Country Boy Philosophy Spreads Sale of Products
Expansion of Sinclair's wholesale and retail outlets was largely what the salesmen, themselves Midwesterners, called a "country boy operation." The bankers, less romantic, described it as shoestring financing. The company spent its own money for service stations only where "prestige" was important. Most of the pumps which gurgled Sinclair gasoline were operated by their owners who, like Mr. Sinclair himself, cherished their independence and individualism. There was no uniformity of station design or operation, no homogeneity of procedures. The attendants possessed the enthusiasm of men anxious to identify with the new auto supply industry which might make their fortunes.
No advertising was necessary. Until after World War I, gasoline demand outstripped supply, rising 38 percent between 1917 and 1919 to ten million gallons of gasoline a day.
Car owners greased, changed tires and tinkered their hobby vehicles as a fetish; no station offered such services. One grade of gasoline, one kind of crankcase oil and one- to two-pound cans of grease were the service station's entire inventory.
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