THE ADVENT OF MR. MORRIS.
A few particulars of the career of Britain’s premier motor manufacturer.
ALmosT totally eclipsing the achievements of any other business man of our own day, the meteoric rise of Mr. W. R. Morris of motor fame constitutes a veritable romance of courage, resource, and foresight. Beginning with a small garage business at the age of 21, built up from a still smaller cycle business, founded when he was only 16 years of age ; by .1913 Mr. Morris had produced a car—the original Morris-Oxford–of the exact size and performance for which a tremendous potential motoring public was looking. This at a time when the light car, as we understand it to-day, was only just beginning, and when, if we must say so, the majority of the representatives of the class were ramshackle, untrustworthy freaks. But the recent achievements of the Morris concern date from 1919, that hectic period of speculation and unstable currency when everybody in the trade—with almost the solitary exception of Mr. Morris—imagined that the motoring millennium had arrived. It was in this and the succeeding year, that the now ackowledged head of the motor industry displayed his genius. He recognised the false prosperity in which the country was living and the fact that an inevitable and disastrous reaction had to follow. Thus, when the bottom fell out of the market in 1920, his business was =affected and in the succeeding two years, when half the industry was in liquidation, the Morris concern began to forge ahead. Again the hours of careful thought and unstinted energy put into the design of the Morris began to tell. Here was a range of cars for which everybody had been waiting, and, as soon as times should mend, for which everyone would clamour. Output
increased and yet the demand still outstripped the supply.
Then, at the moment when the entire motor trade was contemplating to what extent prices could be raised, Mr. Morris threw a bombshell by rutting price very considerably, shaking the entire industry to its very foundations. We can all remember the Olympia Show, before which this price reduction took place, when on Monday morning, the opening day, not more than 10% of the exhibitors could tell you the price at which their cars were to be offered to the public.
Producing still more cars for an ever increasing motoring public by further organization of the, by this time, vast works, and the advantages accruing to buying materials in big quantities, a still further cut in price was possible, and for the first time in the history of the movement, a soundly constructed, reliable, economical, and in every way trustworthy car was offered to the British public at a price which put the American productions out of the running.
Since then, the concern has gone steadily ahead, extending its efficiency and embellishing its cars here and there, and ever increasing its output, until to-day, Morris cars may be regarded as the unit of motor car values.
Mr. Morris has recently come into prominence by the purchase of the Wolseley concern for £730,000. Rather than see foreign competitors take over this old established concern, he has put down this large sum of money, confident that his power for organization will pilot the company safely through its bad times. Further prominence has been given to his name by the acquisition of the Howbeach Colliery in the Forest of Dean, where one may rest assured that his imaginative reasoning and infinite capacity for mastering the minutest details may change coal production in this country, possibly setting the pace for the rest of the industry, just as he has done in motordom.
As with all far-seeing employers, Mr. Morris believes in making the welfare of his employees a fundamental consideration in the scheme of things. This, not by a too interfering Welfare Committee, but by paying good wages and offering sufficient hours of leisure. His contention is that with money in his pocket, and daylight hours at his disposal, any man will know where to find healthy recreation after his own fashion. This opinion, however, does not prevent the organization of a Welfare Committee, which, among industrial concerns, is positively second to none.
And, Mr. Morris has achieved his unparalleled success while still a young man, as one reckons youth these days.