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George F. Johnson
Born George Francis Johnson
1857
Milford, Massachusetts, USA
Died 1948 (aged 90–91)
Nationality American
Other names George F
Occupation Businessman
Years active 1881-1948
Home town New York, USA
Known for Co-owner of Endicott-Johnson Co.

George Francis Johnson (1857-1948) was an American businessman.

Contents

Biography

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Early life

He was born in Milford, Massachusetts. In 1881, after 10 years of experience in the shoe and boot-making factories in his home state, he was hired as the supervisor of a work crew in a section of a shoe factory in Binghamton, New York. Nine years later he became superintendent of that company’s new plant, which was located in the community of Lestershire, New York, and said to be the largest factory of its kind in the entire world.

Endicott-Johnson Co.

In 1899, Johnson became co-owner of the business, which was renamed the Endicott-Johnson Co. Under his presidency, the company grew to eight factories in Broome County, New York, employing about 10,000. Endicott-Johnson was the first company in the shoe industry to introduce the 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek, and comprehensive medical care. Despite paying some of the highest wages in the industry, Endicott-Johnson was consistently profitable.

Until he died in 1948, Johnson saw to it that Endicott-Johnson employees received a range of benefits that were not typically offered by most employers at the time. He valued his employees and had the company build high quality homes for them (which the employees could buy for rates as low as $7 per week, with an interest rate of only 1 percent). The company also created parks (containing swimming pools and carousels that anyone could ride for free), medical facilities, restaurants, libraries, and recreational facilities—all designed to provide high quality goods and services to the employees for free or at a low cost.

The community of Lestershire was renamed Johnson City, New York in 1916, and Endicott-Johnson built two arches over the area’s main road in the early ’20s, one at the entrance to Johnson City and the other in Endicott, New York stating that they were the gateways to the "Square Deal Towns". Endicott-Johnson would become the largest manufacturer of footwear in the United States, employing 24,000 workers at its peak.

Legacy

George F. Johnson Elementary School, built in 2000, was named after him. It is part of the Union-Endicott Central School District.

Further reading

  • William Inglis, George Johnson and His Industrial Democracy (Copyright 1955 by Huntington Press, Inc.) - a glorified version of the company's history sponsored by the company.
  • Partner's All, subtitled A pictorial narrative of an Industrial Democracy (Copyright 1938 by Huntington Corporation) - a glorified version of the company's history sponsored by the company and characterized on the frontpiece as A souvenir gift to the E.J. Workers from George F. Johnson.
  • Gerald Zahavi, Workers, Managers, and Welfare Capitalism: The Shoemakers and Tanners of Endicott Johnson, 1890-1950. (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1988).
  • The following document -- "Report of Meeting of Edge Trimmers—is an HTML copy of a typescript found in box 19, George F. Johnson Papers, George Arents Research Library for Special Collections, Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y. It is a transcription of conversations that took place during a meeting held between George F. Johnson and a group of the firm's edge trimmers who had begun to organize. The meeting was held on September 1, 1927. http://www.albany.edu/history/history316/ej_trimmers.html.

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