Today we celebrate the birth of Clement Studebaker (12 Mar 1831 – 27 Nov 1901), the businessman and entrepreneur who, with his brothers Henry and John, founded the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company, a family firm that grew to become a world leader producer of horse-drawn vehicles, before moving into motorised automobile manufacturing.
The Studebaker company’s motto was “Always give more than you promise”, and this attitude of over-delivery proved the key to their success. Clement, John and Henry, three of 10 Studebaker siblings (5 boys and 5 girls) started out making parts for horse-wagons, and later expanded to making complete wagons. They had their big break during the California Gold Rush, when their fancy yet rugged horse-buggy proved very popular and their sales skyrocketed. When they also received a large order to build carriages for the army, the sky was the limit.
Over time, involvement of the different Studebker brothers changed, with Henry leaving to farm, and younger brothers Peter and Jacob joining. Clement remained President, overseeing the expansion of the company to “the largest vehicle house in the world”, delivering carriages for everyone up to US President Harrison.
The Studebaker company only moved into the automobile market after Clement Studebaker’s death. Starting with electric vehicles in 1907, the company continued to produce vehicles into the 1960s.