My dad, grandfather, and Uncle Gene had positions where they hired men for specific jobs.
In the early years of his career with the Chicago Tribune, my dad was responsible for hiring men to run newspaper agencies. He traveled the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin to find the men he would train and supervise. Where did he find them? Not on college campuses or in wealthy neighborhoods. He found them in pool halls and gyms devoted to boxing.
He hired young, competitive men who were not afraid to get their hands dirty and also had driving energy because those two elements, he said, were necessary to operate a news agency.
My dad always said the best man he ever hired was Dave Rubin, whom he found hustling pool in Springfield, Illinois. Dave became the owner of an agency in Dayton, Ohio, and before he retired, he owned three agencies.
In the 10 years my dad spent hiring men for the Tribune, his successes outnumbered his failures, and the men he hired remained his friends even after he became circulation manager and no longer oversaw their work.
My grandfather was a civil engineer, and he hired men who had to work with their hands as well as their minds. He followed a simple rule: train a man well, and if the man had a problem, train him again, but if the man failed after being re-trained, my grandfather would fire him.
Over a period of many years, my grandfather and his crews built roads and bridges throughout the Chicago area, and they were on tight schedules that did not allow room for errors.
When my family decided to build a patio in our backyard in 1954, my grandfather hired a crew that had worked for him for 20 years. I remember watching the men work. They took no needless breaks, and they worked steadily until the job was completed, on schedule.
My uncle Gene was an industrial engineer who worked as plant manager at Victor Gasket at Central and Roosevelt. His attitude toward hiring and retaining men was the same as my grandfather’s.
The majority of the men he hired had factory experience, but one time he took a chance on a 19-year-old man who appeared to have promise. The young guy was to be trained as a fork lift operator by one of the foremen.
When his brief training period was completed, he was assigned to a fork lift, but the first day, he knocked over another worker, who, fortunately, was not injured. Did Gene fire both the young man and the foreman? No, he took the time to re-teach them the assigned job.
Gene spent two full days re-training the two men, and then they were able to do the job correctly.
The policy of choosing the right man for the job extended to hiring tradesmen who would work at our home. The hiring process was in-depth, but when the right man was chosen, the work was excellent.