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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

F. Stuart Foote Brings Bedaux to Grand Rapids

by Richard Vettese

Bedaux’s connection to Grand Rapids, Michigan began in 1915 when F. Stuart Foote, secretary-treasurer and general manager of the Imperial Furniture Company, brought him here. Working for Grand Rapids’ famed furniture industry, Bedaux installed his plan, known as the “Bedaux System.” Considered one of the leading contributors in the field of scientific management, Bedaux was influenced by the work of Fredrick Winslow Taylor and Frank Gilbreth Sr. He introduced concepts of work rating assessments, job timing, and motion studies in employee productivity. This was a system of wage payment by which work is subdivided into units equivalent to the number of minutes that a task should take and the worker payment is the basis of the number of points of work accomplished in a given length of time. Labor leadership simply blasted Bedaux’s system as a speed up of work performance, a false measurement of human energy against machine efficiency, in short, a “sweat shop system.”

While in Grand Rapids, Bedaux also did efficiency engineering for Leonard Refrigerator, Valley City Milling Company, and other local industries. By 1916, Bedaux had established a management-consulting firm in Cleveland, and eventually built a string of consultancy firms across the United States, Europe and throughout Africa, Australia, and the Orient. 

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