Chapter 23: In Gouda We Trust!!
Uploaded June 5th, 2000
With the result that the money-men in Portland had little hesitation in underwriting just about any business venture that Lazyacre managed to concoct. And the interesting thing was, he was a good businessman and his various endeavours flourished in their own right, so not only was the solicitor able to service his debts but in fact he steadily became a very wealthy man and partook in the provision of credit himself.
Now Jack had long ago learnt that while a man may become a Jack-of-all-trades, he cannot master too many of them, so he took opportunites as they arose to place in positions of management and importance those men who had shown that they were capable of doing a better job in a particular position that Jack could do himself.
With the result that as the years passed his various business ventures were managed by people who knew their particular niches backwards and the enterprises flourished beyond expectation.
One of the best examples of Jack's acumen in picking the right man for the right job was when he promoted a young shipping clerk to managerial responsibility at the Fenster Cheese Factory, an establishment in which he had gained a controlling interest via canny investment and a lucky turn of the cards one smoky, stormy night in the parlour of the Hotel.
The young clerk was called Ernie Lampard, born and raised in the South-East and moved to the valley of the Toenail Ridge in answer to advertisements extolling the virtues of a permanently wet and clammy climate.
He had gained employment in the cheese factory due to his previous experience in bookkeeping and the fact that he was a likeable young fellow with an air of confidence and competence.
Not long after beginning duties he had begun to submit notes suggesting improvements in management practices, in cost-cutting steps across the whole gamut of the factory operations, from importation of raw milk from the outlying farms via the Toenail Ridge Shortline, to delivery of the cheesey comestible after packaging and packing. He even submitted a detailed analysis, complete with relevant advertisments from the Sears-Roebuck catalogue, on how the purchase of fountain pens for all members of the white-collar staff would be cost-effective in paying for itself in only nineteen months, just in the savings in pen nibs alone.
Plus, of course, there was the added saving of no longer having to employ an extra office boy to just keep the individual inkwells topped up. And being an intelligent young man he also took the opportunity to forward a copy of his proposal to the Sears-Roebuck Company itself, with a little note suggesting that on conclusion of this large bulk purchase a commission may be perhaps considered favourably by the management of this huge mail-order house.
Now any manager worth his salt will immediately, on receipt of such a proposal, notify the proposer's employer that said employee is seeking to profit privately from the business of his employer.
And that is exactly what the mail-order manager in Chicago did, forwarding Lampard's proposal to the Fenster Cheese Co. management, where it subsequently landed on the desk of New Jersey Jack Lazyacre.
The old adage is 'set a thief to catch a thief'.
Using the same reasoning, use one entrepeneur to recognize another. With no delay, Lazyacre had Ernie Lampard paged to attend upon the director in his office, there to discuss the private proposal that the humble clerk had made to Sears-Robuck.
And kindly bring all relevant paper-work with you.
Oh, and the sample fountain pen.
And the Sears catalogue.
And, incidentally, clean out your desk, you won't be needing it anymore.
The following couple of hours flew by for both men as Ernie Lampard shared his vision of converting the rural and rustic cheese factory into a market leading super-facility. He had even dreamed up a name for it, a name he hoped would become synonymous with the word 'Cheese'.
"Well?" snapped Lazyacre.
"We'll use the initials of our sales slogan!" exclaimed Ernie."Keen, Ripe, Always Pure, Healthy, Tasty!"
"KRAPHT! And we can expand! Make more types of cheese! Advertise 27 varieties! The world could become our mollusc! We could even branch out into raising our own milk herds on our own ranches! Just think of it! Krapht spreads!"
Well, enthusiasm like this is contagious so it didn't take too much more discussion before Lazyacre himself was alight with the zeal of expansion and progress. He sent out for lunch for the pair of them, and as they ate his desk slowly disappeared under the notes and diagrams pouring endlessly from the pencil of Ernie Lampard, as he extolled his vision of the company and its direction.
Of course it would take considerable finance to realise some of his plans but the returns over a decade or so would be above imagination, and they both saw visions in their heads of endless wealth and leisure.
