Animals And Pets

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Animals and Pets

Animals and Pets

Animals always require special care, and American Express handles a great many animals. The largest elephant in the world was delivered to the circus in 1950, just in time for opening night. The traffic in shepherd dogs from Germany is heavy. In the first three months of 1950, 180 dogs were shipped from Bremen alone. They had to be watched and exercised all the way over.

One of these animal shipments nearly cost American Express a good man. A male and a female tiger arrived by ship from the great Hamburg zoo. Stephen Tugwell, who was then master of transportation, and his assistant, Richard Broomhead, were at the dock to meet them. A large cage was hoisted from the hold and lowered to the dock, swaying wildly as the furious animals hurled themselves against the bars. As it came to rest on the dock, Tugwell consulted the manifest. "You are to ship the male to the St. Louis zoo and the female to Detroit," he directed Broomhead.

His assistant looked fearfully at the raging beasts. "How am I going to do that?" he asked.

"You've got to separate them," Tugwell explained. "You've got to separate them," Broomhead said faintly. I have just resigned.

Perishable commodities of all kinds strain the ingenuity of Expressmen - exotic tropical fruits; chestnuts from Italy, which generate heat and must be aired or they will catch fire; and orchids from South America. Recently a ship with £60,000 worth of orchids aboard was left anchored at quarantine because of a stevedores' strike in New York. The Foreign Traffic Department borrowed a tug and two lighters from the New York Central Lines and unloaded the orchids in midstream.

Certain other activities of American Express are carried on by wholly or partially owned subsidiaries. One of these is the American Express Field Warehousing Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary, which offers a service whereby manufacturers or suppliers of commodities lease to the corporation a portion of their premises. This becomes a "field" warehouse under the control of the corporation, which takes over inventories and issues warehouse receipts which are acceptable as collateral for bank loans. Thus, without the necessity for moving his product twice, a manufacturer, distributor, or merchant may borrow money on his inventory until it is ready to be delivered to his customers.

Wells Fargo, formed two years after American Express by the latter's famous founders, Henry Wells and William G. Fargo, was a separate company for nearly three quarters of a century. Control of Wells Fargo is now held by American Express; its president is Elmer R. Jones and its executive vice-president is Sherman Andrew Boyce, formerly an officer of the American Express Company. Ralph T. Reed is chairman of the Board of Wells Fargo and keeps a finger on the pulse of its operations.

The principal activity of Wells Fargo is its large Mexican business, ably directed by Vice-President Sherman A. Boyce and operated by its Mexican subsidiary, Wells Fargo and Company S.A.S.M. Working in close cooperation with American Express, this company handles about 40 per cent of American tourists to Mexico who purchase their tickets through a travel bureau. The company also owns a fine tourist hotel, the Rancho Telva, at Taxco.

In addition, Wells Fargo is the national distributor for all Mexico of Reo trucks, Studebaker cars, and the John Deere line of farm machinery. It operates large stores in ten Mexican cities, and its sales of cars, trucks, tractors, and farm machinery average £9,000,000 annually.

In New York, the Wells Fargo Armoured Service Corporation is in the same business that made Wells Fargo a romantic name in the days when it brought out the gold and silver from the Comstock Lode and Virginia City. Instead of Concord coaches with six galloping horses, it now uses heavily armoured trucks painted the traditional Wells Fargo red. The trucks annually transport throughout the metropolitan area gold and silver, currency and securities with a value of more than £8,000,000,000.

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What next? Specialist Freight

Specialist Freight

The bulk of the freight-forwarding business is comparatively plain sailing. Scotch whisky from England is one of its biggest items, as are the wines of France. Luxury merchandise for American retailers is another big item. The company specializes in shipping Dutch tulip bulbs, which, because of their perishable nature, must be handled and passed through government quarantine with great speed.

Another specialty of American Express is carpet wool, of which it handles 80 per cent of American imports. That sounds like a prosaic commodity, but actually it is not. For carpet wool comes from all the tough places, the highlands and mountains, the pampas of Argentina, and the harsh hills of northern China. Wherever a sheep grows long, coarse wool to protect himself from the cold, drinks brackish water because he can find no other, and half starves for lack of fodder, he becomes a producer of carpet wool. If Himalayan sheep were brought to New Jersey, in two generations... see: Specialist Freight

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