Ernst immigrated from Celle Germany around 1849. St. Louis was an attractive place to settle at the time. It was a large city with a lot of opportunities! Ernst was a master craftsman and more importantly an ivory turner of high skill. Seeing the demand he quickly set up shop.
His shingle read:
Ernst Schmidt Ivory Turner and Dealer in Ivory Billiard Balls, Ten Pin Balls and Smoking Pipes
By all accounts his business was successful, he was a craftsman and thought like one. While he could speak English, most of his instructions were written on a chalkboard in German. He had very old world idea’s and proved it when he brought his son Oscar into the business at age five to learn the trade (a tradition that still continues today). It was very much a working man’s type of existence, much like a plumber, electrician or other trade. Very little thought was given to the future, and he was content to get a project, complete it and move on to the next part to make. That was all about to change!
Read on, most companies are doomed when the founder turns over the keys to the second generation—but Oscar would prove to be an exception to the rule!