gave McDonald's lime its start. City buildings in those days were all built in stone or brick, with lime mortar, so the contractors and plasterers were big users of lime.
My brother had already established a good lime business by the time I returned from England. We continued to have long years of happy relations and successful business with the McDonald family. It was an unusual experience to have to do all our lime business with two women. They both had a great sense of humour and this helped them tremendously. It was not until they floated their business into a company, in which we took shares, that we knew and were astonished to learn how much money they had been making; it was necessary for them to disclose this to justify the amount they were claiming for goodwill.
They had reason to feel grateful for the part we played in helping them to do so well. The first time I visited the kilns was in the winter of 1907. The works were three miles from the railway station, the lime being carted by road, with the drays often nearly axle-deep in mud: after heavy rain it was sometimes impossible to cart for several days. When I looked over the ground I said to the Misses McDonald, “Why don't you put a railway siding into the kilns?”
They had never thought of it. “It would cost too much! … It couldn't be put along the road … We would never get permission to cross the paddocks or farm lands.”page 466
These all seemed formidable obstacles, but I stuck to my guns and said they would never make money unless they did. The next time I went to Oamaru we again argued the point. They now wanted to talk about it. They could picture the possibilities. Perhaps Mr. Shale would allow them to put a line through the fields. But they had no money! The rails and sleepers represented the principal part of the cost. I asked the McDonalds if they could finance the labour and formation part of the work if I could arrange terms for the materials. They thought they could. At that time the New Zealand Railway Department was lifting 40 lb. rails on branch lines to replace them with heavier rails. On my return to Christchurch I went to Wellington to interview the Hon. J. A. Millar, Minister of Railways. I had a good story to tell when it came to the part which told how the daughters and sons of the late James McDonald were now battling to restore the family fortunes. Mr. Millar was a Dunedin man and knew all about the Milburn lime kilns and the origin of the Milburn Cement Company. He received me kindly and was very sympathetic. He said it was an unusual request, but finally agreed to supply all the rails, points and sleepers needed and to make the siding, provided they were paid for in two years.
I also helped the McDonalds in the negotiations with the farmers for the right to pass through their properties. From the moment the branch line was put into operation they began to make money. They always showed their gratitude, but this did not blunt their bargaining powers, or soften their hearts when it came to the matter of price for their lime! We still fought for pennies when fixing the rate per bag.
The lime business received a severe check when concrete forged ahead practically to eliminate bricks and lime mortar from all big buildings erected in the city. It is worth recording how the bricklayers themselves contributed to their own eclipse. The pioneer tradesmen from the Old Country brought with them skill and energy which were to establish building costs that seem incredible when compared with those of the present day. The second generation was equally proficient. In the bricklaying trade 1,000 bricks per man was the minimum standard rate; in America, with smaller bricks, it was more than 2,000. The work of carpenters was of the same high standard. It should be said that this was in the days when page 467 there was competition for work and the best worker more likely to get regular employment.
The boom time which followed the first World War saw a changed labour market, and powerful trade unions were able to exert an influence never previously felt. A more independent spirit prevailed among the men. Soon the ca' canny policy I had seen in some parts of Australia was to creep into New Zealand, but with boomerang effect. The 1,000 bricks per day dropped to 800, then to 600, then below 500. A well-known brick-maker in a North Island town told me the position became so bad that he organized a meeting between the brick-makers, contractors and the Bricklayers' Union to discuss the effect reinforced concrete was having upon their industry. A standard of 800 bricks per day was agreed upon, but it was too late, for the concrete mixer had already forced the use of cement into all kinds of buildings previously built in brick. I suppose this would have happened in any case, but it was hastened in the manner I have shown.
The bricklayers of this time certainly deserve the reproach that is to be seen in a question asked by a small child. When a man and his daughter were walking in the city they stopped to look up at the parapet of a new brick building, nearing completion. The little girl asked, “Why do they have all those statues on the top of that building, Daddy?”
The father's reply was: “They're not statues, my dear, they're bricklayers!”
An important business was added to ours when, in the year 1910, we became associated with the third generation of the Deanses, the pioneer family of the Canterbury province. Their old estate of “Homebush” was situated about thirty-six miles from Christchurch, on which estate were a coal mine and pottery works. They had a city depot and railway siding in Christchurch, which now became the yard for our combined interests, under Reese Brothers' management. This gave them the assistance of our selling organization; it also gave us the advantages of a railway siding for the handling of all our cement and lime, etc., as well as reducing overhead costs to both parties. This brought us into the coal business and also the sale of drain pipes. Coal was first discovered on the Homebush Estate in the Malvern Hills as far back as 1871, and “Homebush,” a lignite coal, became known throughout page 468 the northern part of the province of Canterbury. We had very happy relations with the much respected John and James Deans.
Another important agency is our representation of the North British Rubber Company, one of those fine old concerns that have helped to win for Britain its world-wide reputation for the manufacture of quality goods. Whilst at times unable to compete with the low costs of mass production by great American concerns favoured with an enormous local market, this staunch Scottish Company has nevertheless held its ground in the many important lines manufactured by them. I remember when a boy at Andersons how workmen referred to North British belting as being the best in the world. Throughout the years this reputation has stood them in good stead. The years of business relations with our principals in Edinburgh and London have given us an insight into the character and methods of the men of the Old Country who have made Britain the most respected and most trusted of all trading nations.
Early in our careers, my brother and I realized the value of combined effort and it was not long before we had around us a group of able young men whose exertions and team-work were to play a notable part in the development of our business. I cannot conclude this story of the early days of Reese Brothers' trading without referring to the loyalty of Claude Peters, Frank Drake and Leslie Petrie, whose combined services with the firm aggregate a hundred years, and who now play leading parts in the control of our organization.