Pioneering in Quality Glassware at Cambridge -- Part IV

by J. M. Hammer
Issue 30, Oct. 1975


When it was found that 750 workers were employed, the natural question was "What is your labor turnover?" The superintendent asked that the question be repeated.

"Labor Turnover" he said, "does not bother us. We generally have more applications than places. And, unless there is an excellent reason for action otherwise, our employees are retained year after year. Perhaps we are losing something by keeping the old and faithful workers on our staff whether they are able to do much or little, but that is the company attitude."

Later, when talking with Mr. Bennett, he referred to many times he had been forced to strenuous action in order to keep the plant going and the people employed. It is the policy to give as many workers as possible steady employment. It is the unspecified part of the bargain between Mr. Bennett and his co-workers in which the boys who have grown to mature years in the Cambridge factory are in full accord with their leader.

There is no wishy-washy sentiment about this. It is the policy and as such is adhered to. Those who are willing and who are able are given something to do. It is not surprising then to find that a very great many of the workers have never worked for any other factory than the one in Cambridge. Also, as an assistance to the workers, a restaurant is maintained adjoining the factory and working schedules are arranged so that all who wish can make use of these facilities.


Perhaps the most far-reaching decision made by Mr. Bennett was made less than ten years ago. After years of adversity and many vicissitudes had been conquered came the time to decide as to plans for the future.

Automatic production of the cheaper grades of glassware was becoming a factor in the trade and factories were deciding what policy to pursue. While it is true there are some who still hesitate on the decision, this was not true with Cambridge's brand of courage.

The question was gone into thoroughly. It was suggested that it would be possible to build another factory to be used for the manufacture of the better grade wares while the original plant be turned into one using continuous tanks for melting and automatic machinery for fabricating. Plans for the second factory were drawn (by this time the factory at Byesville had been closed and the workers moved to Cambridge) and the blueprints mulled over and considered.

When the decision was made, Mr. Bennett called in his boys and, pointing to the wastebasket where the torn blueprints had been thrown, told them there would not be a new factory and that the Cambridge Glass Co. was going to improve and continue to improve its products.

This was the hour in which it was decided it was better to lose $400,000 worth of business in the cheaper products and turn altogether to quality wares.

At that time, explained Mr. Bennett, the average value of their wares was that of the common staple pressed glass basis--7" nappies for $.80 per dozen, quart pitchers for $.80 per dozen, etc. They have graduated from this entirely. The policy has been to embellish the glass after it leaves the factory proper. Items that were formerly sold at $.80 to $1.00 per dozen in the ordinary finished glass are now decorated with etchings, gold encrustations, and other decorations and their values are increased up to $2.00 and $3.00 apiece. Only recently a dozen plates and cups and saucers, products of this company, were sold for retail in the City of Boston for $125. This, in itself, represents the tremendous improvement that has been made. The proposition now is not one of volume. It's quality.

It became the task of the Cambridge workers to produce decorations and other embellishments that would raise the value of the glass produced, bearing in mind at all times that quality was to be an essential--coupled with a price that would bring a reasonable volume and made profits to the buyers. The general consensus of opinion today is that the production of The Cambridge Glass Co., sells readily wherever shown and is a distinct profit maker.

(Continued Next Month--Reprinted with permission of China, Glass and Tableware.)