Mendham, NJ, August 04, 2016 --(PR.com
)-- Although it took nearly seven years of work, former company executive Jack Buckman’s intriguing account of the 160-year-old Singer Company was worth the wait. Part business memoir and part business management manual, his new book has received the Dog Ear Publishing Award of Literary Excellence. Buckman, who spent 17 years with Singer, offers little-known facts about the company’s founders and executives, as well as the triumphs – and tribulations – of the global company.
Buckman joined the Singer Company after college, working at its New York and London headquarters as budget manager, then director of planning and and eventually to Paris as director of finance. He became interested in Singer’s history because it was hard to function without it. “My boss, whom I loved, was the third generation general manager – very unusual in a corporate conglomerate,” Buckman said.
In addition, in France, nobody from headquarters was allowed to visit a Singer shop unless they knew how to sew. Those who did not could take a one-week class to learn how. The theory was “if a lone store manager were assisting a customer and a second customer came in, you’d have to know how to demonstrate the machine,” he said. (Buckman still remembers sewing basics.)
Over time, Buckman began to wonder about the company’s corporate structure and efficiency but didn’t begin thinking of a book until it was proposed by a professor at Yale University, his employer after he left Singer. “These things take a lot of time, and I’ve spent the last seven years on this with a lot of stops and starts. The end product came out better than I expected,” he said.
Others agree it was well worth the wait. Christy Phillippe, the Dog Ear Publishing editor who nominated the book for the award, called it “Extremely well-written, with attention to detail and a crisp writing style. … It was part memoir, part business text – instructing the reader through the lessons of history how one company (and its power-hungry presidents and CEOs) nearly drove it into the ground. An extremely interesting read – but also practical and applicable to anyone involved in the business world today.”
Dog Ear Publishing Award of Literary Excellence winners are determined by the company’s editorial team. The managing editor, editorial services manager and the publisher review its recommendations.
Buckman said his wife, a physician and an editor at a major professional journal who helped edit his book, kept discovering a lot of things she didn’t know, such as that Isaac Merritt Singer had at least 24 children by four women and supported all of them, except for the one wife who divorced him. “That is how much money you could make from sewing machines in those days,” Buckman said. Singer and his venture capitalist partner Edward Cabot Clark left estates of $15 and $50 million in the late nineteenth century. The Clark family felt an obligation to share this wealth with others, while the Singer felt no such obligation, quite the contrary.
The Clark family created two of the country’s greatest art collections and were instrumental in establishing the modern collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the museum of Modern Art, the Clark Institute at Williamstown, MA and the Yale Art Gallery.
“As I wrote the book, I began to examine in terms of management philosophy and behavior why these things happened to the company over the last 30 and 40 years and tried to glean some lessons in managing a large and diverse corporation – known as conglomerates– that were touted as the solution to the world’s economic problems,” Buckman said. "Essentially, many of the most notorious conglomerate leaders of those days have either failed or reverted to more traditional management structures."
“Singer got diverted into businesses it couldn’t understand and couldn’t manage,” he said. “CEOs were never sufficiently aware of the risk-return potential from the changes they imposed on the company. One can argue that the company only survived because of the renown of the Singer brand.”
One of Buckman’s challenges with writing the book was using creativity instead of financial writing. “One of the things I had to overcome my corporate habit of recounting rather of dry facts and to learn how to begin to write what’s called narrative nonfiction. It’s not easy to do, and you have to keep putting yourself in the position of a reader and ask if it’s an interesting tale or not. My early drafts had pages and pages of tables and numbers. A former colleague told me to carefully choose a voice and drop the tables of numbers,” he said.
Others are taking notice of “Unraveling the Threads.” The Atwater Library and Computer Centre, an English-language library in Montreal, Canada will host a talk later this year.
For additional information, please visit www.unravelingsingersewing.com
Unraveling the Threads: The Life, Death and Resurrection of the Singer Company
Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-4575-4661-7 304 pages $19.95 US
Available at Ingram, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and fine bookstores everywhere.
About Dog Ear Publishing, LLC
Dog Ear Publishing offers completely customized self-publishing services for independent authors. Self-publishing services are available globally at dogearpublishing.net and from our offices in Indianapolis.