John H. Patterson spent his youth on the family farm just south of Dayton, Ohio (population 10,000) selling his father's farm products. Sometimes the charges were unrecorded and Patterson later recalled, "I was often awakened at night by my father asking me if I had charged a certain person with the things he had taken home". Or,"I would be eating my dinner and some person would say 'Did you charge that sugar to Sonders?' I had to say, 'No, I did not'".
When John H. and his brother Frank established a successful business selling coal and miner's supplies in the 1870s unrecorded sales were again a problem. After reading a description of the cash register designed by Jam
es Ritty and sold by the National Manufacturing Company in Dayton, John ordered two, sight unseen. In six months they reduced his debt from $16,000 to $3,000 and the books showed a profit of $5,000. These modern machines had solved the old problems of disorganization and dishonesty. Patterson "was so impressed that he bought the company" for $6,500 and promptly changed the name
to The National Cash Register Company. The Pattersons, however, had not done their homework and when they found that the company had be
en losing money they offered $2,000 to get out of the deal. The seller said "You purchased the stock. If you had paid for it and I had turned it over to you, I would not have it back as a gift."
Patterson trained an impressive number of executives in his business methods and philosophies. When these executives left the company or, as happened more frequently, were fired, their
dropped in on agents giving them a command quiz on the 16-page primer. He fired those who refused to learn it or who failed to commit it to memory before his visit.
In 1893 the NCR Hall of Industrial Education was opened to teach agents "the best ways of helping merchants make money". This is the first known formal sales training school.
One of the most famous photos in any history of NCR is this one depicting a young woman worker at the Dayton plant who J.H. observed heating her luncheon coffee on a factory radiator. This incident set the stage for all his social welfare programs thereafter.
A complete hot lunch was offered to all female employees but it was refused as the ladies would not accept "charity". The solution? Charge five cents.
A dining room for 400 women was built in 1895. The sick list dropped from 18 percent to 2 percent in one week.
In-plant healthcare, company sponsored vacation trips, children's programs, and even an employee country club were only a few of Patterson's employee benefits. Other industrialists accused him of coddling his workers. Patterson believed this paternalistic treatment of his workers, especially the the Victorian era ladies, was not only the right thing to do but was also good for business.
The first "daylight factory" buildings were built in 1893 with floor to ceiling glass windows that could be opened to let in fresh air, as well as light. They also had ventilation hoods to absorb dust, first-class baths, locker rooms, and restrooms for the ladies, hospitals and first-aid stations, and gymnasiums. The grounds had spacious lawns and landscaping with colorful plantings and this was during the time when "sweatshops" were still in operation elsewhere.
In the 1890s autographic suggestion machines were used to capture employee thoughts about improvements. Signs and posters with Patterson slogans were displayed at locations worldwide.
Sales agents were grateful for their protected territories, but not the quota system devised by Patterson during this period.
training went with them. In the period 1910-1930 an estimated one-sixth of the top executives in the nation's companies were former NCR executives.
The first factory buiding was constructed on the Patterson farm in 1888 and in the same year he made one of his "flying trips" by train to visit with agents in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, Trenton, Wilmington, New York City, Scranton, Elmira, Buffalo, and Cleveland. At this time there were already more than 1,000 employees. NCR sales agents were required to memorize a 450-word primer based on the successful sales presentations of Joseph H. Crane, John Patterson's brother-in-law. Patterson
Patterson was using every conceivable means to display his products to the public. To support the sales agents' work the company produced Output, a broadside which listed sales,
discussed the benefits of the cash register and printed testimonials from satisfied users. By 1888 135,000 copies were being mailed.
It was replaced by The Hustler series with tailored versions such as Store Hustler and Saloon Hustler. These circulars contained a reply card for readers to request further information.
By 1894 a half million Hustlers and other circulars were mailed and an extra man was added to the Dayton post office just to handle the company mailings.
In order to get the word out to employees Patterson created another publication.The Factory News bowed in 1891 as the first "house organ".The sales convention, later to be called the CPC or Century Point Club(for sales agents who met their sales quota) has been one of the company's most important annual events since 1887.
Patterson exhorted his agents to pay the rail or steamship fare and take time out from selling: "We can assure you that all who will attend, that they will be fitted to sell twice as many register as heretofore."
John Patterson took a dim view of any competition in the cash register business he created, whether it be new registers from other manufacturers or his own equipment sold as used.