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Manpower co-founder Winter dies at 97

Manpower co-founder Winter dies at 97

The story of Manpower Inc. began when a secretary fell ill. Elmer Winter and Aaron Scheinfeld, his brother-in-law and law partner, frantically searched for a typist to finish a legal brief for the state Supreme Court. They made the deadline only after a former secretary worked until dawn.

Thinking there had to be a better way, the partners came up with one: They took a chance and began something they called a temporary help agency, launching it with an investment of $7,000.

Winter, who set Manpower on the course that would take it to worldwide leadership in its field, died last week after a brief illness. He was 97.

Work came naturally to Winter his first job was at age 10, delivering fruit and vegetables to brewery workers by horse cart. The son of a clothing merchant, Winter graduated from Riverside High School in 1929 and headed to Madison, where he earned first an economics degree and then a law degree at the University of Wisconsin.

He ended up practicing law in Milwaukee, which is how he came to need temporary help.

"We got the idea that maybe companies had a problem, as we had from time to time, in getting work out," Winter said in a 1996 interview. "For example, when we needed a brief for a certain time we always seemed shorthanded. As a sideline to our law practice, we felt maybe this was a business we could develop."

The partners ran their first advertisement for temporary workers in the Milwaukee Sentinel.

"I remember it said, 'Women, work when you want as long as you want. We have "Winter said. "The next day, a need for typists, stenographers, bookkeepers,' there was a whole line of people on 3rd St."

The harder sell was getting businesses to buy into the concept.
"Some businesses felt they (temps) couldn't do the job because they didn't know the company," Winter said. "We had the people, but now we had to convince businesses that temporaries could come in and do the job."

By the second year, however, Winter and Scheinfeld were on their way. They opened a Chicago office and other Midwest operations. Then came New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco - a total of 21 major cities by 1954.
Two years later, Manpower opened its first international offices, in Montreal, Toronto and London. By 1968, the company had 600 offices in 35 countries on six continents.
"I was much more of a practical, day-to-day guy," Winter said. "I just sort of kept going. He (Scheinfeld) was more of a dreamer than I was. He always thought of an international company."

Manpower went public in 1959 and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1962.

Winter never imagined the firm would become so big - or that temping would become so commonplace.

"It's helped make companies more competitive," he said in 1996. "But from the standpoint of the individual, of course, I suppose there's a problem. Some people have been hurt by it."

Scheinfeld died in 1970. Winter retired as president of Manpower in 1976, selling the firm to the Parker Pen Co. Briefly independent in the mid-'80s, Manpower got purchased by Blue Arrow, then re-emerged as an independent, publicly traded company.

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