- Parker helped to write
- In the last couple of years, some observers
of business in Wisconsin have said that
- The PARKER Pen Co.'s name actually
is a misnomer because the company now realizes most of its revenues
and profits from Manpower Inc., the world's leading provider
of temporary services.
- The writing instrument side of PARKER
Pen's business has been hurting for
- several years, and selling the Writing
Instrument Group reportedly is one of the alternatives the company
is considering as it weighs possible cures for the ills of slumping
- Furthermore, the current president
and chief executive officer of PARKER Pen,
- Mitchell FROMSTEIN, came to
the company as president of Manpower, which had been newly acquired
- But the history of the pen company
and its many, innovative products has been
- entwined with Janesville's for almost
100 of the city's 150 years. And the company remains the leading
producer of "quality writing instruments" in most of
its many markets worldwide.
- In 1888, George S. PARKER taught
telegraphy in Janesville and sold John Holland
- pens to his students as a sideline.
He felt obligated to repair faulty pens. "This necessitated
my purchasing some simple tools, including a small scroll saw,
a lathe, cutter, etc.," he wrote several years before his
death in 1937.
became dismayed with the unreliability of the pens he sold. "With
- scroll saw, file and other tools, I
made up a feeder, eventually fitted it into a holder, and lo
and behold, it worked. What's more it worked well," PARKER
- Thus was born the first PARKER
pen, and a new chapter in Janesville history
- started to be written.
- The next year, he took out his first
pen patent and became a manufacturer. He had
- no sales force and lacked working capital,
but PARKER took advantage of Janesville's being a center
for regional travels. One of the city's many hotels was a gathering
place for traveling salesmen, and PARKER persuaded them
to carry his pens as a sideline.
- It was in 1892 that a local insurance
man tried to convince PARKER to cover
- himself and his business, but PARKER
begged off, saying he couldn't afford the policies. But the insurance
man, W. F. PALMER, took an interest in the business, which
badly needed capital.
- "Not a lot of capital was necessary
in the early days of the company," PARKER
- wrote. "I sold half an interest
in my patents and the little business for $1,000 to Mr. PALMER,
but he made the check out to The PARKER Pen Co. And so,
this $1,000 was used in the development of the business instead
of for me personally."
- They incorporated the company in 1892.
PARKER handled sales and advertising;
looked after finances and helped manage the company.
- For a few years, the business was located
in small quarters in what was known as
- the Opera House Block, but in 1898,
it bought a four-story double building on South Main
- Street and used the upper three floors
to make fountain pens and inks. In 1908, it was reported the
largest pen factory in the world, making $250,000 worth of pens
- In 1894, PARKER patented the
"Lucky Curve," which gave the young company a
- straight route to leadership in the
pen business and made Janesville known across the country as
its home. The pen drained the ink back into its reservoir when
carried upright in the user's pocket. It was the company's principal
product up until the 1920s.
- A 1908 history of Rock County reads
in part: "The success of the PARKER Pen
- Company has naturally caused other
manufacturers of fountain pens to locate in Janesville, the next
largest being the WILLIAMSON Pen Company, who have a factory
in the Corn Exchange block; and besides this there are the Century
Pen Company, H. B. SMITH Pen Company, the BURDICK
Pen Company and the SCRITCHFIELD Pen Company."
- In 1903, the company established the
first of what would become more than 100
- overseas distributors. The first was
- During World War I, the company introduced
the "Trench Pen" for use on European
- battlefields. A soldier would make
the ink in the pen's cap by mixing a pill with water.
- In 1918, the company's sales reached
$1 million for the first time. Last fiscal year,
- writing instrument sales topped $142
million, and revenue from Manpower added more than $700 million
to the company's balance sheet.
- The next year, PARKER Pen began
constructing a five-story building at [the]
- corner of Court Street and what became
PARKER Drive to house manufacturing and administrative
functions. Later a three-story clubhouse for employees was built.
- The company renovated and expanded
the bigger building in 1981-83 to house its
- worldwide headquarters. It demolished
the smaller building after an offer to sell it for $1 to anyone
who would move it found no takers.
- The company moved manufacturing to
its modern Arrow Park facility in 1953, and
- in 1983-84 it renovated that plant
with state-of-the-art automation and computers. Arrow Park provides
jobs for more than 400 people on three shifts.
- In 1923, PARKER Pen opened its
first foreign manufacturing plant in Toronto,
- Canada, and the next year it established
a subsidiary in England. As part of the company's restructuring
of the past few years, many of the foreign plants were closed.
New Haven, England, and Arrow Park remain as the company's two
main manufacturing and distribution facilities.
- At a facility in Meru, France, craftsmen
manufacture by hand the pens in PARKER's
- Premier Collection, which sell from
$95 to $2,500.
- But the most popular pen the company
ever made remains the Jotter, which was its
- entry into the ballpoint pen market
in 1954. More than 400 million Jotters have been sold throughout
- [Source: The
Janesville Gazette, August 14, 1985, p. 1G, 3G; Courtesy of
- In 1908, PARKER Pen Co. was
one of the top 15 companies in Janesville.
- For further information, I recommend
Parker Pen Company's Story" from
Jim's Fountain Pen Site.