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History Lessons – extended warranties & coping with downtimes 100 years ago

White Motor Cars offered an 100,000 Mile Warranty!
White Motor Cars offered an 100,000 Mile Warranty!

All too often, we neglect the important lessons of history as it applies to the solving of some of today’s problems. For example; I have been writing about the extremely successful White Motor Company of Cleveland, Ohio, examining their early history and how they solved problems of the time, 1900 to 1929 in a totally upstart industry.

During these years, car manufacturing was in its infantsy and thus all items giving into a car trial and error. In spite of this, the brothers White, Windsor, Rollin and Walter insisted on perfection. They expected each of their vehicles perform well for a minimum of 100,000 miles back in 1915. General Motors did a whole ad campaign touting their 100,000 mile guarantee as a dramatic break through. How could the Whites be almost 100 years ahead of General Motors?

To get top quality the Whites believed in a labor force of impeccable dedication and work ethic. It was not unusual to have up to 4 generations of one family work at White, non union. This allowed the White employee to pass down father to son work ethic based upon family pride and excellence. The Whites for their part participated by systematically rotating a new employee until the job fit the employee both from an aptitude and what the employee took satisfaction in. The Whites felt that their best advertisement was their customer and his satisfaction with the product. Building with a highly skilled and motivated work force, taking pride in all aspects of their work assured the owner of a White that they received maximum value for every dollar spent. Jay Leno, Talk show host, has a White in his famous collection and often times speaks about this tremendous vehicle.

GM and the entire auto industry today could learn from the White Motors way of doing business. The Whites were also very conservative as businesses, and felt strongly about having large cash reserves in case of a long down time. What a novel idea here.

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