Cargill

Cargill

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Broehl Jr., Wayne G. University Press of New England, 1992
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IN THIS SUMMARY

After the Civil War hosts of both agricultural and business opportunities for exploiting the land surfaced. Conover, Iowa, had not existed prior to 1864, but by 1865 it was a bustling town focused on business. Twenty-one-year-old W.W. Cargill, drawn to the area because of the proliferation of warehouses, formed a partnership, Marsh & Cargill, to run one of the grain warehouses. Soon, the partnership opened a lumberyard in Lime Springs, Iowa, and then another in Austin, Minnesota. In 1875 W.W. and his wife moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and W.W. Cargill & Bro. became his La Crosse business name. W.W. then established Cargill & Van, a grain and produce partnership (1877). He began acquiring large numbers of warehouses and grain elevators and entered flour milling on a small scale in the early 1880s. After running his businesses as partnerships for 25 years, W.W. decided to incorporate. The MacMillans, the other prominent La Crosse family, were among the leaders in lumbering. John MacMillan (John Sr.), by now married to W.W.’s oldest daughter, was asked to take over Cargill’s Minneapolis grain operation as vice president and general manager. Within a year John Sr. took a major step toward expansion, acquiring Thorpe Elevator Company for Cargill Elevator. By 1925 it was noticed that John Sr. had become more critical, more authoritarian, and had taken a more centralizing position. Some thought this change was due to the influence of John Jr., who had returned from the war and entered the family business, and who was already redefining the company in his own personal image. John Jr. built the wheat department and the entire grain operation into a dynamic centralized unit. He also put his mark on accounting and office procedures, restructured the transportation functions of the company, and took a central role in the construction of new terminals.