Windsor White - President White Motor Company

9432 and 8907 Lake Shore Boulevard
Windsor Thomas White
Windsor Thomas White

Delia Bulkley Holden, the oldest daughter of Liberty and Delia Holden, was born on January 31, 1871. She married Windsor Thomas White on September 14, 1892. They had three children: Delia Bulkley (Vail) born on November 9, 1898, Thomas H. born on August 4, 1894, and Windsor Thomas, born on July 18, 1905.

Windsor Thomas White was born on August 28, 1866, in Orange, Massachusetts, to Thomas and Almira White. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Windsor’s father, Thomas H. White, had invented a small, hand-operated, single-thread type sewing machine in 1857. The White Sewing Machine Corporation was incorporated in 1876 for the manufacture of sewing machines under Thomas White’s patent by Thomas White, Rollin White, George Baker, Henry White, and D'Arcy Porter.

In 1880, White Sewing Machine employed from 500 to 600 persons, paying an average salary of $75 per month. As an indication of the volume of business done, the company, in a period running from July 1876 to 1877, manufactured from 150 to 200 machines daily. The officers in that period were Thomas White, president, Rollin C. White, vice-president, S. H. Henderson, secretary, Henry W. White, treasurer, and D'Arcy Porter, superintendent.

Thomas insisted that Windsor, along with his two brothers Rollin and Walter, worked in the company side by side with the men who ran the production equipment.  Later the officers included Thomas White, president, Windsor White, vice-president, Walter White, second vice-president, William Chase, secretary, F. M. Sanderson, treasurer, C. H. Porter, assistant treasurer, W. Grothe, superintendent of the sewing machine factory, and Rollin White, superintendent of the automobile factory.

Windsor’s brother, Rollin, invented the auto flash boiler in 1899, and with the aid of his two brothers, diversified their father’s sewing machine company's products by introducing the first White Steamer automobile in 1900. Their father dismissed the importance of the automobile. That led his sons to organize the White Motor Car Co. in 1906 with Windsor as president while brothers Rollin and Walter operated the plant. In 1909, the company made its first vehicle under its name.

When World War I broke out, the French Government promptly ordered 600 White trucks, and many orders for the Allies followed. The United States Army adopted the two-ton White truck as standard, and the French Government awarded Croix de Guerre to the White-truck fleet for its service. There were 18,000 of these trucks in the armies of the United States and allied powers, and in 1918, the United States Government took the entire production.

During World War I, the company shifted to trucks and stayed with the product after the war, becoming the number one maker of trucks and custom vehicles.

The White brothers added to their father’s philosophy on how to operate the company. They encouraged employee musicians to perform at lunchtime. Even the second and third shifts had their bands. Company sports teams, baseball, in particular, were used to build company pride. The company operated a small hospital and a night school, offering a variety of classes. Employees could pay utility bills and even their taxes through the company cashier. Their industrial service department helped employees fill out forms when needed.

The Whites valued and respected their workforce. All three brothers spent several hours per day in the plant, getting to know the names of all employees. Lunch, on many occasions found the Whites in the employee cafeteria, not the executive dining room.

Should an employee become sick and no longer able to work in the plant, Walter White transferred the employee to a healthier environment at his Circle W. Farm. It just seemed like common sense to achieve great results and limited turnover from contented workers.

In addition to being president of White Motor Company, Windsor became president of White Sewing Machine Company in 1921, serving until 1923. He was also president of Park Drop Forge Company, a director of the First National Bank. Social memberships included The Country, Roadside, Tavern, and Union Clubs plus the Engineer Club of New York. He was instrumental in developing the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club.

Delia died on May 15, 1947. Windsor suffered a stroke in late February 1958 and died on April 9, 1958, while visiting his brother, Rollin, in Hobe Sound, Florida. Both he and Delia were buried in Lakeview Cemetery.