The ‘This Week in Business History’ Series on Supply Chain Now shares some of the most relevant business and global supply chain events from years past. It will shine a light on some of the most significant leaders, companies, innovations, and even lessons learned from our collective business history.


In this episode of ‘This Week in Business History,’ Supply Chain Now Host Scott Luton relates true stories marking notable anniversary dates this week, including:

  • Featured Event: June 29, 1956: Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 was signed by U.S. president Dwight D Eisenhower. The bill allocated $26 Billion in funding and succeeded where prior legislation had failed because it assigned a responsible party: the federal government covered 90% of the cost. Less than 2 months later, the work got underway, breaking ground in Missouri.
  • July 1, 1874: The first commercially successful typewriter was made available for sale. It introduced the ‘QWERTY’ keyboard.
  • June 30, 1953: The first Chevy Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan. General Motors hand-made 300 Corvettes that year, a number that would increase to nearly 4,000 the next year.

Amanda Luton (00:07):

It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.

Scott Luton (00:33):

Hey, good morning, Scott Luton here with you on supply chain. Now, welcome to today’s show on today’s show. We’re continuing a new series this week in business history. So in this program, we’re taking a look back at the upcoming week and then sharing some of the most relevant events from years past, of course, mostly business focus with little dab of global supply chain. And occasionally we might just throw in a good story outside of our primary realm. So invite you to join me on this. Look back in history to identify some of the most significant leaders, companies innovations, and perhaps lessons learned in our collective business journey. Now join me if you will, for this week in business history for the week of June 29th. So let’s start with our featured story on June 29th, 1956, the federal aid highway act of 1956 is signed by us president Dwight D Eisenhower, a move that would create of course the U S interstate highway system.

Scott Luton (01:41):

According to the American trucking association trucks move roughly 71.4% of us freight by weight. In 2019, the trucking industry in the U S was about $700 billion strong and almost employed 6% of all full time jobs in the country. But where would we would we all be including the trucking industry, especially without our interstate highway system. That’s a great question. Shipping stuff would be a lot more expensive for starters and it’d be much, uh, it’d be a much bigger hassle to get to about anywhere and come to think of it. Neil page and Del Griffith would have had a lot fewer options in their quest to get home to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving via planes, trains, and automobiles, but rather than explore hypothetical scenarios. Hey, let’s look back at a few factors that gave rise to Ike’s big dream of an American Autobon at the end of the 19th century roads or a mess.

Scott Luton (02:49):

No nice smooth, concrete or asphalt that we all come to expect these days. Nope. A lot of dirt roads packed dirt roads, or when it rained muddy, sometimes impossible impassable, impossibly impassable roads, but keep in mind there weren’t many cars as we moved into the start of the 20th century. So the demand wasn’t checked right, as we all know, that was just about to change. Thanks to Henry Ford and a variety of other entrepreneurs. It’s been estimated that there are about 250 million cars and trucks in the U S these days with the U S population at about 328 million people. That is roughly one vehicle per 1.3 people. But back in the earliest years of the 20th century, there was one motorized vehicle per every 18,000 Americans. By 1910, though, hundreds of us manufacturers had entered the automotive industry by the 1920s Ford, general motors and Chrysler were deemed the big three manufacturing, a dizzying array of vehicles and Americans were buying them left and right, the great depression certainly slowed things down because most of the car manufacturers here in the States to shutter world war II would also massively intervene, but come the late 1940s.

Scott Luton (04:19):

And certainly the 1950s happy car buying dates would return. Interestingly enough, president Dwight, the Eisenhower would be sworn into office in January, 1953.

Scott Luton (04:35):

And as I set up shop in the white house, he brought with him a grand vision to transform American roads to key events that president Eisenhower would experience firsthand were critical to how he viewed this infrastructure need in the U S first up in 1919, then major Eisenhower, a U S army officer was part of a trans continental army convoy that traveled from Washington DC to San Francisco, mostly using the Lincoln highway. It’s been said that due to the road conditions, the large convoy averaged five miles per hour, which explains why they left DC in July 19, 19 and arrived in San Francisco. Two months later, two months later as was a major part of the plan, this illustrated to the American people, the need for better roads. Secondly, critical Ike’s determination to make a major investment in us highway infrastructure, his time in Germany during world war II, where he saw the autobody networks efficiency firsthand with those experiences in mind and determined to make an early impact president pushed for action.

Scott Luton (05:59):

Now keep in mind the president, wasn’t the first dream of a national highway system, and there had been past presidents set for NASA for a national system of highways. The federal aid highway act of 1944, for example, laid out a plan for a 40,000 mile national system of interstate highways, but the catch and the reason why nothing happened, it didn’t include any specific provisions as to who would pay for those miles and miles of nice roads with the federal aid highway act of 1956, which was passed by Congress and signed by the president. The bill allocated 26 billion in funding with the federal government covering 90% of that on a side note, the legislation passed was also referred to as the national interstate and defense highways act that’s right. President Eisenhower believed that the U S military would need a better way to move groups and equipment in the event, the country was invaded, thankfully that lead that need rather has never been tested.

