Montgomery Ward & Co. had a sturdy growth after its beginning in 1872. But it was in dire straits in 1931 when Sewell Avery came tor escue it from the depression. With no experience in the mail order business, but a good reputation earned in the gypsum industry, the new board chairman shook up an inefficient management and within three years converted an $8 million annual loss to a $10 million annual profit.

When World War II, ended Avery expected a depression and started squirreling away profits for use when a dollar might buy more. His program built a $327 million nest egg in U.S. bonds and hard cash, but also gave his company a sales increase of 36%.

In the image above you can see the vast headquarters that stretches for half a mile along Chicago River. By 1955 the company had department stores, mail order units, offices and warehouses in 900 towns.

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