Today: Henry Taub, who with his brother and a friend built a giant global company, at first on a shoestring budget.
Born in 1927 in Paterson, New Jersey, Henry was the son of a textile mill worker who was also a junk dealer. As late as the 1960’s Henry’s father rode his horse drawn junk wagon with a slow clip clop of the horse’s hoofs on the asphalt streets of Paterson as he bought and sold junk.
Meanwhile his son Henry attended public schools, skipping two grades and graduated from New York University in only three years with a degree in accounting at the age of 19. Henry then went to work for an accounting firm.
But Henry’s enormous success began when he was just 22, when a clothing business accounting client was unable to issue paychecks because an employee got sick and missed work. Employees were furious and many of them briefly walked out in protest, loudly shutting down the business.
Watching this ugly event gave Henry an idea for a new business service: payroll processing. He named it Automatic Payrolls, Inc.
On a shoestring budget, Henry and his brother Joe opened a small office above a Paterson ice cream parlor. To keep their costs down, Henry and Joe personally delivered the payrolls to their clients by taking busses. For the first few years, their business was profitable but modest in size.
Then they found the missing ingredient. They recruited their boyhood friend, insurance salesman Frank Lautenberg. Frank aggressively knocked on doors, landing new accounts as he and the Taub brothers built the business into something substantial.
As the number of customers grew, so did the sales organization as did the back office to support all these new customers. Having so many customers opened the door to provide accounting and other back office services well beyond just payroll processing.
The firm grew rapidly and in 1958 was renamed Automatic Data Processing (ADP) to reflect the wider range of services it offered. And that growth continued. Today, Roseland, NJ based ADP has 47,000 employees, 550,000 clients in 125 countries and annual sales of nearly $9 billion.
This success made the Taub brothers and Frank very wealthy and allowed them to pursue other ventures that interested them. Frank went into politics and was elected a U.S. Senator from New Jersey in 1983, a prominent position he holds today.
Henry was president of the firm from 1949 – 1970, chairman and CEO from 1970 – 1977 and he was chairman from 1977 – 1985. He then became an honorary chairman, a lifetime position.
In 1985, he began pursuing other major activities that touched his heart. He and his wife Marilyn set-up the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, seeding it with assets of $150 million and began funding social causes.
Those social causes were many and included the Taub Center for Israel Studies at New York University, the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Jerusalem and the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University.
Henry also served on boards which included the Interfaith Hunger Appeal and the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater and the corporate boards of Bank Leumi (of New York), Hasbro and Rite-Aid. He was a New York University trustee as well.
And if you are a sports fan, of additional interest to you is for nearly 20 years, Henry was a co-owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team.
What was the key to the success of ADP, which ultimately allowed the Taub brothers and Frank Lautenberg to do the other things they wanted to do?
“The idea was not a brilliant idea, it was a good idea,” Frank told the New York Times (4/3/11). “But what we did in terms of hard work made it. Lots of seven-day workweeks, lots of 12-hour days.*
“Each of us had a function,” Frank added. “Henry was the strategic one in the firm and designed the system, and Joe managed the operation, and I was the marketer, the salesman.”*
Henry lived a storied life. But on March 31st, 2011 he died at the age of 83 from complications of leukemia. He is survived by his brother Joe, by Marilyn, his wife of 53 years, and by their three children, Judith, Steven and Ira and by 10 grandchildren.
But Henry is also survived by ADP’s 47,000 employees and their families and by the many other businesses in 125 countries they serve.
And Henry is also survived by vast numbers of people his and Marilyn’s Foundation has helped or will help, as he was determined to make this a better world.
Success Tip of the Week:
If you have a business idea, even if it seems ordinary, if you believe in it, act on it. It may one day become a giant like ADP or it may remain small, offering customers a wonderful product or service and you additional income and personal satisfaction.
*Quotes are from: “Henry Taub, a Founder of a Payroll Firm That Became a Global Giant, Dies at 83,” New York Times (4/4/11). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/business/05taub.html
In the next KazanToday:
A teacher whose lessons have educated millions of people, perhaps you being one of them.
To learn more about ADP, please see: http://www.adp.com/