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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  J. M. Gilbert


The New York Times
April 26, 1914

Appointment of Engineer, Subject Only to President, Has Solved It, Says Gilbert.

How to handle the final testing of cars has always been a problem in automobile factories.  It seems simple, but is in fact a difficult matter to handle, according to J. M. Gilbert, President of one of the motor companies.

"Of course, the various inspections of parts and tests of motors, axles, and chassis are made under the supervision of the different department heads," said he the other day.  "These automatically check each other.  It is the final test—the last inspection of each finished car just before it is shipped—that causes trouble and heart burnings and harsh words at times.  So small a thing as a screwdriver omitted from the tool kit of a new car may cause complaint from the recipient—it must not occur.  A sound however nearly inaudible, a tight or a loose door, a careless bit of trimming, a speck of dirt in the gasoline tank, wrong adjustment of oil or gasoline; smoke from the muffler—these things are considered of the utmost importance.  How to prevent them is the problem.

"I finally hit on a plan that is working to perfection in our plants.  Instead of intrusting the final inspection either to the production or the sales department, I have appointed an inspector who reports only to the President.  He is amenable to no others, is subject to orders and can be removed only by the President.  It relieves the sales department of all worry and complaints.  As the only one who can say accuracy before speed, the President is the only one who can determine impartially when speed interferes—if it ever does—with accuracy.  As I consider this a matter of the utmost importance, I appointed instead of a mere mechanic a man who is an engineer. I'd like to see a car get past him that isn't in perfect tune or finished to the last detail.  Since the inauguration of this plan the complaints of whatsoever nature—even a loose top iron or the omission of a tire iron from a tool kit—have been reduced to less than one a day average.

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