Grand Trunk Shop in Battle Creek, Michigan

While searching on Google Books for book titles on shop workers, I found an interesting book, “On the Clock,” and purchased it from a local independent bookstore. Its author cited another author, Fred Colvin, American Machinist editor, who wrote a 1947 autobiography, “60 Years with Men and Machines,” and with my wife’s MSU Community Library Card we were able to get it from MSU’s remote storage. Opening the book, “Grand Trunk Shop in Battle Creek, Michigan” caught my attention, having worked in the Battle Creek area and knowing the area’s locomotive history. I’ve decided to post this paragraph from Colvin’s book, along with a Grand Trunk Shop postcard I purchased in 2002 from an antique store. Mr. Colvin’s friend M. H. Westbrook’s managerial technique may also be of interest to forward-looking management.

Vern Mesler 2021

“I should like to mention the technique employed by my old friend M. H. Westbrook, who was in charge of the Grand Trunk Shop in Battle Creek, Michigan, for many years. Before buying a machine, he first sold the idea to the man or men in his shop who were to run it. He’d take the man to some other shop where a similar machine was in use, have him watch it in operation, and afterwards discuss its features with the operator. Then Westbrook would ask his man what he thought of the new machine, pointing out where it was superior to the present model and how it would save the operator a lot of extra work. This procedure always paved the way for a favorable reception of the new equipment when it arrived in the shop, where otherwise there might have been resentment or indifference. The Grand Trunk Shop was unusually efficient because of Westbrook’s forward-looking management, up-to-date equipment, safe working conditions, and neat and attractive layout.”

Fred H. Colvin, in his autobiography “60 Years with Men and Machines” (1947 pg. 101)

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