1942 - 1964
Full Speed Ahead In The Post-War Boom
Predicting the future is difficult in any circumstance, and this was especially true when World War II ended in September 1945. Memories of the 1930s were still vivid in the minds of many Americans. As a result there was widespread concern that the Depression would resume now that government wartime spending was about to wind down.
Nationally syndicated columnist Ray Tucker wrote, “Fears of another 1929 nosedive are predicated on the realization that extensive reconversion of war plants will require a great deal of time, and that the interim result will be widespread unemployment.” The chief economist of a major Cleveland bank warned, “After every great war there is a period of depression.”
Graybar ignored these concerns and bet on economic growth, launching an ambitious expansion program. Graybar was right: the U.S. economy surged in the decade after the war, fueled by pent-up demand for cars, washing machines, electric stoves and other consumer products. Electrical contractors, a core Graybar market, expanded at a dizzying pace as millions of GIs returned to civilian life, got married and had children, creating demand for housing. The annual value of building contracts awarded in the United States increased sevenfold between 1945 and 1955 and then doubled between 1955 and 1965. Virtually all the new structures needed wire, cable, conduit, switches, fixtures and other electrical supplies. By investing heavily to open more branches and modernize existing branches, Graybar was able to grow with its customers and serve their needs.