Ware Brothers vs. Chicago Roller Skate

Dad always said, “Keep your mouth shut.” Here is one of the reasons. Dad used to sell Davenports to either Chicago Roller Skate Company or Ware Brothers, or both-Can’t remember.

In any event, roller skate wheels used to be made out of hard wood doweling. It came is short lengths and was relatively expensive. The wheels were made by turning the doweling in a lathe. Drilling, counter boring, turning the OD and cutting off. One of the men in the shop came up with the idea that instead of turning the wheels from doweling, maybe they could be finished from stamped blanks made from hardwood planks. The owner agreed to let him try it and very quickly the cost of wheels dropped by ninety percent. Of course they only cut the price by ten percent and rapidly cornered the market on roller skate wheels.

Unfortunately, this only lasted a short time and soon the other company met the price and lowered it a little. The ensuing price war resulted in the cost of roller skate wheels plummeting to ten percent of the former cost. The owner realized that someone had let the cat out of the bag but couldn’t imagine who.

Several months later the insurance safety inspector, a rather dim witted man, came through the plant on his annual inspection tour. He noticed the punch presses stamping out the blank wheels and said to the Owner, “I see you are still stamping out wheel blanks.” When I inspected the other plant in town I was surprised to see that they were still turning from hardwood doweling and asked them why they weren’t stamping.

Well, Dad said they guy was lucky the plant was only one story or else he surely would have been killed when the owner threw him out the window!

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