Tuesday, April 14, 2015

1995 Wells Mfg. Business Report

Wells Mfg. was the subject of an Government/Economic Class Business Report, written by Kathy Williams, a student in the spring of 1995.  The report and a follow-up letter is scanned and transcribed below.

Her perspective on New Vienna and Wells are interesting.  As a reminder, Wells Mfg., the company and property in New Vienna, was sold in 1999 and is no longer owned by the Uible family.  [My comments included in bracketed italics.]

Other articles about Wells include:

Driving along 73 West I find myself in a tiny little town known as New Vienna.  I look to my left . . . .a small trailer park.  As I glance to my right . . . a generic gas station.  Pretty bare, pretty boring . . . but wait, now I'm at the corner of Main and South streets at a railroad.  Two long one story red brick buildings [the upper floor of the old hotel part of the main building must have gone unnoticed] straddle the almost barren gray street.  I parallel park –yes I can parallel park– on the right side of the street.  Could this be the place?  Instantly noises float through the air of metal clanging together, the constant hum of machinery hard at work, and the distinct shhhhh that sounds like frying an egg in a well buttered skillet.

What's making all this racket in this sleepy little town?  It's Wells Toy Manufacturing located right here in Clinton County.  Who knew? 

Interesting, I think to myself.  Quickly I cross the quiet street to meet and talk with Mr. Harold Uible, in his law office to discuss his company.

Wells Manufacturing Company was started by a man named George Wells 50 years ago in Dayton, Ohio during 1945.  George Wells was not a manufacturer.  In fact, in the Company's earliest years it didn't even manufacture toys or anything else for that matter.  The Company just sold things such as toys under the Wells name.  1945 was a good year to be a salesman because World War II had just ended and the post war attitude of no longer being frugal for the war effort was taking hold.  Thus the Wells company was off to a great start.  Then in 1947, the Wells Company moved to New Vienna, Ohio with local individuals acquiring ownership.  C.J. Uible, the father of Mr. Harold Uible, obtained ownership of the Company in 1949.

Early products manufactured by Wells were plastic novelties like sponge balls and then later jacks and corn holders.  Workers were paid only $0.55 an hour which was very good pay back in the mid to late 1940's.  Today while browsing through Walmart, K-mart, a supermarket or of course a toy store it's highly probably [sic] to come upon a product manufactured by Wells.  Such products include Bubbly Joy, sponge balls, gloss balls, paddle balls, "pinkie" balls, soft baseballs, plastic bats and balls, paddle balls [duplicated], jacks, jump ropes, pinwheels, chalkboards, marbles, yo-yos, and "fun combinations" which may entail any number or variety of the above named products.  Although the Buckeye State is the Company's biggest buyer, Ohio isn't the only place where one would find a product manufactured by Wells because Wells distributes their products in all 50 states and even does some business in Canada and Mexico.

Pretty amazing considering Wells only location is in New Vienna, employing just 40 people and occupying only 100,000 sq. ft. of land.  But the small size of Wells hasn't affected the demands for the company's products.  Wells #1 selling item is the soap bubble bottles withe the "magic" bubble wand inside selling 3 million a week.  The second biggest seller for Wells is the rubber sponge ball which number 100,000 balls per week.  On the other hand, jump ropes are low on invoice orders.  For example for every 200 cases of bubble joy sold, only 4 [cases?]  jump ropes are sold.  Mr. Uible says his bubble joy sells so much more because once it's used up it's gone forever as opposed to a jump rope which can last a lifetime.

Mr. Harold Uible is president and sales director of Wells Manufacturing.  Business associates include: vice president Gene Williams, secretary and personnel director Carolyn Rhonemus, treasurer and head of finance GiGi [GG] Walker, purchasing Ted Walm.

In dollar figures, Wells pulls in $2 million in annual sales; payroll expenses are $10,000 a month. Liability insurance is around $35,000 a year, and utilities are about $4,500 a month.  

Wells main competition comes from China and Mexico where labor is cheaper than here in the U.S.  Although competition really comes from all kinds of other "impulse buy" products one sees at the end of checkout lines in grocery, discount and drug stores.

Ohio is the state that buys the most from Wells, and Mr. Uible says Wells is in Ohio to stay.  When I asked Mr. Uible about the future of Wells, he stated cheerfully, "optimistic, you gotta be."

Buying new manufacturing equipment and keeping up the pace with the electronic age are definitely in the plans ahead for the Company.  Mr. Uible's philosophy on business is simple and has obviously proved successful, "Make a good product and people will buy it!"

O.K. so wells is not the typical corporate giant, in fact the stock is even kept in the family.  But then again being small is what makes Well's [sic] in the sleepy little town of New Vienna Wells Manufacturing Company has quietly been producing toys for children all over the United States to play with and enjoy.  Wells has also weathered the harsh business world for 50 years with an optimistic outlook for the future.  A large accomplishment indeed!

* * * * *
[note from teacher, Mr. Gunkel] This is an excellent report!  I do question your monthly payroll with 40 employees.  

[grade =] 99

* * * * *
[Follow up letter from Kathy Williams]

Mr. Uible,


Thank you so much for the interview for my government/economics project.  I really appreciate the time you took to help me and helping me learn about stocks.  I recieved [sic] the 2nd highest grade out of the entire senior class . . . a 99.  I'm sending you a copy of my report.  You're welcome to keep it if you like because I have the report saved on my computer.  (I think I might have a strange figure down for the monthly payroll ~~?) . . . Anyway – Thanks again for helping me create a successful paper!

                           Kathy Williams

P.S. – Best of Luck for continued success in Wells' Future!

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