When Mrs. Edna White took over the company World War Two was just a few months away. It is important to point out at that Edna White was the first women executive (in the band industry) entering a male dominated world, and many in the industry viewed her as an outsider and predicted the immediate decline of The H. N. White Company. What many of Mrs. White's critics failed to realize was that she had experience in the business world and knew how and when to use her authority. Edna's basic belief was that The H. N. White Company should have superior quality second to none, and she let this belief motivate most of her business decisions. With the start of the war, the company was unable to make many instruments although the service department remained open, and Mrs. White worked hard to get government contracts. The work force was highly skilled and particularly adapt at putting together saxophones with many parts that had to be tuned just right. With that in mind, the government issued the company two large contracts. The first contract was to assemble radar units (tuners and antennae's) for both the Navy and Army. Because of the company's complex work with silver, the second contract was issued to assemble silver plated parts on proximity fuses. Each radar unit had a large number of parts and were difficult to assemble, and King craftsman worked long hours to increase production.
Throughout this time Mrs. White (in the center office talking to someone 1945), President of The H. N. White Company, had to reassure the network of King dealers that a woman as President still meant that the company was going to stay focused on good products with great quality when the war was finished. For the most part the dealers were happy with the change and continued their partnership with the King company. As the war drew to a close, work slowly began on a new line of instruments to be introduced when the war over. By the end of the war, The H. N. White Company had completed a $250,000 expansion (two new wings) which increased production by fifty percent. The total war time contracts awarded to the company totaled five million dollars.
Mrs. White's daughter Cathryn (Kay) White Ludwig (now married to William F. Ludwig Jr) became the companies Vice President and advertising director in 1945. Cathryn was responsible for putting together the White
Way News catalogs and calling on one thousand dealers a year. One of the first changes that Cathryn made was to change the King logo to a crown and add the words "world's Finest". The logo change marked the entry into what some believe as the companies best yeas. A few years later on September 21, 1947 Cathryn gave birth to a baby girl, Ellen Ludwig.
With Mrs White at the helm, the company continued to be a profitable enterprise, and in 1946 Mrs. White introduced the first bonus program to the company, each bonus was based on a production quota which was determined by the previous years production. Mrs. White would spend a considerable amount of time at work and entertaining clients at her home on 2820 Broxton Road in Shaker Heights (purchased in 1948). Edna would also take time to be with her Granddaughter (Ellen).
The most popular artist for the H. N. White Company during the 1940's and the early 1950's was Tommy Dorsey. "The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing", was a master at creating warm, sentimental, and superb dancing and listening tempos. Tommy visited Cleveland often, and would spend time on the factory floor working closely with most of the craftsmen. With Mr. Dorsey's input and endorsement, King trombones continued to be the best in the world.
Also after the war, Mrs. White restarted production of only the most popular and profitable instruments, which reduced the King line up by some thirty instruments. At the same time King introduced a new line of saxophones called the Super 20. The company marketed the Super 20 as a brand new saxophone from the ground up but in reality the Super 20 was a twenty point refinement of the popular Zephyr Special which was in production only a short time before the war broke out. The Super 20 was an immediate sales success and greats like Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, and Charlie "The Bird" Parker played the Super 20. Later in 1946, the new Super 20 trumpets with dual-bore and sterling silver bell were introduced. Trumpet greats like Harry James and Ziggy Elman jumped at the opportunity to own one.
In 1952 with the outbreak of the Korean War The H. N. White Company again found it's self facing a shortage of brass. Mrs White quickly was awarded another government contract to produce radar parts. At the same time the Military the place a very large order for band instruments while another government agency refused to "release" additional brass calling the instruments "...really not necessary". In order to keep up with Military requirements and Instrument production Mrs White increased the average work week from 46 hours to 56 hours. King dealers were buying as many instruments as they could get their hands on fearing what happened in World War II and sales grew by 30 percent. Over the next two years the situation remained the same and the King work force grew from 250 to 300 people.
By the end of 1952 Cathryn had divorced Bill Ludwig Jr. (changed her last name back to White) and devoted herself to a full time work load and life as a single parent. Cathryn's responsibilities grew at the company to include filling for her mother when she went on vacations or felt ill. During these years Cathryn was working hard to get big name artists to endorse King at every opportunity. In 1952 Cathryn took a cross country trip to call on dealers and work at a music convention in Las Vegas. Cathryn's (Kay) hard work paid off when she convinced Harry James to stop by the plant and try the new Super 20 trumpet. Harry wanted an instrument that had the valves moved forward a few inches to accommodate his long arms and while he was in Cleveland Mrs. White put a team of designers and craftsmen to work on his requirements. By the time that Harry left the plant he had traded in his Selmer trumpet for a H. N. White "Super 20 Silver Sonic" and signed a deal to endorse King trumpets. Harry's first few Super 20's were normal production trumpets, but by the end of 1952 Harry took delivery of his "balanced" model. This change in trumpets and endorsement deal was due in large part because of the friend ship Harry had started with Mrs. H. N. White and Cathryn. For the next thirteen years when Harry was in Cleveland he would stop by the King plant (to pick up a new trumpet) and would spend hours talking with "Mom White" (Edna) and would go out for an early dinner with her before going to his gig. If Harry was ever in town around the Holidays he would have dinner a Edna's house.
Throughout the 1950's The H. N. White Company strived to make continual improvements to their instrument line up. Quality was built into every instrument and the company continued to stand behind their work with a Guarantee Bond against faulty workmanship and defective materials for the life of the instrument.
In 1951-53 The new 3-B Trombone
was introduced to the market. The 3-B continued The H. N. White Companies success
and leadership with trombones and sales grew. Also, in 1950 "Silver
Tone" or instruments with Sterling Silver bells were renamed "Silversonic".
In 1951-53 The new 3-B Trombone was introduced to the market. The 3-B continued The H. N. White Companies success and leadership with trombones and sales grew.
Also, in 1950 "Silver Tone" or instruments with Sterling Silver bells were renamed "Silversonic".
By early 1962, it was decided that the brand name American
Standard should be up dated and changed to Tempo. The Tempo line of instruments
stayed the same, giving the customer a great instrument at a low price. The
Companies three brands were: King, Cleveland, and Tempo.
By early 1962, it was decided that the brand name American Standard should be up dated and changed to Tempo. The Tempo line of instruments stayed the same, giving the customer a great instrument at a low price. The Companies three brands were: King, Cleveland, and Tempo.
Around the middle of 1964 it became clear the current factory was outdated. King had been manufacturing in the same buildings for more than fifty years and a new location was needed. In 1964 Mrs. Edna White purchased 12.5 acres of land to put a new plant on in Eastlake Ohio. Another big change that happened in September 1964 was that Cathryn updated the King logo to the modern crown that is still used today. Then 1965 with her health fading, Mrs. White, along with her daughter decided to sell the company to Mr. Nate Dolan and his partners. For the next few years Mrs. White would still go to work at the Eastlake facility that she helped build but she never grew to like it as much as the 5225 Superior location. Mrs. Edna White died in 1969 and Mrs. Cathryn (Kay) White passed away in 2005. The family is survived by Cathryn's two grandchildren who live in Ohio.
All pictures are property of www.hnwhite.com and may not be reproduced without written consent.
The H. N. White story is completed with
the best information available, and if you can provide more accurate information
your help is greatly appreciated.
The H. N. White story is completed with the best information available, and if you can provide more accurate information your help is greatly appreciated.
If you can provide anymore information or factorial information about the H. N. White story please contact me:
Copyright ©2013 The H. N. White Company LLC
All Rights Reserved.