Scott Luton (07:15):

Okay. So now that we had a highway bill and money in 1956, guess who was the first state to break ground? The show me state that’s right, Missouri would break ground on August 13th, 1956 on what would become our 70 it’s neighbor, Kansas would follow suit and begin it’s part of our 70, the following month. But as president Kennedy came into office in 1960, the burgeoning national system of interstate and defense highways was facing more and more opposition cost overruns were at the top of the list of complaints from across the nation and an urban American cities. The clamor was more about how the interstate construction was disrupting established communities.

Scott Luton (08:05):

In many cases, families and businesses were being relocated to make room for roads, the protests and Metro areas such as Memphis and Indianapolis and Washington, DC, San Francisco, all led to cancellations of certain components of the national project, or in some cases, the interstate was simply rerouted, a lot more rent. A lot more legislation will be signed in the oval office throughout the internet. Uh, the interstate systems, formative years in the sixties, the seventies and eighties, much of which would address many of these challenges in 1992, a milestone is reached as the interstate highway system is proclaimed to be complete. As a key stretch was completed at 70, that runs through Glenwood Canyon in Colorado, but work on a variety of fronts, wood, wood, and still do continue ever curious as to how specific interstates get their number identifications and the rules that make up the numbering system. For starters, large primary roads have a one or two digit number, the shorter routes, which can often circle major cities or service spurs have a three digit designation. A two 85 here in Atlanta is a great example of that. It circles the Metro Atlanta area, two 85 also connects with [inaudible] 75 and 85.

Scott Luton (09:39):

It can be pretty confusing for many drivers visiting Atlanta or anyone else for that matter. Back in 1982, Atlanta Braves pitcher, Pasch, Pascal Perez left his house in Metro Atlanta to drive to Atlanta Fulton County stadium home of the braids at the time, unfortunately being a new driver Perez, we get lost and circle the city on two 85, a few times run out of gas and miss starting the game that night for the Braves, of course, all in good fun. His teammates would make up a warmup jacket with two 85 on the back of it instead of his typical Jersey number. All right, so getting back to the interstate numbering system, major arteries that span long distances are assigned numbers, divisible buff up such as [inaudible], which essentially runs parallel to the U S West coast beginning at the Mexican border in San Ysidro, California. It runs all the way North through Blaine, Washington and into Canada.

Scott Luton (10:45):

East West hallways are often even numbers such as [inaudible] growing up in Aiken County. South Carolina [inaudible] was a very familiar interstate from my family. It made the drive from Aiken, which is just across the Savannah river from Augusta GA to Columbia. The state Capitol South Carolina made it very easy. A 20 runs from Florence, South Carolina, all the way West to Scroggins draw, Texas North South highways are odd numbers, such as [inaudible], which starts in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and runs North all the way to Buffalo Wyoming, right there at the foot of the big horn mountains in 2006, that was the Dwight D Eisenhower system of interstate and defense highways celebrated its official 50th anniversary make, make no mistake. The massive public works project has made a tremendous impact on our country and our continent. From a business standpoint, it’s been a huge resource. Consider this as stated by Justin Fox from fortune magazine, thanks to the new road network and containers that could easily be moved from ship to train to truck.

Scott Luton (12:01):

Overseas manufacturers and, and domestic upstarts were able to get their products to market in the U S more quickly than ever before. New distribution networks arose that were vastly more efficient and flexible than the old end quote. But as with any change, you win some and you lose some as interstate routed and rerouted American cities and towns. In many cases, they diverted traffic led to the demise of many communities, such as peach street, peach Springs, Arizona, before [inaudible] was completed just South of the town, peach Springs enjoy 32 active businesses. As of 2018, only two active businesses could be found in peach Springs while the iconic us route 66 does come through the town. Most traffic and consumers cleaned the [inaudible], which was built just about 20 miles South of the city. So what lies ahead for the interstate system? Who’s to note, I would say probably more construction, certainly more autonomous vehicles.

Scott Luton (13:13):

In fact, interstates will really be able to help us out there as we continue to develop to develop that technology. And once we get past this unique year, that is 2020, absolutely. Without a doubt, a lot more explorers driving across the beautiful stretches of this great country, looking for cities and experiences big and small. So let’s take a look in a more succinct way on some of the other notable historical items on this week in business history on July 1st, 1874, the first commercially successful typewriter would hit the market known as the Shoals and Glidden typewriter 4,000 units would sell by 1877, principally designed by Christopher Latham Sholes who appropriately would also invent what is known as a curity keyboard, Q Q w E R T Y. You’ve got one in front of you probably it’s used everywhere in the world. Now Shoals and his partners tried a few times and manufacture and market the product successfully, the one they had invented, but that wouldn’t happen for them.

