Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Introduction 1945 -1948

Introduction 1945 -1948

This is an introduction to a story about our family business.  I have not been actively involved in The Leiser’s Rental in Bethlehem since I purchased the Forks Township Store in 1995; however I have a financial investment in the Business’s success.  The reason I decided to take on this project is that the business is on very shaky ground.  The current management is the older of my two Sisters and one of her Sons.  Nether of them have any understanding of the business’s history.  Without the knowledge contained in this story they can’t save it.  They have ignored my help and continue to blame everyone else including me for the state of the business .  

The story was not written on how to be a success business.  There are plenty of good business books in the Library on that topic.  It is an interesting story that follows a very successful business my Father never planned on starting.   

This is a History of the Leiser Family Business.  The business my Father started in 1948 entered its 6th decade in 2008 without its Founder.  In my Father’s estate planning, my Father provided my Mother with a steady income that would allow her to afford a comfortable life.  He set up a foundation to take care of his hunting trophies, and restored a one room School House he owned.  My Father enrolled his Farm in a farmland preservation program, and my Father was very generous to his favorite charities.  As his health failed everything seemed to be in order however my Father would leave his business without a succession plan.

 Why? 

The obvious answer would be that my Father never expected the business to survive his involvement.  Some of his letters in the last years of his life would allude to this.  To the best of my ability I will draw the Map that will take my Father’s business from Dawn until Dusk.  The Map that I draw will show it was not all smooth sailing.  Along the road to any successful business there will be potholes, and dead ends, my Father’s business is no exception.    

This is a story of the business would start with my Father collecting bricks for the foundation long before the agreed to 1948 starting date.  During World War II my Father was training to be a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps.  When the war ended my Father would pursue his life love of flying.  Using the GI Bill to attended Spartan School of Aeronautics my Father would complete a course in Airport management.  He would then return home to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and search for a job.

There were not many jobs available in the Bethlehem area.  Local industries were still retooling from War production while trying to absorb the thousands of newly discharged solders.  My Father would take on some part time jobs. He would work for my Grandfather at the estate of a Bethlehem Steel executive.  For a time my Farther worked nights as a bartender and during the day he operated a handyman service.  My Grandfather was a nurseryman by trade; this background would set a direction for the handyman business. 
  
My Father purchased a used Rototiller and a surplus Jeep; he offered a custom tilling service.  In other words if you wanted a garden dug, you would hire my Father to dig it with his tilling machine.  My Father would also cut lawns and purchased a chain saw to cut trees.  With the chain saw he saw an opportunity to sell chain saws to farmers and contractors in the area.  My Father would spend the winter traveling the roads of the Lehigh Valley demonstrating the chain saw to farmers.  He had an innovative product; unfortunately as hard as he worked my father would sell only a few chain saws in those early years.  Most farmers could not justify the amount of labor saved compared to the cost of the saw.  The farmers were amazed by the speed but would confess to my Father that they had all winter to cut wood with a hand saw.  

The chain saw; the power chain saw had been developed in the early 1900’s it was a heavy expensive machine.  Even the lightest chain saw needed 2 strong men to operate. Wartime advancements in the production of aluminum castings would make the chain saw lighter cheaper and portable.  The first brand we sold was Mall, over the years we have sold and rented most major brands of chain saws.

The postwar chainsaw was an innovative product; however it was not a product that the business could be built around.  My Father never intended to open a retail store so the chain saw was just a product that would enhance his handyman business. 

My Father still envisioned finding a career in aviation; however with no aviation jobs available he would pursue his lifelong love of aviation as a hobby.  My Father was active in the Civil Air Patrol and a local Pilots Club.  He would be involved in flying all his life however aviation would always remain a hobby as he would grow his business.

Another business opportunity that would present itself to my Father was home building.  One of his friends convinced him to by a huge Army surplus Glider.  With the wooden crates and the wood recovered from the glider my Father would salvage enough lumber to build himself a house.  Few years later he would marry and build a second house, and then a third house.  These three houses still stand in the rear of my Grandfathers property. 

My Father would touch other business opportunities however the steady income from the handyman business would occupy his days. 

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