It has been said that I forced the men who became my partners in the oil business to join with me. I would not have been so short-sighted. If it were true that I followed such tactics, I ask, would it have been possible to make of such men life-long companions? Would they accept, and remain for many years in positions of the greatest trust, and finally, could any one have formed of such men, if they had been so browbeaten, a group which has for all these years worked in loyal harmony, with fair dealing among themselves as well as with others, building up efficiency and acting in entire unity? This powerful organization has not only lasted but its efficiency has increased. For fourteen years I have been out of business, and in eight or ten years went only once to the company’s office.
In the summer of 1907 I visited again the room at the top of the Standard Oil Company’s building, where the officers of the company and the heads of departments have had their luncheon served for many years. I was surprised to find so many men who had come to the front since my last visit years ago. Afterward I had an opportunity to talk with old associates and many new ones, and it was a source of great gratification to me to find that the same spirit of cooeperation and harmony existed unchanged. This practice of lunching together, a hundred or more at long tables in most intimate and friendly association, is another indication of what I contend, slight as it may seem to be at first thought. Would these people seek each other’s companionship day after day if they had been forced into this relation? People in such a position do not go on for long in a pleasant and congenial intimacy.
For years the Standard Oil Company has developed step by step, and I am convinced that it has done well its work of supplying to the people the products from petroleum at prices which have decreased as the efficiency of the business has been built up. It gradually extended its services first to the large centres, and then to towns, and now to the smallest places, going to the homes of its customers, delivering the oil to suit the convenience of the actual users. This same system is being followed out in various parts of the world. The company has, for example, three thousand tank wagons supplying American oil to towns and even small hamlets in Europe. Its own depots and employees deliver it in a somewhat similar way in Japan, China, India, and the chief countries of the world. Do you think this trade has been developed by anything but hard work?
This plan of selling our products direct to the consumer and the exceptionally rapid growth of the business bred a certain antagonism which I suppose could not have been avoided, but this same idea of dealing with the consumer directly has been followed by others and in many lines of trade, without creating, so far as I recall, any serious opposition.