Charles Eugene Bedaux, 1887 to 1943

Charles Bedaux is best known for his pioneering work on work measurement, and mainly by people engaged in this area. His is an incredible story of a man whose brilliance and meteoric rise shot him from being a bottle washer to millionaire. In his time he was recognized by world leaders and statesmen, rubbing shoulders with British royalty, but whose achievements have now deliberately and conveniently been forgotten by the world; forgotten because of his untimely end as a possible traitor to his country, the USA, during World War II allegedly for "trading with the enemy".

Charles E. Bedaux was born in Charenton, Paris in 1887 and emigrated to America in 1906 getting a job as a sand hog in Manhattan, digging foundations for skyscrapers. He "graduated" to dish washer and later, petty salesman selling wares like toothpaste, life insurance and later, cattle. It was in Grand Rapids in 1917 while in furniture manufacture that he saw the potential in exploiting the inefficient methods employed in the working situation.

In one year he had established the Charles E. Bedaux Company and by 1925 had become a millionaire with 19 offices over the world with 600 clients, encompassing most of the big household names: Campbell's Soups, Kodak, General Electric, Lyons and many, many others. He was loved by businessmen and hated by the workforce. This was due to his success in applying his methods improvements, work measurement and incentive schemes. Particularly he developed time study (or "speed-up systems" as the unions liked to call it), from the earlier studies of pioneers such as Frederick W Taylor. While Taylor used "selected times" Bedaux introduced the concept of the standard minute value based on the "speed and effort" rating system

On the social side, Charles Bedaux was a confident of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who used his castle, the Chateau Cande in France as a haven during the Abdication period of the late 1930's. Before the USA entered the War (December 1941) Bedaux's chateau was also used as the American Embassy in France.

When Hitler came to power Bedaux's business had been closed down and he used the Windsor connection with the Nazi Party to flirt with them to help his business. It is an involved, intriguing story which proved to be his downfall. Bedaux was eventually arrested in North Africa by the US authorities during the battle there. In December 1943 he was flown to Miami USA for investigation, but before he could be tried for "trading with the enemy" this man of genius had taken a drug overdose and died in his cell.

Charles Eugene Bedaux is mentioned in many books in the field management and work study but little is published about his extraordinary background and life. There is no doubting his genius.

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