Andrew Carnegie, a business tycoon in the 19th and early 20th century was born in Scotland. He belonged to a weaver’s family. The cottage in which his family lived was also shared with another weaver’s family. The main room was not only a bedroom but also a kitchen and dining room. Thus, the life of Andrew Carnegie rightfully qualifies as one of the greatest stories of rags to riches entrepreneurs.
When Carnegie was 13, his family moved to Pennsylvania in search of a better life. This was the decision that was going to change the dynamics of the steel industry at that time. At one time, the amount of steel produced by his company was more than the total amount of steel produced in the whole of Britain. So, how did his life change from being a shy little boy in Scotland to becoming one of the biggest entrepreneur and philanthropist the world has ever seen?.
Well, it all started with his first job when he was 13. His first job was that of a bobbin boy. A bobbin boy used to work in the looms and used to help women there with their daily chores. Typically bringing bobbin to them when asked and also fixing minor issues with machines. He used to work for 12 hours a day and got 1 day in a week as holiday. For about two years he worked there and finally in 1850, when he was 15, he started working in the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegraph Company as a messenger boy. His salary there was a modest $2.50 a week.
The officers at the company were so impressed by his hard work that within a year they promoted him to the position of operator. Meanwhile, he started building connections with some of the most prominent people in the town and recognized most of them with their faces. His sheer hard work and perseverance was about to bring him many opportunities. In 1853, Pennsylvania Railroad Company employed him as a telegraph operator and fixed his salary at $4 a week.
His cost cutting and managerial skills, which is very important for any entrepreneur was sharpened in this company. His first investment of $500 was in the year 1853 in Adams Express, which was one of the contractors of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Reinvesting his profits from his first investments in various iron and steel ventures and other related ventures, he started accumulating wealth. This is how the foundation of his empire was built. Slowly, but with a firm base.
Still working in the company, soon Carnegie was appointed as Superintendent of the Military Railway of the federal government. During the civil war, he was the one who opened the rail line which was destroyed buy the rebels. After the war he left the company and started his iron-works trade. Carnegie developed several iron works, finally forming The Keystone Bridge Works and the Union Ironworks, in Pittsburgh.
In the 1880s, Carnegie Steel was the largest manufacturer of pig iron, steel rails, and coke in the world, with a capacity to produce a whopping 2,000 tons of pig iron per day. He was the main reason why the American steel industry started producing more Iron than the British steel industry.By 1901, his steel empire was reckoned as the most successful ventures of all time. Finally he sold Carnegie Steel to J.P Morgan. In 2015, the value of that deal is $310 billion !.
This entrepreneur was not to take his wealth away with him. He spent most of his money in philanthropic works like building libraries, giving charity, founding educational institutions and scientific research.