Public Relations

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Public Relations

Public Relations

The importance which the company places on advertising and public relations can be understood from President Reed's own words, "We have to be great salesmen because all we have to sell is service." Robert R. Mathews is vice-president in charge of advertising. He is also an expert public relations man, and it is his job to keep American Express's best foot forward in the public view. This he does with consistent effectiveness.

Of course, as might be expected in an organization with a comprehensive network of offices and bureaus covering all sections of the United States and a system of branches abroad which girdles the globe, the purely administrative departments play an important part in the success of the company. The District Office Administration is an example. This department is responsible for manning and supervising the twenty-five district offices, two travel offices, and twenty-eight travel bureaus in North America. It is under the direction of Vice-President Dennis L. Harmon, whose activities abroad have been mentioned. Harmon served as American Express general manager in Switzerland for eighteen years and in cooperation with the present manager, Vice-President and General Manager Jules Egli, built up the large and profitable Swiss organization.

Vice-President Frank B. Harding supervises all the European offices from the headquarters. Harding is a lean and ascetic Englishman who joined American Express in 1912 as a stenographer in the Liverpool office. He took time out to serve in World War I as a volunteer artilleryman and later in the R.F.C. After the war he went to 11 Rue Scribe, where he gained great experience under Director General Thomas. In 1930, Harding was made general manager for the Far East with headquarters at Istanbul. Then he went back to Paris, where he stayed until 1936, when he made his first trip to New York. Thus, after twenty-four years of service with American Express, Harding saw the United States at last. Such a paradox can no longer happen, for it is now the policy of the company to bring all European managers to New York at regular intervals to keep them in touch with American ways.

Harding served with the British Army throughout World War II and was appointed to his present post in 1946. He is responsible for the administration of ninety-six offices and sub-offices in Europe and the Near East.

His job is a complex one, because it is American Express policy to man the European offices largely with citizens of the country where they are located. Harding must inspire Frenchmen and Germans, Swedes, Italians, Belgians, Dutchmen, and twenty-odd other nationalities with the authentic spirit of American Express. He has won the loyalty of the European employees by his philosophy of friendship and understanding, and by never issuing an order without giving a reasonable explanation for it. The success of his stewardship is evident to any traveller who has been served by the European personnel.

Vice-President Robert E. Bergeron, whose long and adventurous career has included stations in almost every country of Europe, as well as in the Near East and the Orient, is in charge of financial activities in Europe and the Near East. His is a large sphere, as American Express carries on large-scale banking activities in such European countries as England, Switzerland, Italy, and France. In the occupied countries of Germany and Austria, American Express has had a big job, since 1947, as banker to United States armed forces. Bergeron supervises these extensive European financial services from the New York headquarters.

The difficult task of developing and carrying out plans for reopening American Express offices closed by the war, and - once services were restored - of extending the network of foreign offices, was shared to an important degree by Vice-President John W. Groome. Joining American Express at the age of sixteen as a mail boy, Groome has been with the organization both here and abroad for thirty years.

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What next? Rebuilding the Empire

Rebuilding the Empire

Long before the end of the war, the management of American Express had its plans made for resuming its commanding position in world travel and trade. While the signatures were still wet on the surrender signed in Tokyo Bay, it began the work of rebuilding.

It was a gigantic task, brilliantly executed. From 1,500 employees and 50 offices, the personnel of American Express has born expanded to 5,500 employees and 173 offices. Its old offices have been reopened all over the world and new ones added wherever opportunity for service with profit presented a fair prospect. All the former services and conveniences have been restored, and American Expressmen are inventing new ones every day.

Executive Vice-President Howard A. Smith is an important member of the headquarters group - actually he is the All-American centre of the company's activities. He came to American Express in the period of change and expansion after World War I and has been prominently... see: Rebuilding the Empire

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