George F. Johnson
George F. Johnson established the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, which was the largest shoe manufacturer in the United States at the time.
But what made him a truly great business leader were his employee reforms, most of which are still in force today.
George F. Johnson – A Legacy In Employee Relations
Johnson ran the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company with much success, but he cared for his employees well. Johnson had a background in shoemaking because he worked for other shoe manufacturers for 10 years.
When he turned 24, he worked for the Lester Brothers shoe company, already showing great promise at an early age.
The Lester Brothers company was not very successful, but Johnson had a dream. When the Lester Brothers needed money, they invited Henry Endicott to become an investor.
Eventually, Johnson was able to buy his share of the company. During his time at the helm of the company, it provided supplies to the United States Armed Forces in the First and the Second World Wars.
But Johnson’s contribution to American corporate history was not so much his business acumen as his people skills. The thousands of employees who worked for the Endicott- Johnson Company were treated as equals by Johnson. They came from different backgrounds and far-off places, but he gave all of them the same chance to make an honest and decent living.
As early as 1919, Johnson started profit-sharing for his employees. Even during the Great Depression, employees of the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company did not fall on hard times. When times were hard, employees respected and loved their employer that they never resorted to joining a union.
He gave all his workers comprehensive medical care, in addition to wages that were always significantly higher than industry standards. Every worker knew that they would be well taken care of even when accident or sickness struck.
In fact, Johnson even built a Recreation Park for his workers, where they could enjoy the pool, tennis courts, and carousel. Eventually, free trade brought the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company to ruin. But for the workers whose lives Johnson touched, his legacy remains.
The George F. Johnson Quick Bio
Full name: George F. Johnson
Company: Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company
Industry: Fabric and Apparel
Key success traits: care for employees, business acumen
A monument was put up in Birmingham in memory of George Johnson and his contribution to fair and kind employee relations a legacy that lives on to this day.