The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 24.


Valparaiso Man Had An Idea and Put It Over In Spite of Depression Odds

Porter county has one businessman who launched a new and original venture during the 1930-1935 depression, and made a success of it.

Such, in brief, is the remarkable achievement of Cecil J. Spindler, age 38, and a life-long resident of Valparaiso, who in addition, has the unusual distinction of having given one of the world's greatest merchandising organizations a new merchandising and operating place -- and then proving that it was a good one.

As a result, Valparaiso, today, is headquarters for the one and only exclusive "selling representative" of the great Chicago merchandising institution known as Sears Roebuck and Company -- and this "selling representative" is the Spindler Company, Inc.

It was back in 1930 when Mr. Spindler conceived the idea that if he could find a way to give farmers of the community a chance to buy standard quality farming equipment, at more reasonable prices, coupled with personal service, he would have hit upon a good business proposition. Thinking on the idea, it came to him that a connection with the firm of Sears, Roebuck and Company, known to farmers everywhere, would be the key to the success of his plan.

All Mr. Spindler had was the idea, a lot of enthusiasm, a winning personality, and some five years of business experience with his father-in-law, Mark Palmer, then the Ford dealer of Valparaiso. In this connection Mr. Spindler had contacted farmers promoting the sale of tractors and other farm implements.

Finally, after five months of effort and negotiation by which he contacted officials of Sears, Roebuck and Company daily, he was given the change to try out his merchandising idea.

One of the reasons why Mr. Spindler had so much difficulty convincing Sears, Roebuck officials that he could make a success of his plan, was the fact that they felt Valparaiso to be too small a city to sell enough merchandise at Sears, Roebuck prices to pay expenses. However, Spindler agreed to take all the risk and to sell Sears, Roebuck merchandise exclusively, and at Sears, Roebuck's regular retail store prices and terms.

So it was that Mr. Spindler was finally ready to put his idea to a test. He chose a hard time to do it, the depression year of 1931. His store was located on the first floor of the Odd Fellows' building at 162 Lincolnway. Proudly he hung up the sign-board reading: "C. J. Spindler, Selling Representative, Sears, Roebuck and Company.

The first merchandise to arrive consisted of Sears, Roebuck and Company produced David Bradley farm implements. Mr. Spindler had an old truck and one employe to start with -- these and a lot of downright nerve, little more. It was tough going. Anyone less determined would have given up in despair.

At the end of his first year Mr. Spindler had but little to show for his hard plugging, but more important than anything else, he had convinced the Sears, Roebuck and Company organization that his idea had merit.

So it was that with the coming of 1932 -- the depression sinking in deeper than ever -- Mr. Spindler, with the backing of his great Chicago co-partner, met adverse conditions by pressing harder than ever. He broadened his base of operations, taking on other lines of Sears, Roebuck merchandise.

Shortly the Spindler store was handling auto tires, motor oils, auto batteries, and other items, including paints. The "selling representative" establishment at 162 Lincolnway was doing business. Mr. Spindler's daring in defying the depression, was bringing results.

So it was that the year 1933, the very bottom of the business pit, brought him added recognition from Sears, Roebuck. It came in the form of higher store rating, his establishment being placed on the Sears, Roebuck Class B store. This means a complete hardware store, and something more, for lines of electric refrigerators, radios, auto supplies, washing machines, plumbing and heating equipment were included.

Keeping pace with this advancement the Spindler Company had begun a program of transforming its store quarters that was not to end until it met all demands as an attractive, efficient salesroom.

In further recognition of the success of the Spindler venture, the Sears Roebuck organization cooperated in establishing units of the Spindler Company at Rensselaer and Lowell, handling farm implements. Both stores were immediate successes and in the fall of 1933 and the spring of 1934, they followed the lead set by the Valparaiso store, and won Class B ranking, becoming full fledged hardware and general household supply stores. Mr. Spindler perfected his fast growing organization during 1934 and made ready for still greater expansion.

So it was that in August, 1935, the Spindler Company opened a large store at Warsaw. This establishment has been rated by the Sears Roebuck organization as one of the best equipped "B" stores in its entire national chain.

This year -- 1936 -- Mr. Spindler once more extended operations by obtaining the White Ford Garage block, directly opposite his main store. The first floor has been converted into a splendid large display room for farm equipment and supplies. The east end of the second floor has been transformed into spacious, attractive general offices.

At the same time, Mr. Spindler has pushed the scope of his operations to include a full Class B store at Knox and he shortly will open another store of the same type, in Kentland.

This means that the Spindler Company now has six retail stores in operations with Valparaiso, Lowell, Rensselaer, Kentland, Warsaw and Knox, as bases.

The Spindler Company now employs some 125 men and women, its monthly payroll in Valparaiso alone running between $2,500 and $3,000.

Still another development of this year has been the organization by Mr. Spindler, of the Northern Indiana Farm Machinery Company, which has distribution for the line of Avery Power Machinery -- threshers and combines -- and other heavy farm implements, in the north thirty-one counties of Indiana.

Associated with Mr. Spindler in Valparaiso, is John H. Stanbaugh, who for thirty-five years was in charge of Sears Roebuck farm equipment business. Young Mr. Stanbaugh has been connected with the national display and advertising department at Sears Roebuck and has served as assistant manager of the Sears Roebuck retail store at Wausau, Wis.

So it is that Mr. Spindler had a big idea, was able to sell it to a great merchandising company, and then went to work to prove his idea meant profit for himself, Sears Roebuck, and thousands of Indiana patrons.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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