Chamblee54

Rotary Four Way Test

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on September 27, 2010






When PG was a kid, his grandmother lived in a side apartment, in a house on Virginia Avenue. The owner of the house was Mrs. Stuckey. ( PG never learned her “real” name, and assumed that checks were made out to Mrs.) There was a framed piece of paper in Mrs. Stuckey’s hall. The top said “The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do” , and featured the logo of the Rotary Club. The four rules were simple, on the surface.

Is it the TRUTH?//Is it FAIR to all Concerned?//Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?//Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

The four way test was written by Herbert J. Taylor. In 1932, Mr.Taylor took over the bankrupt Club Aluminum Company of Chicago. Trying to revive the company during the depression, Mr. Taylor wrote a code of ethics, that would be the basis for the company’s actions.

Many said that the four way test was not practical for the business world. The balancing of integrity and ambition can be daunting. It was said that
“This emphasis on truth, fairness and consideration provide a moral diet so rich that it gives some people “ethical indigestion.”
PG maintains that fair is a baseball hit between first and third base. Sometimes, the umpire makes the wrong call. In the “real world”, the different points of view in a dispute make rendering a fair judgment a difficult task, if not an impossible one.

There is a story about the revival of Club Aluminum.
” One day, the sales manager announced a possible order for 50,000 utensils. Sales were low and the company was still struggling at the bankruptcy level. The senior managers certainly needed and wanted that sale, but there was a hitch. The sales manager learned that the potential customer intended to sell the products at cut-rate prices. “That wouldn’t be fair to our regular dealers who have been advertising and promoting our product consistently,” he said. In one of the toughest decisions the company made that year, the order was turned down. There was no question this transaction would have made a mockery out of The Four-Way Test the company professed to live by.”
How did the sales manager learn of the intentions of this buyer? Was he tipped off by one of the “regular customers” who feared competition? Was this “regular customer” lying? Many inspirational stories leave out crucial details.

As it turns out, Club Aluminum did sell enough product to emerge from bankruptcy.
“By 1937, Club Aluminum’s indebtedness was paid off and during the next 15 years, the firm distributed more than $1 million in dividends to its stockholders. Its net worth climbed to more than $2 million.”
Club Aluminum cookware was cast, not spun. It is heavy, and is a prized collectors item today. As for the Club Aluminum company
” Standard International Corporation bought it in 1968. Regalware made and marketed Club Aluminum for a while, but went out of business in the mid-1980s. The brand name was eventually obtained by the Mirro Company.”
This is a repost. Philosophy and rules for living is always a crowd pleaser. Whether or not you  practice what you preach is beside the point. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

There is a story above. A company, facing bankruptcy, turned down a huge order because of concerns about how the product would be resold. Today, this seems quaint. Today, the moral thing to do would be to take the order, keep your factory busy, and not worry how it was going to be resold. While some pretend that moral rules are unchanging, the truth is that they do change with the times.

This reminds PG of a story from his days as a blueprinter. With ammonia developed prints, every print is fed by hand, and you have the option to adjust the speed of the machine. Slower prints mean less background, which to some is a higher quality print. ( This is not an issue with digital printing. Some change is indeed progress.)

The company PG worked for was affiliated with a small, family run company in a neighboring city. This company was run by an old fashioned lady, who insisted on adjusting every print to get the perfect background. This was different from the company PG worked for, which ran large jobs for the big city market. To his customers, quality meant getting an acceptable print, DELIVERED ON TIME. Who had the higher standards? Maybe that is a question for the customer to judge.




3 Responses

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  1. Four For Four Fore « Chamblee54 said, on January 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    […] is a double repost . These two features have been repeated  before , with text added. Whether the text adds value is a judgement question. For today’s […]

  2. Rules Of Four « Chamblee54 said, on October 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    […] is a double repost . These two features have been repeated before , with text added. Whether the text adds value is a judgement question. For today’s […]

  3. Four Way Rules | Chamblee54 said, on October 26, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    […] is a double repost . These two features have been repeated before , with text added. Whether the text adds value is a judgement question. For today’s […]


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