Paul V. Galvin was an electronics business pioneer who was the co-founder of Motorola, Inc. He was born in Harvard, Illinois on June 27, 1895. Harvard today is a beautiful small city of 8,000 people in the northwest corner of McHenry County and is a short drive south of Delevan and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The founders of the town chose the present location of Harvard in 1855 as the place most logical for a train wood and fuel stop for trains outbound from Chicago on the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. Railroad engine switching yards were located in Harvard in 1959.
When Paul Galvin finished high school, he took a job as a clerk in the railroad roundhouse at Harvard. He completed two years at the University of Illinois but returned to Harvard to clerk at the railroad station and then moved to Chicago to clerk with Commonwealth Edison Company. When American entered World War I in April 1917, Paul served as a front-line artillery officer in France.
From 1919 to 1923 Galvin tried and failed to set up a storage battery company in Marshfield, Wisconsin. But by the end of 1923, he was back with his wife and baby son in Chicago working as a personal assistant for Emil Brach, the founder of Brach Candy Company. By 1926, Galvin tried again and failed again to set up a battery manufacturing company.
Finally, on Sept. 25, 1928, Paul Galvin and his brother Joe Galvin formed Galvin Manufacturing in Chicago to make and sell radios that would work on household AC electric current instead of batteries. The company had five employees in rented space at 847 West Harrison Street. The brand-name "Motorola" came about in 1930 when the brothers started making special radios for cars. At the time, radios in cars were a special innovation. One of the early car radio team members was William Lear of Quincy, Illinois, who later invented the Lear Jet.
In 1931 Galvin took on the challenge of setting up wholesale distributorships for his new brand name car radio. Seven distributorships were set up in 1931 and eventually that buisness model would prove to be a stable element in the growth of Motorola.
In 1934, Paul Galvin entered into an agreement to sell Motorola car radios in hundreds of auto parts stores managed by the B.F. Goodrich Tire Company. This strategic move and skillful advertising aimed at long-distance auto and truck drivers help to put the company on a sound footing even during the latter part of the Depression.
In 1937, Motorola tries again to enter the home radio business but Galvin was able to anticipate a wide recession. His distributors discounted the price of radios and brought down ineventories just in time. But even as the company survived, Motorola had to lay off more than sixty percent of its workers. But adversity for another car radio company actually helped Motorola. The Philco Radio Company was hit by a strike and had to contract out production of radios to meet its commitments and the Philco business that came to Motorola brought in enough revenue to help Galvin and his team get past the recession.
Galvin led Motorola to more success in 1939 when the company developed special two-way radios for police cars. In 1940 and 1941, Motorola successfully developed two-way field radios for the US Army that the company called "Handie-Talkies" and soldiers called "Walkie-Talkies." With the police and Army contracts, the Motorola company, which went public in 1943, became an established leader in mobile radio applications.
In the ten years between 1945 and 1955, Paul Galvin launched a series of aggressive business moves for Motorola in semiconductors, portable AM radio sales, phonograph products, transistors, and the new television market. Motorola tried to undercut RCA with a very early TV set with a tiny seven-inch diagonal screen that sold for $180 compared to the RCA model at $300. By 1947, Motorola volume and sales for TV sets put it in fourth place in the industry.
By 1954, Paul Galvin was 59 years old and he realized that Motorola businesses had grown too large and complex for him to have enough time to make all the major management decisions. He re-organized the company into product-line divisions. In 1956, Paul turned over the presidency of the company to his son Bob Galvin and each division manager became an executive vice president for the overall company.
For the next three years, Paul Galvin remained as Chairman of the Board of Motorola but is health started to fail in 1958 when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Paul died on November 5, 1959 at the age of 64. Paul's son Bob Galvin ran the company until his retirement in 1990.
There is no doubt one milestone in the history of Motorola that Paul Galvin would have loved to see if he had lived long enough. It was in July 1969 when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon and used Motorola equipment to broadcast his first audio and video messages from the surface of the moon to a tracking station in Australia.
Galvin has been honored for his managerial style in 1990 by the American National Business Hall of Fame. In particular, studies have cited the many ways in which he was able to motivate employees, foster effective team work, and share profits among employees to inspire loyalty to the vision of success that he had for Motorola.
Today, the company that Paul Galvin co-founded in 1928 with his brother Joe is today a Fortune 100 company with global communications business and individual customers. The company headquarters is in Schaumburg, Illinois and the company had sales of $35.3 billion in 2005. Even though the company is much leaner today than in the early 1990s, it is still a huge success measured from its origins.
From the five employees of Galvin Manufacturing in 1928, the company payroll has grown to an estimated 69,000 employees in 320 locations in 73 countries as of July 2006. Tens of thousands of those jobs are located in Illinois making Motorola one of the most signficant private sector employers in the state today.