George Hummer and the creation of West Michigan Furniture
George Hummer created just one of Holland’s first mass-production factories.
Hummer was born in 1856 in New Jersey. His father’s name was Peter Snyder — but, when he was 6 months aged, George Hummer and his family members adopted him.
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When he was a young boy, the Hummers moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. There, George attended community faculty. He afterwards graduated from the Northern Indiana Typical School in Valparaiso, Indiana (afterwards Valparaiso University).
In 1882, Hummer grew to become Holland’s superintendent of educational facilities, a put up he retained for 7 several years. In that time, he greater enrollment in the significant school and turned regarded for his general public relations, teaching and disciplinary skills.
In 1885, George married Marguerite Plugger, daughter of Aldert Plugger. Plugger had a flour mill close to the foot of Maple Avenue and Eighth Avenue, as well as a transport small business. In 1856, in the parlor of his residence on Eighth Street, where the Warm Good friend is right now, Plugger hosted Holland’s to start with banker, Nathan Kenyon.
In 1885, George and Margaret married. They elevated three kids in their James Huntley-created household at 191 W. 12th St. — Hilda, Marguerite and Kate..
In 1889, with Margaret’s inheritance, Hummer formed West Michigan Home furnishings with associates Frank W. Hadden and Frederick Metz on the aged Plugger Mill house. The corporation, which at first built “reduced to mid-close” common bedroom and dining space furnishings for buyers on the East Coast, was at once successful.
At its initially anniversary, the firm employed 100 people. Soon thereafter, Hummer set up Edison lights, bolstering the company’s efficiency on Holland’s dark wintertime days.
In 1892, Hummer — along with William Seaside, Cornelius DeRoo, John C. Publish, Isaac Cappon, Dr. Henry Kremers and some others — shaped the Holland and Chicago Transportation Business, which ran steamers between Holland and Chicago. Like most of them, Hummer was also an influential shareholder in 1st State Financial institution.
Throughout the deep economic downturn that adopted the Wall Avenue Panic of 1893, 300 of West Michigan Furniture’s employees went on strike when Hummer pressured them to fork out 1 percent of their wages for accident insurance policy. Hummer didn’t flinch — even although he was operating for mayor as a Democrat.
He fired the alleged agitator and, in an open letter to the Ottawa County Moments, criticized labor organizations. However, he managed to defeat Edward Harrington. While his action may possibly have offended professional-labor voters, it may possibly have pacified pro-enterprise and regulation-and-buy voters — many of whom considered strikes had been both equally unlawful and anti-Christian.
In 1894, Hummer retained the mayor’s chair by defeating Isaac Cappon. In 1896, fireplace destroyed West Michigan Home furnishings. Hummer had it rebuilt.
In 1898, Hummer produced significant enterprise transactions. The West Michigan Home furniture Organization purchased the West Michigan Seating Company, increasing its overall employment to above 600 folks.
Then, Hummer divested his curiosity in the Holland and Chicago Transportation Firm to spend in the Interurban. He also assisted sort the Holland Sugar Enterprise.
In 1900, George and Maggie Hummer moved to Grand Rapids.
In 1904, the West Michigan Home furniture Business acquired a managing desire in the Engel Lumber and Land Organization in Louisiana. In 1905, Hummer turned one particular of the founding investors in Peoples Point out Lender.
Concerning 1910 and 1920, Hummer correctly included Henry Ford’s assembly-line techniques into his factory. He also put in his son-in-law, Charles Kirchen, spouse of his daughter, Maggie, as president.
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Then, in 1920, he once more agitated staff when he reduced their wages by 10 cents an hour, telling them that other organizations in Holland would shortly be carrying out the exact same. That very same yr, Hummer died from injuries sustained in an auto incident near his dwelling in Grand Rapids.
Immediately after his dying, Kirchen, who was also president of People’s Point out Bank, grew to become the sole owner of West Michigan Home furnishings. By that time, the enterprise was specializing in phonograph cabinets and mahogany beds for significant-stop motels. During the Planet War II decades, it built bunk beds. In the 1950s to 1970s, it created beds for colleges, hospitals and motel chains.
In 1976, the Padnos Iron and Metal Organization acquired West Michigan Home furnishings. 4 several years afterwards, the Mueller Home furnishings Business purchased the West Michigan Home furniture business enterprise, and Padnos retained the assets.
Now, West Michigan Furniture’s initial office making even now stands on Eighth Avenue close to the foot of Maple Avenue.
Data from this story will come from Robert Swierenga’s “Holland, Michigan,” MI Gen World-wide-web and The Holland Metropolis News Archives.
— Steve VanderVeen is a resident of Holland. For a minimal time, get access to his history series at kickstarter.com/projects/holland-me/holland-and-me-the-sequence.
This post originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Holland History: George Hummer and West Michigan Furnishings