Mr. Fairless recently retired as Chairman of the Board, United States Steel Company. This is extracted from an address, October 18, 1951.
Ever since the day it was started, the National Radiator Company has always competed against companies much larger than itself; and now that it has branched out into new fields, it has challenged some of the biggest enterprises in our country.
Some years ago, in fact, it started to produce a condensing unit that put it squarely into competition with all the big steel companies in the United States—including my own company, United States Steel. If it could sell these units successfully, it would take away our market for thousands of tons of steel pipe. Well, it did sell them. It even had the brass to try to sell some of them to us for use in our plants. And what do you think happened? We bought them!
We bought them because they were better than the old, steel-pipe equipment that we had been manufacturing and using. A lot of other steel companies bought them also. And that’s how National Radiator took from us the only customer in the world that we could have prevented it from getting—United States Steel, itself.
Does that surprise you? Well, it shouldn’t, for it happens all the time. Some of America’s biggest companies, which used to manufacture their own iron powder, have gone out of that branch of the business completely. They buy it now from National Radiator because they can get it cheaper, or better, or more conveniently.
And that’s how it always is in America. The customer wants nothing but the best—the best product at the best prices—and the customer is King. He alone determines which companies shall be big or small; and which shall live or die. He is the jury and the judge and the court of last appeal; and all the Calamity Johns in the world cannot alter his decision.
Ladies and gentlemen, to my way of thinking, that is the most significant aspect of these ceremonies here today. The National Radiator Company has succeeded because it has served its customers; and since its customers are the public, it has served the public interest. This great new sheet-metal plant is the symbol of that public service.