Carr, Adams & Collier/Caradco, 1957 to 1976, product development, Spahn & Rose, 1976 to present
I was looking for a job for when I got out of high school and Caradco interviewed me up at the high school for a job in time study—I thought that was something I might want to do. I looked at the employment service in-between and they said, “we got nothing for you.” So I came back to Caradco and I interviewed down there and they said, “Well, somebody took that time study job, but we can put you on as an office boy—we got a slot open there. So I thought, well, I might as well take it, you know, it’s better than no job at all.
I started at the grand sum of one hundred and ninety dollars a month. And if you were good, there—or if they approved of you, I should say—you went up fifteen dollars a month in sixty days. That was two hundred and five dollars a month. That’s what I was making when I started here in ’57. Of course, you could buy more for that, then. Still, it wasn’t no big shake of a wage, as far as that goes.
I was still seventeen when I started—I didn’t turn eighteen until I was here. I delivered mail for probably two months, and then I went over to the order-chasing department. I did that for a couple years. People would call in and want to know the status of their orders, so you’d have to run out to the factory and hunt them down. There weren’t cell phones and all that stuff, you know, so you’d have to run out and ask the foreman about the progress of the order. I got to know the whole complex pretty well. See, at Caradco, they did everything in house, from start to finish. They got big planks in by rail, and they took them to the cutting rooms and ripped them whatever sized they needed. Right now most window and door places, like Eagle up here, they buy what they call cut stock. They don’t do any ripping and stuff like that. Caradco handled everything here: sales, and advertising, product development, it was all handled right here in this complex.
Eventually I got into drafting and then product development. I did more design work, then. Patio doors were my thing. You’d develop a new product and test it— make models and prototypes. There were two guys there who you’d give them the drawings and they would build models. And then we had to test them.
When Caradco moved to Rantoul, Illinois, I had the opportunity to move with them. Most everybody in the office did. And as you held out longer, the offer got a little better. In the end, probably about fifty people out of the office made the move. The bad part was after a year they’d lost quite a few of those already. People moved back, or they got another job or whatever. But I didn’t go; I went across the street to Spahn and Rose. I had a background in millwork and millwork design and they were looking for someone like that for sales. In fact, I went out to a house on a job yesterday, and there were a couple of old Caradco patio doors there. I said, “I know what those are. I drew ‘em.”