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The Cyclopædia of American Biography/Poehlmann, August Franklin

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POEHLMANN, August Franklin, wholesale florist, b. in Milwaukee, Wis., 21 Oct., 1869, son of John George and Caroline (Haffermeister) Poehlmann. His father, John G. Poehlmann, a native of Ahornberg, in Bavaria, Germany, was at first a baker by trade, but after coming to this country as a young man, he settled in Milwaukee and there went into the grocery business. As a boy August attended the public schools of Milwaukee, then, having concluded his studies, he dedicated himself to a business career. It was not till he was twenty-one, however, that he entered the field in which he was to attain his large measure of success, but even before that time he had gained a great deal of practical experience. When August was ten years of age, his older brother, Adolph, then nineteen, had gone to Niles Center, Ill., and there entered the employ of a large florist. Later he had gone into business for himself and had met with success. In 1890, when August Poehlmann was twenty-one, he induced his brother John to engage in the florist business. This was the idea which crystallized and later formed the Poehlmann Bros. Company. Adolph's capital was largely represented by his plant. August Poehlmann and his brother John had been saving their earnings and they were able, between them, to put another $3,000 into the business. Verbally they agreed that they should share equally with each other the profits of the business. From the beginning the business prospered, the commercial experience of John and August supple menting the technical training of Adolph. Added to this they had confidence, youth, energy, and unlimited determination. For ten years they continued as partners, then organized into a corporation with a capital of $90,000 in 1901, assuming the title of the Poehlmann Bros. Company. August was elected secretary and treasurer. His brother, John, who was made president, attended to the Chicago end of the business, developing the selling end, and Adolph had charge of the management of the plant. From now on the success of the firm was truly remarkable. The establishment is now the largest of its kind in the world. From three to four hundred men are employed in the greenhouses, of which there are about eight miles, averaging twenty-seven feet in width. The cut flower department alone requires 2,000,000 square feet of glass to cover it. Eight large greenhouses, each 250 feet in length, are required to house the orchids, many of which have been gathered from the malarial swamps and jungles of South America by collectors sent especially for the firm. Meanwhile the trade has been extended all over the United States, into Canada, and even into foreign countries. August was unusually quick of perception; quick to estimate the value of an opportunity that presented itself and daring enough to take a risk. Of the three brothers he was the most aggressive, the first to insist on the development of any new idea that promised to be of advantage to the business. But though he acted quickly, sometimes with apparent rashness, his judgment was nevertheless cool, for his mistakes were few. The foreign department of the firm stands out pre-eminently as one of the best results of his ability as an executive. That the citizens of Morton, Ill., where the vast plant of the firm is located, appreciate the sound business judgment of August Poehlmann is obvious from the fact that in 1908 they elected him mayor of the town, and he has been mayor ever since. On 18 April, 1905, Mr. Poehlmann married Lulie Virginia Miller, daughter of John C. Miller, a successful manufacturer of paper boxes in Chicago. They have had three children: Earl Franklin, Roland Morton, and Lulie Virginia.