King Gillette the founder of Gillette was a good man for South Boston. He set up his factory on its eastern edge and gave many of the people who lived in Southie jobs. I believe my aunt Mary worked there. If I’m wrong others in my family will chastise me for saying that.
Mary got a job because even though King was a Yankee, whose ancestors came to Boston in the same year when the city was founded, 1630, he was not the type of Yankee that had the “no Irish need apply” mentality. He hired many Irish who lived in South Boston. I suppose I should not be using Mary as an example because she was Lithuanian but she did marry an Irishman.
If King were around today, by the way that’s a pretty cool name for a boy, there’s little doubt who he would be supporting for president. It would be Bernie Sanders. King was, like Bernie the Dodger, a Socialist. You may think I call Bernie a Dodger because he was born in Brooklyn during the time the Brooklyn Dodgers were playing there and he was a big fan of them as a kid. Not so. I’m referring to his ducking the draft.
It is reported that King was a Utopian Socialist.He “fiercely rejected the corrosive effect of capitalist competition on society, claiming it led to a general loosening of the social fabric or ‘social drift’.” https://planomenology.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/utopian-schemes-king-gillette-and-frederick-engels/ He advocated a single corporation that would manage all of society. Its headquarters would be near Niagra Falls. He drew up plans showing the type of living quarters he would construct. A typical living space would have four bedrooms with each one having a 15’ by 20’ sitting room along with a library, parlor and music room which would be adjacent to an outside veranda. His design did not include a kitchen or eating area. Perhaps, in the utopian future his people would not have to eat.
Once King lost control of the company that bore his name the new people who took over were not so interested in a utopian future. They were concerned with a present profit.
Boston Magazine did an article a couple of years ago telling us why razor blades are so bloody expensive. http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2013/08/09/why-are-razors-so-expensive/ As I understand the article the Gillette Company has “150 scientists with PhDs in topics like physics, materials science, and engineering in Reading, UK,” who are watching people shave every day. The article’s author tells us that people with PhDs “don’t work cheap.” Imagine going through the vigors of earning a PhD and then spending the day watching people shave. I wonder what the suicide rate is in Reading, England?
One thing reading about this subject that surprised me was that those who followed King Gillette in his company did not have his genius. They were not so good at inventing but at copying. And then, only when it became absolutely necessary. Gillette’s secret at making money was to give away the blade free, some say King invented the Freebie, but charged for the individual blades.(Polaroid with its camera and special film followed this plan.) Up until the 1960s razor blades were made of carbon steel. Anyone who used a Gillette Blue Blade knew you could get one good shave from it and then you’d have to put in a new one. The idea was to have the blade give only one good shave.
What I found surprising was that Gillette was not a company that invented anything like its founder, it copied others. It +had to make a better blade after Wilkinson Sword began selling blades made of stainless steel. It copied them when its market started to crumble. Wilkinson invented its “Bonded Shaving System” a cartridge razor system which is what most use today and it copied them. BIC created the disposable razor and it copied them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_razor
In copying them Gillette did it one better. It is the razor to use today. It is, as advertised, “the best a man can get.”