Edward J. Barber
X these days, when the question of the re-habilitation and enlargement of our American Merchant Marine looms so prominently in the horizon, it is well to reflect how much we owe to the men and firms that have steadily kept the American flag floating in all parts of the world. Of these no name is more prominent or more re-spected in the shipping world than that of Bar-ber—now represented by Barber & Company, Incorporated, and its subsidiary companies.
This business had its origin in 1886, when it was established by Messrs. Herbert and James Barber, and was incorporated under the present name in 1902. In 1917 it sold its steamshipping business to the Barber Steamship Lines, Inc. (a Xew York corporation), the officers of which are James Barber, chairman of the Board of Directors; Edward J. Barber, president; F. B. Mac- kay and A. Houtman, vice-presidents; Oakley Wood, vice-president, secretary and treasurer; Charles D. Henley, assistant treasurer.
The business of Barber & Company, Inc., was begun on a small scale, but its growth was rapid and continuous, and for thirty years it carried on a general steamship business, developing American trade in many ports of the world as pioneers, and establishing commercial relations of the most direct and valuable character. Barber & Company, Inc., was an American-owned and controlled company operating steamships to all parts of the world in general trading, and were probably its largest charterers of tonnage for long-voyage trade in the United States. They particularly maintained regular freight service from New York to China, Japan, Vladivostok, and the Straits Settlements, in which trades they were pioneers, and in those countries the name of the Barber firm is highly respected in the commercial and shipping circles of all principal Far Eastern ports.
Barber & Company, Inc., was the only Ameri-can-controlled company maintaining a regular service between New York and River Plate, in which this company was the dominant factor in the freight service for many years prior to the entry of the United States into the world war.
Barber & Company, Inc., maintained for prac-tically thirty years the only regular freight service out of New York to France in competition with the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique. The operations of the company were widely diversified and comprehensive of a practically world-wide commerce. They were agents for regular service from New York to South Africa for twenty-five years, and also managed lines from New York to Australia, to the Mediterranean, and to Scandinavian ports.
The Barber Steamship Lines, Inc., now conduct that branch of the Barber activities. They do not own any steamers, but act as agents and managers for steamers owned by Barber & Company's subsidiary companies the New York and Oriental Steamship Company, Inc., the La Plata Steamship Company, Inc., and the Macona Steamship Corporation. The fleets of these companies, by cooperation through their management by the Barber Steamship Lines, Inc., are capable of giving quick despatch to freights and to cover what is probably the widest range of ocean transportation controlled by any New York organization.
Other subsidiaries of Barber & Company, Inc., include the Pier Machine Works, Inc., the Atlantic Piers Company, the Atlantic Stevedoring Company, Inc., Barber Sailing Ship Lines, Inc., Virginia Coaling Corporation, and the Atlantic Towing Company, Inc., and through these subsidiaries the Barber organization is able to control and do a large share of its own repair and harbor work and to greatly increase the port efficiency of their vessels.
The Atlantic Piers Company operates and con-trols Piers Nos. 36, 37, and 38, Atlantic Basin, Brooklyn, where it has a capacity for berthing from twelve to fourteen steamers at one time, with extensive, warehouse facilities in connection.
The Pier Machine Works, Inc., is located on Pier 36, Atlantic Basin, Brooklyn, and the Barber Steamship Lines are thus able to work their steamers while repairs are being made.
The Atlantic Towing Company is another important subsidiary company engaged in the handling of the work of shifting lighters, barges and steamers, while the Atlantic Stevedoring Company and the Virginia Coaling Corporation provide the Barber Companies with a thorough organization for loading and unloading of vessels, for coal supply and for the necessary bunkering activities.
Thus the Barber & Company business has been perfected by its long experience into an enterprise which is not only strong but also in the highest de-gree efficient as an organization for the carrying on and developing American trade with the world at large. In such strength and efficiency there are few organizations that can compare with that of Barber & Company.
The members of the executive staff of Barber Steamship Lines, Inc., have been in the steam- shipping business for the past thirty-five years, and they are thoroughly experienced in every branch of the business.
In the early history of Barber & Company the business which is conducted in foreign lands was largely of a trading character, and from that branch of the business there has grown up an activity in imports and exports with foreign countries which has made the firm of Barber & Company, Inc., a decidedly important factor in foreign trade, having connections with sources of supply for various commodities which are extensively used in the United States and which the company procures from original sources, so that they are exceptionally well supplied with the means of procuring these goods and disposing of them in American markets. At the same time, they have created in the various countries visited by their subsidiary steamship lines an active demand for goods of American origin.
After the United States entered the world war and the United States Shipping Board took over many of the more prominent steamship lines of this country, the ships of the Barber Steamship Lines, Inc., were among the first to be requisitioned, and were largely run on Government business during the period of the war, constituting a most valuable part of the tonnage required for war-winning purposes. With the return of normal conditions the Barber Steamship Lines, Inc., with all connections established in practically every important port of the world, is in much better condition than many other of the steamship companies not only to resume their old-established activities in full force, but also to take an active part in the campaign to largely increase the overseas trade of the United States.
It had done much in this direction for years be-fore the beginning of the war, its reliable service and honorable business dealings with the mercan-tile communities in foreign ports having made the name of Barber represent in many places the highest standard of American commercial ability and integrity, and as the American business in those countries expands the Barber Company will doubtless retain its representative character as an American shipping, export and import house.
The wise policies and high principles which have always characterized Barber & Company through the third of a century during which it has been engaged in active international business have been in large measure those of Mr. James Barber, who still remains at the head of the business in its various organizations and subsidiaries as chairman of the Board of Directors, giving to the enterprise the benefit of his long experience and wise counsels. The active executive management now largely devolves upon the son, Mr. Edward J. Barber, who is the president of the Barber Steamship Lines, Inc., and who has been active in the business since 1906. The associated members of the executive staff are men who by their long service and thorough familiarity with the business have largely contributed to its success.
The Barber Steamship Lines, through the com-pleteness and old-established reputation of their transportation and other services, have been able to be of great assistance to American manufac-turers in seeking, securing and maintaining a place in foreign markets by establishing from time to time new connections in many world ports and keeping in touch with those connections so as to make them available to the uses of the Barber lines and aid of American shippers. In this way they have been an important agency in the building of the business of their customers and thereby advancing their own business interests, with the result of mutual benefit. There is probably no shipping firm in this country whose foreign connections are more widespread or more strongly entrenched.