Within a matter of weeks contractors from Portland had arrived in the valley via the Toenail Ridge Shortline, and extra boxcars had imported fittings and fastenings for the extensions to the Fenster Cheese Company.
The local sawmill moved into high gear to deliver the amount of finished lumber required and every extra pair of hands between Selbyville and Rowell found themselves with steady employment as the additions grew.
The management of the Toenail Ridge Shortline had it pointed out to them by New Jersey Jack Lazyacre that it would be in their financial interest to extend the trailing spur to the loading docks, and in fact a passing loop and additional storage sidings would probably pay for themselves in short order too.
Now it's been documented in other places that the Shortline management were not the most generous body of individuals when it came to parting with the cash so it took considerable acumen and sales ability on the part of the solicitor to get them to agree to the trackage that he had requested, and even then they went out of their way to save every cent, even to the stage of re-using old rail and switches which had been lying dormant and rusty in the weeds at the back of the Selbyville service facility.
But as the factory extensions grew, the track gang from Rowel moved in under the direction of the foreman, JD, and began the laborious task of trenching, lining, ballasting and laying ties to receive the rail. The Porter under the control of Tony was seconded to the work train, shunting in flatcars loaded with rail to the railhead of the new sidings.
The mainline was closed for a day while a new switch was cut in to allow the construction of a short passing loop, but given the irregularity of the regular services on the Shortline not too many people were inconvenienced by the loss of their train service for a day, in fact, one group of passengers booked on the afternoon combine didn't get the message of cancellation and just assumed that the train was running its usual half-hour to three days late.
One of the great advantages of the new passing loop was that the approach to the cheese factory siding was now a trailing switch as well as the original facing switch so the shunting moves to get the reefers in and out was greatly simplified to the point where just about anybody could do the job, to the great chagrin of the yard hostler Gary.
As the construction approached its conclusion and the imposing new edifice increasingly dominated the immediate area, Lazyacre and Lampard took to standing together across the tracks opposite the new loading dock, hands in pockets, hats on the backs of their heads and brain-storming the changed operations that were about to go into effect.
With the usual inertia of "It's always been done this way", some of the longer term employees of Fenster had been vocal in their opposition to any change in the method of working or the type of produce produced, but fortunately this was in the days before labor organisations so they were given the message to shape up or ship out, so with the willingness shown by a puppy being dragged in to face its latest mess on the carpet they accepted the dawning of the new age.
Lampard had made enquiries in Portland and Seattle regarding the requests that shoppers made of local merchants, especially those shoppers who had recently journeyed from the East or returned from foreign climes, and amongst the suggestions he had accumulated was one that indicated a desire on the part of the Great American Public for a cheese of convenience, a cheese more readily placed in the bread, a cheese, in short, on which the hard work had already been performed.
Cheese slices. The size of a piece of bread cheese slices.
Cheese slices just ready to be removed from their wrapping and placed on their slice, there to be embellished with the condiments and acoutrements of the consumer's wish.
In short, sliced cheese!
He presented his findings to Lazyacre,along with information on slicing equipment which he had solicited from all over the country. At this time of the century most repetitive jobs in industry were performed by the newest additions to the staff, or the women, or the blacks, since none of them had too much say in requesting more challenging or rewarding tasks, with the result that a lot of the feedback Lampard had received on his search for slicing machinery was on the lines of "buy some sharp knives and hire yourself a bunch more (insert preferred ethnic, racial or sexist slur here)'s".
He had in desperation approached the blacksmith for advice and that worthy had put his thinking gear into operation and come up with a slew of drawings that might or might not be the plans for a new locomotive for the Shortline, or a buzzsaw for the sawmill, or a water pump for one of the silver mines in the back hills.
In fact, he assured Lampard, what it was was plans for a steam-powered contrivance specifically designed to slice cheese. It had the decided advantage of being compact, requiring only a modest addition to the factory of about fifty by fifty feet, it needed only four men to operate it, it was capable of handling continuous input of produce at one end and would deliver constant delivery of finished slices at the other, they appearing one after the other on their conveyor belt, there to be conveyed to the wrapping staff sitting at their long tables with piles of wax paper on one side of them and fresh cardboard boxes in the new color scheme of blue and yellow on the other.
Fortunately the Fenster Cheese factory already had a considerable steam plant in operation, which was primarily used to power the machinery via a web of overhead pulleys and leather belts, so power to the proposed addition wouldn't be a problem.
And of course, this being the age of cheap labor and cheap lives, the additional workforce was at the beck and call of management, so it didn't take too much further talk before the Lazyacre cartel had given its benevolent nod to the new factory manager and again, construction was underway.
Now one of the problems with a new product on the market is to bring it to the attention of the purchaser, in this case, the little American housewife doing her shopping at the local General Store.
Especially in the age before radio or television.
And along with those vital late-20th century occupations of telephone sanitizer and nail technician, the advertising executive had not yet evolved, so Ernie Lampard was on his own when it came to organizing exposure for the new KRAPHT sliced cheese.
Fortunately for the entrepreneur of the early part of this century, the concept of truth-in-advertising had not reared its ugly head yet so the maxim "Caveat Emptor...Let the buyer beware..." was never more neccessary than when a prospective purchaser read the benefits and boons of a product in the daily press.
So obviously this was the direction in which Lampard headed.
The newspaper needs of the local community were ably met in the form of the weekly Toenail Ridge Examiner, but the Fenster Cheese Factory sought a wider audience so the new young manager took himself away to Portland on the Toenail Ridge Shortline and the Portland & Great Eastern, there to discuss in depth the inception of an advertising campaign via the printed media that would saturate the area of the Pacific Northwest.
Once upon a time in the western part of the United States, there lived a giant by the name of Rudolph Hearse, a newspaperman's newspaperman. He had built an empire and a fortune on the premise, well proven, that the average man-in-the-street will buy or believe anything so long as it is well presented.
(Incidentally, nowhere is this maxim more proven than in the hamburger industry.....)
Hearse ran a chain of daily newspapers that depended for their enormous circulation figures on the editorial mandate of never letting the facts get in the way of a good story.
So obviously it was to these shapers of public opinion that Ernie Lampard hied himself.
He had obtained from Lazyacre an introductory letter that gained him introduction to the higher levels of management in the Hearse heirarchy, who in turn introduced the young sales manager to the best lie-scribers on the continent. These lie-scribers, officially know as advertising copywriters, took it upon themselves to concoct suitable copy that would convince the dollar-wielding housewife that she had spent her whole life just in anticipation of purchasing KRAPHT cheese slices from the Fenster Cheese Co.
Now this was still in the days when the news in a newspaper started about four pages in, the first three pages being advertisments extolling everything from magnetic belts for impotence to arsenic compounds to benefit milady's complexion, and all presented with voluminous testimonials to their efficacy.
Some of the advertisments even went to the extreme attention-grabbing length of including a drawing of the product in question, or a depiction of a cripple rising from his life-long bed of pain to resume a full and active life-style following just one application of the relevant product.
So it was with only a modicum of surprise that Ernie Lampard read in the first submissions from the lie-scribers that his sliced Fenster KRAPHT cheese not only :
contained every vitamin, mineral, herb and natural beneficial ingredient known to medical and homeopathic science,
not only was it produced in the most pristine and hygienic facilities,
not only was it the food of choice of the entire West Virginia Fire Department and a mandatory inclusion in all New Jersey school cafeteria lunches,
the new slices were so convenient, so well sized, so perfect to the purpose that it would be only a matter of time before some enterprising baker started to produce loaves of bread already pre-cut to fit the magnificent invention of the century, KRAPHT cheese slices!
And the slices were so neat and sharp that the master of the house could use them instead of his cut-throat razor!
Well, Ernie was a reasonably honest young feller so he quickly had that last claim crossed out, but the rest of the screed seemed to be pretty reasonable so without further ado he approved the insertion of the advertisment into every newspaper on the West coast that was controlled by the Hearse empire, as well as the three small-town weeklies that weren't.
Then he hied himself back to Rowel on the Portland and Great Eastern railroad, transferred to the Toenail Ridge Shortline, and once again entered the valley of the Toenail Ridge to impart to his boss and mentor the undertakings to which he had committed the Fenster Cheese Company.
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