Scott Luton (14:26):

Unfortunately, in the rights to the top, brighter would be sold in 1873 to a firearms manufacturer that was attempting to diversify E Remington and sons refund the device and had some luck with sales, but would sail the line of business to the standard typewriter manufacturing company incorporated in 1886, the typewriter would go on of course, to be found in businesses everywhere. The device would not only provide speed and productivity, but the information that it quickly produced was easily legible. Unlike in some cases, the furious shorthand that many a clerk and secretary would use prior to the typewriter, of course, by the 1970s. And certainly in 1980s, the typewriter was being phased out by word processors and personal computers. Interestingly enough, in certain parts of the world where electricity is not particularly reliable here, this in 2020 typewriters are still used quite a bit. And there seems to be a newfound interest amongst a variety of professionals, including writers who bemoan all of the distractions that a PC brings.

Scott Luton (15:40):

Hey, I can relate on June 30th, 1953, the first Chevrolet Corvette would roll off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan at the end of world war II, Harley Earl, who happened to be born in Hollywood, California had noticed that service members returning from the war in Europe were actually bringing vehicles home with them, mgs Alfa Romero, Romeos, and the like he would eventually kick off project Opal, which would deliver the automotive classic known and known worldwide. As a Corvette general motors would make 300 Corvette in 1953, they were largely hand-built and each of the vehicles had white exteriors, red interiors and a black canvas top in 1954, almost 4,000 Corvettes were built, but almost a third of the vehicles didn’t sale. But in the year initially built in Flint, Michigan and st. Louis, Missouri bowling green Kentucky has been the exclusive home of Corvette, many factoring for more than 30 years. And the Corvettes where they did catch up

Speaker 3 (16:58):

Sales caught up. They became Minsley

Scott Luton (17:00):

Popular amongst Americans and worldwide. And since the plants right there in bowling green Kentucky started up in 1981. It’s produced more than 1 million Corvettes on July 2nd, 1962. The first Walmart opens for business in Rogers, Arkansas 44 year old Sam Walton, a former JC JC penny employee had run a five and dime store for years, which was actually a smashing success. One wanting to do even more to serve as customers Walton would find success with the first Walmart and Rogers, a city in Benton County, Arkansas five years later, Walton would have 24 stores across the state. And of course the rest is history interesting to our team. As of late here at supply chain now is Walmart’s continued efforts at improving its customers e-commerce experience. There’ll be interesting to see how the Walmart plus program and the new Alliance between Walmart and Shopify stack up against Amazon in the months ahead and finally on June 29th, 2007, Apple incorporated releases its first mobile phone.

Scott Luton (18:26):

Of course the iPhone, as much as the telephone, the automotive, the PC and other legendary inventions have done the iPhone certainly changed the world when it was released in 2007, Apple is only other handheld device at the time in 2007 was the iPod. Hey, do you remember those? I barely do the dominant smartphone device manufacturers in 2006. The year before the iPhone release were Nokia research in motion, which is of course, accompany behind Blackberry and Motorola and Palm. Do you remember that? Do you remember the Palm pilot, all the major product, all of the major products look largely the same. You know, you’ve got your screen on top and physical buttons on the bottom, the iPhone moved it all to a touchscreen, setting the standard from the industry for years to come. And the iPhone had plenty of skeptics. Then Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer told USA today in April, 2007, quote, there’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share in quote, Jim bacilli, co CEO of research in motion.

Scott Luton (19:42):

Again, the folks behind Blackberry said at the time in 2007, he told the wall street journal quote it’s okay, we’ll be fine. In quote, of course the app phone, which would sell 6 million in its first year would turn the smartphone industry on its head. And it would change Apple forever as well becoming essentially its flagship product around the world. Hey, that wraps up our look at the week ahead from a business history standpoint, those were some of the stories that stood out to us, but Hey, what do you think? What stands out to you? Tell us, shoot us a note to Amanda at supply chain. Now or Hey, join our supply chain. Now inside of this group on LinkedIn, share your feedback and perspective there. Hey, we’re here to listen to you. I hope you’ve enjoyed this third edition of this week in business history, focusing on the week of June 29th. Hey, on that note, be sure to check out a wide variety of industry thought leadership, live streams, webinars, podcasts, you name it. Supply chain. Now Find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. Hey, on behalf of the entire team here at supply chain. Now this is Scott Luton wishing all of our listeners, nothing but the best. Hey, do good give forward and be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time. Everybody on supply chain now.

Would you rather watch the show in action?  Watch as Scott on Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.

Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about Supply Chain Now here:


Upcoming Events & Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
Subscribe to Supply Chain Now:
Connect with Scott on LinkedIn:
SCN Ranked #1 Supply Chain Podcat via FeedSpot:
SCNR to Broadcast Live at AME Atlanta 2020 Lean Summit:
SCNR on YouTube:
2020 AIAG Supply Chain Summit:
Register for the Virtual Supply Chain Summit with Alcott Global:
Stand Up & Sound Off: A Conversation About Race in Industry Webinar:…348121204752

Check Out News From Our Sponsors:
U.S. Bank:
Vector Global Logistics: