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John D Rockefeller was born on July 8,
1893 in Richford New York near Ithaca.
Rockefeller studied at Owego Academy in
Owego New York which was his high
He then studied for ten weeks at Folsom’s
commercial College in Cleveland Ohio
where he took business oriented courses
that helped him excel later in life as a
His first real job was at Hewitt & Tuttle,
which was a produce company, as an
assistant bookkeeper. Before long he had
been able to work his way up the ranks to
manage all of the shipping the company
did because he was so skilled at business.
Early Business Career
Shortly after he became 20 he quit his job
with Hewitt & Tuttle and started his own
grocery supply business with his friend
Their business was very successful in a
competitive market mainly because of
Rockefeller’s natural business skills.
The peak of business was during the civil
war when food was greatly needed to feed
Rockefeller soon realized that his future in
the grocery business was very limited
because of the location of Cleveland on
Lake Erie and the fact that most food was
now being transported by railroad.
The Start of Oil
After realizing groceries were not going to
take him far he began investigating other
more profitable paths. That’s when he saw
the potential of oil and began to make his
Rockefeller thought that the key to
beating your competition was efficiency
and attention to detail, so he basically
built the refinery himself and to insure its
One key to his early success was the fact
that he exported most of his oil because of
the demand in other parts of the world.
Although he still had a large domestic
business as well.
Rockefeller and Flagler
Rockefeller’s oil business really took off
when he partnered with Henry Flagler.
The two men had very similar ambitions
and both saw the potential of oil.
They used a few basic principles to take
over the industry.
1. They built high quality and larger refineries using the best materials
2. They made their own barrels and cut the cost from $3 to $1.50.
3. They made their own refining chemicals and found ways to recycle
the chemicals for re-use.
4. They owned their own transportation (wagons, boats).
5. They owned their own storage facilities (warehouses).
6. They were the first to use tank cars on the railroad which they also
7. They owned huge holding tanks that stored crude and refined oil
and made it easy to put oil in tank cars.
8. They used and reused every part of oil that couldn’t be sold to help
run their refineries.
This was really the start of the process of
vertical integration and they left nothing
to chance making them very successful.
The Standard Oil company was a firm or trust of
multiple businessmen but Rockefeller owned about a
His goal with Standard Oil was to control and calm a
very chaotic oil business. He thought that the prices of
oil and the other small inefficient refineries did not
Rockefeller proceeded to buy up all the refineries
around Cleveland and then he dismantled the bad
ones and upgraded the better ones to his standards.
Then Standard had control of over 90% of oil by 1880.
This happened largely because of the way Rockefeller
was able to control the railroads and negotiate very
favorable prices for Standard because he was such a
large part of all the shipping the railroads did.
Standard imposed it’s will on businesses which made
them successful but also disliked by the public which
hurt them in the long run.
Post Oil Rockefeller
He retired from the oil business in 1897 at
the age of 58.
The only challenge he had was finding out
what to do with all of his money now.
Rockefeller then found something that
worked to relieve his surplus of money in
He basically created the University of
He started the Rockefeller institute for
He donated 50,000,000 to schools to
raise teacher’s salaries after WWI.
He also donated to many other charities
and spent most of his fortune for charity
by the time that he died.
Why Rockefeller is Important
Rockefeller is important because of the
way in which he revolutionized business.
He pioneered the use of vertical
integration which controls all assets
involved in the process of a company.
He basically made the oil industry all that
it is today.
He showed that hard work, efficiency and
attention to detail were the best way to
run a business and be successful at it.
Rockefeller also donated most of his
money to charity throughout the course of
his life especially after he was done with
Foner, Eric, and John A. Garraty. "Rockefeller, John D." The Reader's Companion to American
History Dec. 1 1991: n.p. SIRS Researcher. Web. 09 February 2010.
"Rockefeller, John D. (1839-1937)." DISCovering Biography. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003.
Discovering Collection. Web. 9 Feb. 2010.
Nevins, Allan. "Standard Oil Company." Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler.
3rd ed. Vol .7. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003. 520-521. Gale Virtual
Reference Library. Web. 9 Feb. 2010.
"People & Events: John D. Rockefeller Senior, 1839-1937." American Experience. PBS, 1999.
Web. 09 Feb. 2010