The rubber industry was an industry born in bankruptcy and built through bankruptcies. Many of the great rubber barons found themselves or company in bankruptcy courts. Bankruptcies defined the very nature and structure of the rubber industry we know today. Fortunately, the rubber industry has always proven as elastic as its product.
The very man that invented rubber, Charles Goodyear, started out in a Philadelphia debtor's prison after failing in the hardware business. Amazingly near the end of his life he would return to prison again for debt problems over his failing rubber enterprise. Bankruptcy and failure would become part of the story of rubber.
Harvey Firestone entered the rubber business after failing in other businesses, B. F. Goodrich after failing in earlier business endeavors such as oil drilling moved his failed rubber company from New England to start over in Akron, and F. A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Rubber, was forced out of the company he founded to avoid a total bankruptcy of the company and lost most of his personal wealth. Rubber proved far from an elastic gold, but it would be an industrial jewel, once conquered.
In the early years, it was a search for an American location to process the rubber of the tropics. The industry would shift from its roots in New England to Akron, Ohio. The collapse of the industry is the story of the de-industrialisation of America.
About the Author
Quentin R. Skrabec, Jr., an international expert in operations management, manufacturing and globalisation, is the author of numerous books on American industrial history, American capitalism and notable business leaders.
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