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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Alfred Reeves


The New York Times
April 12, 1914

Alfred Reeves, Manager of Auto Chamber of Commerce, Tells of Chance for Young Men.


Points Out at Y. M. C. A. Automobile School Various Lanes of Success in the Business.

That young men of ambition were in demand in the automobile industry, and that opportunities for them were even more attractive than ever, was the statement of Alfred Reeves, General Manager of the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, in his address at the recent opening of the tenth year of the West Side Young Men's Christian Association automobile school.  Besides presenting figures proving the steady growth of the industry and its widening field, Mr. Reeves told of the individual departments of the business that offered openings, and the type of men needed for the work.

"The making and marketing of 400,000 cars a year is a big business, to say nothing of the care and maintenance of more than 1,000,000 cars now in use," said he, "while for the man who can make improvements, devise economical manufacturing methods, and conceive more efficient selling plans, the field is almost unlimited.  The lack of thoroughness in their work is the greatest weakness of the men now employed in the industry.

"Because of the tremendous sale of motor cars last year, and every year for the past ten, there are many who claim that the absorption point should soon be reached.  For example, last year some $400,000,000 worth of cars were sold, yet the field is still large because of the great purchasing power of our people, the absolute need for more automobiles in this country, and the needs of the world at large, whose trade this country is certain to secure, as indicated by its present aggressive campaign, which gave us last year almost $39,000,000 worth of foreign automobile trade.

"There are more than 100 substantial concerns that are factors in the automobile trade, practically all of which are members of the association which I have the honor to represent, and with very few exceptions they are all prosperous, and supplying cars of various types. A few of them, because of limited capital or lack of ability, are certain to pass, just as we have failures in other industries.  Nevertheless, this country will continue to absorb not less than 400,000 cars a year for many years to come, which is the main reason why the young man should enter the trade.

"It is an excellent business for the young man because it is not overcrowded, because it is really a man's business, and because it offers an unlimited field for young America's talents in any department he may select, whether engineering, manufacturing, or selling.  It is a great business because in it there are no so-called trusts, which some people seem to think menace a young man's prospects.  The automobile business is largely an individual business, and factories and the various departments of factories seem to be the most successful where they have been permitted to work out their various problems.

"For engineers and inventors, a rare opportunity is offered," continued Mr. Reeves, "because the automobile of to-day must undergo many radical changes before it can be considered an up-to-date model in 1925.  While the next ten years may not show so many radical changes in the outline of the motor car, there are certain to be many improvements in mechanical design and construction, and they must be created and worked out by American engineers.

"For one wishing to become a salesman, the automobile business is equally prolific with its rewards, because it takes a substantial number of very good men to sell $400,000,000 worth of any product in twelve months.  The salesman of the past has not been very hard pressed to sell his product, the cars having practically sold themselves, but now a real campaign of selling must be carried on, and the good man will rise above the poor one.

"If one plans to become a chauffeur, the calling is certainly of more than ordinary standing.  The work is healthful, and the chauffeur receives what we must consider a good salary.  With the increasing number of people buying cars that must be piloted by skilled men, and with the high standing in which the good chauffeur is held and the need for so many more of them, here is a field most attractive.  A chauffeur must be of good habits, good health, and good sense, which means good judgment, so necessary in operating cars in a city like New York, where sometimes quick decision and rapid action alone avoid accidents.

"It will be seen, therefore, that in almost every department of the business, there are opportunities for young men.  In car making, the factories offer rare chances in the various departments that go to make up a complete factory, whether it be purchasing, experimental, testing, engineering, sales, manufacturing, accounting, costs, or many others equally important.

"Atop of all this we must also consider the commercial field, and by that I mean vehicles for business use only, which is opening up in a manner that indicates a substantial future.  It does not take a great prophet to predict that the time is not so very far off when the good old horse will receive his well-earned rest, and become the pet, rather than the slave, of civilization.  While it has taken some years to change the figures it is a fact that in the big cities the horse traffic is falling off, and the motor truck traffic is taking its place.  Note the fact that the motor truck travels twice as fast, carrying twice the load, and occupying only half the space, which is equal to increasing the width of the streets three times."

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