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2009 FIN – Cameron: Before Computers You Just Searched the Warehouse

July 20
00:00 2009

2009 FIN – Cameron: Before Computers You Just Searched the Warehouse

Edith Cameron

Edith Cameron

In 1937 Edith Cameron began a summer job with Anti-Corrosive Metal Products Co. in Castleton, NY, for $12 per 5 1/2-day week.

By 1939 she was firmly established in the fastener industry as executive secretary to Anti-Corrosive president Edmund Bainbridge and the summer job became a 56-year career.

This fall Cameron reached her 90th birthday and highlighted some of the changes over the decades.

In an interview with she recalled making drawings of fasteners for customers by tracing original prints on onionskin paper held up to a window for light.

Early in her career there were no distributors and no outside salesmen or reps and all sales were to the end user and conducted by mail.

Cameron was among the later ones to accept importing of fasteners. “I was anti-importing,” she recalled. “Importing was horrible. We were one of the last to import.”

During World War II Cameron recalled there was no record of what was in stock or where in the warehouse it was located.

“You merely picked up the customer’s order and went searching. It was an excellent way to learn what the product looked like,” she explained in her 1993 NIFS Hall of Fame induction speech.

Cameron started her fastener career with a pioneer in the development of stainless wire and rod. Along with the Duriron Co. of Dayton, OH, Bainbridge, a metallurgist, came up with the correct melt for making Durimet T and Durimet L (later known as Carpenter 20SCB), Cameron recalled. Bainbridge developed Type 321 Stainless for the Manhattan Project.

With the approaching World War II, Cameron needed to learn government specifications for raw material and finished goods and worked with government inspectors “who frequented our plant.”

During World War II Anti-Corrosive operated seven days a week and the office staff assisted the shipping department. She set up a purchasing department with a 3×5 card system.

In 1943 Cameron worked briefly for the War Production Board and Controlled Materials Plan. CMP became known as “Confused Made Perfect” and Cameron noted that even by 2008 “nothing has changed in DC.”

After WWII, she spent many evenings at Anti-Corrosive calculating order cancellation charges as government and subcontractor changes “poured in to us,” through Western Union telegraphs delivered to us in cartons.

In 1956 Cameron left Anti-Corrosive with president Jerry Kapner to start Albany Products in Norwalk, CT. She was involved in purchasing and sales, secretarial duties and training those who later rose in the industry.

Mill supply houses, hardware stores and steel centers replaced the war customers. Albany started an outside sales force and hired its first outside sales woman, Laura Orbach of St. Louis. Wms. & Co. of Pittsburgh, and Service supply Co. of Indianapolis, became Albany distributors.

Cameron recalled that during WWII it was discovered that U.S. hardware was not compatible with Canadian and British sizes. The Industrial Fasteners Institute “undertook the vast project of working toward standardization” and in 1952 the American Standard B18.2 was adopted. “The cost for retooling was tremendous. We have subsequently had other changes in the ANSI Standards but nothing as dramatic as what happened in the fifties.”

After making sales calls on the West Coast in 1962 with San Francisco-based sales rep Everett Appleton, Cameron got Albany to add San Carlos, CA, and Dallas branches to its Boston and Chicago sites.

Prior to the fax machine, Albany had an AT&T 24-hour, open line communication network “that put us in instant contact with each warehouse location,” Cameron said.

Albany and Stillwater Associates were sold to Pneumo Corp. in 1968 and in 1979 both were acquired by Brester Industries, the parent of Bell Fasteners.

In 1980 Cameron joined Allied Stainless and worked until the company moved to Wisconsin. Then she worked from home for T.A.&D.A. Troy Co. until 1991 when she joined AllMetal. She retired in 1993.

Throughout her career Cameron never found being a woman to be a problem. Though she signed business letters “E.H. Cameron” so no one would know her gender, she “never found being a woman was rough. I had to perform and do a good job and I was accepted.”

Cameron is looking forward to next reaching age 95. “My mother lived to 97 and was sick only eight days.”


Related Links:

• Contact Edith Cameron

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