This is a rare example of how principle,business and investing can work. It is the secret behind Warren Buffet and some of the top Hedge Fund Managers. It is not about the money Warren Buffett quoted in speech to his company before others could speak his words. John D. Rockefeller was one of the best examples of this:
John Davison Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was an American business magnate and philanthropist. He was a co-founder of theStandard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry, and along with other key contemporary industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie, defined the structure of modern philanthropy. In 1870, he co-founded Standard Oil Company and aggressively ran it until he officially retired in 1897.
In spite of his father’s absences and frequent family moves, young John was a well-behaved, serious, and studious boy. His contemporaries described him as reserved, earnest, religious, methodical, and discreet. He was an excellent debater and expressed himself precisely. He also had a deep love of music and dreamed of it as a possible career.Early on, he displayed an excellent mind for numbers and detailed accounting.
His father, William Avery Rockefeller, was a “pitch man” — a “doctor” who claimed he could cure cancers and charged up to $25 a treatment. He was gone for months at a time traveling around the West from town to town and would return to wherever the family was living with substantial sums of cash. His mother, Eliza Davison Rockefeller, was very religious and very disciplined. She taught John to work, to save, and to give to charities.
By the age of 12, he had saved over $50 from working for neighbors and raising some turkeys for his mother. At the urging of his mother, he loaned a local farmer $50 at 7% interest payable in one year. When the farmer paid him back with interest the next year Rockefeller was impressed and said of it in 1904: “The impression was gaining ground with me that it was a good thing to let the money be my servant and not make myself a slave to the money…”
From 1852 Rockefeller attended Owego Academy in Owego, New York, where the family had moved in 1851. Rockefeller excelled at mental arithmetic and was able to solve difficult arithmetic problems in his head — a talent that would be very useful to him throughout his business career. In other subjects Rockefeller was an average student but the quality of the education was very high.
In 1853, the Rockefellers moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and John attended high school from 1853 to 1855. He was very good at math and was on the debating team. The school encouraged public speaking and even though Rockefeller was only average, it was a skill that would prove to useful to him.
It was the logic of this competitive structure that determined Rockefeller and Flagler’s course of action.
- They built high-quality, larger, better-planned refineries. They built permanent facilities using the best materials available.
- They owned their own cooperage (barrel making) plant, their own white-oak timber and drying facilities, and bought their own hoop iron. Consequently, they cut the cost of a barrel from about $3.00 to less than $1.50.
- They manufactured their own sulfuric acid (which was used in the purification process) and devised technology to recover it for re-use.
- They owned their own drayage service, consisting of at least 20 wagons in 1868.
- They owned their own warehouses in New York City and their own boats on the Hudson and East Rivers to transport their oil.
- They were the first to ship oil via tank cars (albeit big wooden tubs mounted in pairs on flat cars — later to evolve into the modern form of a tank car). And they owned their own fleet of tank cars.
- They built huge holding tanks near their refineries for storing crude and refined oil, with the equipment for drawing off the oil from the tank cars into the holding tanks.
- Their huge size made it economical to build the necessary physical plant to handle all the “waste” products from the refining of kerosene. They began manufacturing high quality lubricating oil that quickly replaced lard oil as a lubricant for machinery. Gasoline, which many refiners surreptitiously dumped into the Cuyahoga River at night (the river often caught fire), Rockefeller and Flagler used as fuel. They manufactured benzene (used as a cleaning fluid; a solvent for fat, gums, and resin; and to make varnish), paraffin (insoluble in water, used for making candles, waterproofing paper, preservative coatings, etc.), and petrolatum (used as a basis for ointments and as a protective dressing; as a local application in inflammation of mucous membrane; as an intestinal lubricant, etc. — white petrolatum later marketed under the brand name Vaseline). They shipped naphtha (volatile inflammable liquid used as a solvent in dry cleaning and in wax preparations, varnish and paint making, burning fluid for illumination, and as a fuel for motors) to gas plants and other users.