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36
STRATEGY

Deja Vu All Over Again: the Virtual Start-Up
 

A quick look at how Motorola's founder met his early demands for goods with both temporary workers and space.
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On September 25, 1928, Paul Galvin invested $750 to found the Galvin Manufacturing Corp. (later known as Motorola) and set up shop on half the first floor of a six-story building on Chicago's Harrison Street. He had so little working capital that he couldn't even afford desks for his five employees. To make matters worse, he would often get orders requiring him to produce large batches of radios on very short notice. The problem was, he had no place to put the people he hired to build them.

Then Galvin discovered that the floors above his space were empty or only partially occupied. He came up with a plan whereby, when a big order came in, his brother Joe would surreptitiously commandeer space on another floor and, overnight, run wiring up through the walls. The following morning Galvin would bring in temporary workers and set them up on worktables upstairs. By the next night, the men, the tables, and the wiring would have vanished. "It was the damnedest thing," recalled one employee. "Those tables and that wiring used to appear and disappear like magic. I remember once, when there was no space available anywhere else, Joe set up a couple of boys on a table in the men's washroom." And so it continued -- over the protests of the landlord -- until Galvin could afford to expand in the usual fashion.

Last updated: Aug 1, 1996




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